Patrick Craig, founder of The Wild Animal Sanctuary

by | Aug 19, 2020

Patrick Craig—founder of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, launched in 1980, located in Keenesburg, Colorado, and devoted to housing lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other carnivores—recounts what spurred him, at age 19, to start the Sanctuary, and the initial steps he took. Craig figures the unusual, precocious compassion and empathy propelling his desire to help what he learned were the large number of surplus (and soon to be euthanized) zoo animals were shaped, in part, by growing up on the family farm and feeling a profound connection to animals of all kinds. As part of the earliest days of the Sanctuary, Craig recalls picking up a mountain lion at a zoo that was otherwise planning to euthanize her, traveling in an old pick-up truck carrying a primitive cage—and how, after loading in the terrified animal, he decided he could best comfort her by riding inside the cage with the mountain lion while his then-girlfriend drove them all back to the Sanctuary. Craig outlines his philosophy for providing habitat space for the residents of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, which involves tremendous room to move around  (typically, 5-25 acres per habitat) and other elements that, as closely as possible, approximate conditions in the wild. As something of a parallel narrative, he explains how his philosophy on fundraising for the Sanctuary evolved, along with related efforts in marketing and publicity. Tied to the related development of judiciously opening the Sanctuary to visitors (it was not open to the public for the first 20 years), he describes how he came up with the idea for the “Mile Into The Wild,” an innovative mile and a half long walkway that’s elevated well above the animal habitats, allowing visitors to see the animals without disturbing them or causing them any stress. (,,

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Karen Ankerstar, whose advocacy in recent years has tended to focus on giving legal teeth to the “Adopt Don’t Shop” slogan, as she’s worked to help pass ordinances in various parts of Florida  (the counties of Sarasota, DeSoto, Hillsborough, plus Saint Petersburg),  prohibiting pet stores from selling dogs that came from puppy mills and nefarious breeders. She explains the health issues often associated with dogs that originated from puppy mills, and that she’s hoping that Manatee county will be the next area to pass one of these ordinances.





COMEDY CORNER:  Nate Bargatze’s “Consider A Tiger” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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