Wild Animal Sanctuary

Some 25,000 wild animals live in captivity outside U.S. zoos, many horribly abused.

Pat Craig squats down and stares at the tiger. The big cat locks its green-amber eyes on Craig and, shoulders hunched, creeps toward him. Craig flattens his palm against the chain-link fence and leans even closer as the 700-pound tiger approaches. Then, with his top teeth perched on his lower lip, beaver-style, Craig blows three short puffs of air. Pfft. Pfft. Pfft. The tiger brings his face inches from Craig’s and blows three puffs back. In tiger language, they have just said hello.

After this ritual, called chuffing, Craig strokes the cat’s pink nose and soft forehead, and the tiger moans as if his biggest itch has been scratched. “Hi, Ricky.” Craig’s voice has climbed an octave. “You’re a good boy.”

Ricky lives in the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, along with 73 other tigers. But the sanctuary wasn’t their first stop. Many of these cats were living in squalid conditions while earning their keep in roadside zoos, portrait studios or county fairs. Others served as breeding machines, their young often shipped away in boxes before weaning. And some were owned by private citizens who abandoned them when they outgrew the cute kitten stage.

Sally the bobcat and Pat CraigPhotographed By Jason DeweyA bobcat named Sally, one of Pat Craig's newest tenants, was found abandoned in the parking lot of a truck stop.
 The tigers aren’t alone at the sanctuary either: African lions, mountain lions, leopards, wolves, black and grizzly bears, servals, bobcats, coati-mundis (they look like a cross between a raccoon and an opossum) — oh, and an emu and a camel — roam these gentle hills. Thanks to one man, Pat Craig, who envisioned, funded and built from scratch this 160-acre compound for unwanted exotic animals, they eat balanced meals and get stellar veterinary care.

By conservative estimates, some 25,000 wild animals live in captivity outside the zoo system in the United States, many in inhumane conditions. Owners who use their exotics for commercial reasons may have proper legal permits, but the licenses give the animals only minimal protection. And although there are laws against selling exotic animals across state lines, in several states there is no prohibition against owning, say, a grizzly bear or an African lion.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy