Living Wild in Denver

The mile-high city of Denver, Colorado seems to be a weird place to view African lions and Indian tigers on the prowl, but if wild life is your thing, then Denver is just the place to visit in order to get your fix of all beasts great and small.

Denver’s Genesee Park boasts the only city-owned free roaming bison herd in the world. Alright, that is a weird boast given that you really wouldn’t expect to see free roaming bison in places like Helsinki, Finland or Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but it is refreshing to know that bison can still freely roam where they have always freely roamed. However, if you go to Denver expecting to see only bison, then you are in for quite a pleasant surprise.

Denver is also home to the fourth most popular zoo in the United States, where over 4,000 animals are kept. The latest project here is an Asian Tropics exhibit which is the largest development in the Zoo’s 100-year history. When completed it will occupy 10 acres and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012. This will be the largest bull elephant habitat in the world. Visitors will see majestic Asian elephants, Indian one-horned rhinos, acrobatic gibbons, fishing cats, and black leopards, all from the centre of an Asian village. Visitors will walk under an elephant crossing bridge to arrive at the centre village. Ingenious water ponds are used to separate visitors from the animals. One of the most exciting components of Asian Tropics is the planned use of a biomass gasification system, which can turn human trash and animal waste into energy to power the exhibit. The gasification system will convert more than 90 percent of the zoo’s waste into usable energy.

Also to be seen near Denver is the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

This is the largest carnivore sanctuary in the U.S. with 290 lions, tigers and bears, who roam free on the 700 acre facility. Located 30 miles northeast of Denver, the Sanctuary also has packs of wolves, bobcats, an extremely rare black leopard, and more than 70 tigers. Visit at dusk when the animals are particularly active and you can hear the wolves howling and the lions growling. Visitors walk along an elevated deck looking out on an unusual sight – the rolling high plains of Colorado that have been fenced into pastures filled with prides of lions, roving tigers, or frolicking grizzly bears. All of these animals had been abused in their previous life and have now been rescued to live out their days in a beautiful setting.

For those who wish to see indigenous North American wildlife that the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is certainly worthy of a visit.

Located just 10 miles from downtown Denver, the Arsenal was once the most polluted spot in the U.S., but it has now been cleaned up and transformed into one of the three largest urban wildlife refuges in the nation, home to 330 species including bald eagles, buffalo, deer and burrowing owls. A new $7.5 million visitor centre tells the story of how this former weapons manufacturing site went through one of the largest environmental cleanups in history. Today, the there are 10-miles of trails through the 15,000-acre site, or visitors can take guided bus tours to see hawks, eagles and what will ultimately be a herd of 250 free-roaming buffalo.

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