Largest Carnivore Sanctuary In The World Breaks World Record

2,000 pound Kodiak Bear being observed by visitors on record-breaking walkway. Source: PRNewsFoto/The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg, Colorado.
2,000 pound Kodiak Bear being observed by visitors on record-breaking walkway. Source: PRNewsFoto/The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg, Colorado.

Released by Pat Craig, The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Preparations are underway for what will be a record-setting event for a Colorado-based non-profit organization.  On Monday, October 31, 2016 The Wild Animal Sanctuary will celebrate a Trifecta of major milestones when it holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony, breaks a world record and releases a world premiere video all within a single event.

The Grand Opening of the new 48,000 square foot Welcome Center and ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 12:30pm (MDT) followed by Guinness World Records® presenting the award for the world’s Longest Footbridge at 1pm and at 1:30pm. the Sanctuary will premiere its new, world-class branding (promotional) video produced by Emmy award winning Stage 2 Studios.

The idea and completion of a new Welcome Center is years in the making.  “We realized early on if our guests become uncomfortable, it impedes their learning about the world’s Captive Wildlife Crisis,” says Pat Craig, the Sanctuary’s Executive Director. When TWAS moved to Keenesburg in 1994, no drinking water was available, no bathrooms, no shade, no food. “We always focus on what’s best for the animals, and our visitors get that right away, but people needed food, bathrooms, water and a place to rest,” Craig says.

In 2005, with donated concrete products recycled from the T-REX expansion of I-25, TWAS’s first welcome center was built. In that space TWAS sold merchandise and tickets. But the number of guests—more than 200,000 last year—soon outgrew the 2,500 square foot structure, which housed the admissions kiosks, the gift shop and orientation sessions. “It became a log jam,” Craig says.

“We needed to address a number of issues,” Craig recalls. “Everything in this new space is in response to what had become an issue in the old space, or was directly requested by the public”.

Today, the new complex is flanked by a 10-acre parking lot that alleviates the need for overflow parking and secondary check-in area, which is what the Sanctuary had been utilizing previously.

Once inside, guests are greeted by life-size sculptures of African wildlife—created from scrap metal by Kenyan sculptors and shipped directly to TWAS. The sculptures are for sale—and indeed, the first shipment was immediately bought before the new center even opened and donated back to TWAS for a permanent display. Profits from the sale of sculptures are shared with the Kenyan artists.

After checking in at one of four admissions kiosks, guests watch the orientation video displayed on wall-size screens. They may shop in the new, spacious gift shop, admire the extensive, interior landscaping and water features, order fresh-cooked food in the new, cafeteria-style restaurant and enjoy treats from the ice cream store.

Besides the ice cream shop, restaurant and gift shop, a fourth building is a commissary amply equipped for caterers for TWAS fundraisers as well as private celebrations, family reunions and business dinners, meetings or retreats.

The new Welcome Center was built with a loan for rural development from the USDA. It is self-sustaining. “We make sure that anything that costs money for human benefit pays for itself,” Craig explains. The revenues generated in the gift shop, restaurant, ice cream shop and event rentals will go entirely to pay back the USDA loan. All donations and other revenues that are done in honor of or on behalf of the animals continue to go directly to the care of the animals.

“We’ve developed amazing ways to take care of and protect our animals,” Craig says. “We wanted to replicate that for our guests, and feel we have succeeded. Everyone can now come, be comfortable, and enjoy the Sanctuary all year long!”

At the time of the opening of the new Welcome Center, an additional ½-mile of elevated walkway was also opened—stretching the total length of footbridge to more than 1.5 miles.  It is a one-of-a-kind structure that allows guests to view the Sanctuary’s rescued wild animals without causing the animals stress.

With the new addition to its overall length, the walkway will be officially measured by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® on October 31, at which time the walkway will receive the title for world’s Longest Footbridge.

Finally, the Sanctuary will proudly premiere its finest-ever promotional or branding video.  Months in the making by Stage 2 Studios and filmed using the absolute latest digital technology it highlights the work and the animals of the Sanctuary like never before.  Based around a poem that will evoke previously-untouched nerves of compassion in the viewer, the work of rescuing some of the world’s most majestic creatures will be made manifest in stunning beauty and artistry.

Located near Keenesburg, Colorado, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is the largest nonprofit carnivore sanctuary in the World, with over 450 rescued Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves, Leopards and other carnivores living in large acreage natural habitats. Established in 1980, the Sanctuary operates a 720 acre refuge for abused, abandoned and confiscated carnivores and specializes in rehabilitating captive wildlife so they can be released into natural habitats where they can roam freely and live with others of their own kind.  More information is available at www.wildanimalsanctuary.org

Stage 2 Studios is an innovative production studio with operations in Denver CO, Seattle WA, Alaska, and Pittsburgh PA. Stage 2 serves clients nationwide, specializing in creating media that inspires audiences and ignites growth. In addition, we produce original games and short films featuring intriguing stories and spectacular visuals.  More information is available at www.stage2studios.com

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