11 News gets exclusive behind-the-gates peek inside southeastern Colorado wildlife refuge

War refugees, mistreated animals, and animals with no other place to go find a refuge in this retirement community in rural Colorado.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:22 AM MDT|Updated: May. 31, 2023 at 8:05 AM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Colo. (KKTV) - There’s a retirement community in rural southeastern Colorado, but you can’t stay there.

But 11 News is the first Colorado TV station to take you there, with exclusive behind-the-gates access to this wild animal refuge few people even know exists.

The residents are exotic, some of them are escaping war, and some used to live lives filled with abuse and neglect.

When the mud from recent rainstorms dried enough for us to make the drive along dirt roads south of Lamar, our 11 News crew finally made the journey to the Wild Animal Refuge, an off-limits reserve for big cats and other animals who come to the refuge as a last option.

As the war started in Ukraine, seven lions from a zoo in the war-torn country made their way a long journey to southern Colorado. They represent just a small fraction of the hundreds of animals with similar stories that found their way here to the middle of nowhere.

Lions and tigers and bears -- those are just some of the wild animals who call this remote corner of southeastern Colorado home.

“We are an hour away from Kansas, an hour away from Oklahoma borders,” Wild Animal Refuge director Taylor Logan explained.

A small team of caretakers live in this remote corner of the state full-time. It is the last place you would think lions from Ukraine, tigers from roadside zoos, and bears from South America would end up, but they are here and they are here to stay.

“I think sometimes I forget. I have those random moments where I’m like, ‘What is your life? What are you doing?’ I spend all day taking care of tigers and bears and living out in the middle of nowhere. It’s like when a little refuge too,” Logan admitted.

While thousands of people visit the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Northern Colorado each year, few have ever seen the animals here at the refuge, and that is by design. More than 200 animals already call this place home with room to expand, as long as people keep supporting this nonprofit’s mission. The workers use solar to power the electric security fences, have their own fire trucks and water tankers, they build roads, and feeding these big cats is a daily logistics ballet.

“This is what we can give them to give them back their lives a little bit,” Logan added.

If you would like to learn more about the mission and how you can support the effort, click here: