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The Wild Animal Sanctuary -TEXAS is an accredited Sanctuary for Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other exotic animals that have been rescued from illegal or abusive situations.

Formerly known as The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, the organization became part of The Wild Animal Sanctuary network as of May 22nd, 2020.


Currently, in the United States alone, there are more than 25,000 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other exotic animals that are living outside of the public zoo system.  These animals can be found in back yards, basements, garages, barns and a whole host of other terrible and inappropriate places.  There are hundreds of private facilities within the United States that breed and sell these species for profit.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates only a handful of these facilities, as many do not have to be licensed if they are not exhibiting animals.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) does not regulate these animals, as the vast majority are not considered true endangered species due to cross breeding and the lack of documentation that proves lineage.

This captive wildlife issue began 40+ years ago in the United States, and has now begun to be a global issue - especially in other countries that have developing economies.  World-wide there are more than 100,000 animals like these that are being exploited in countless ways and our network of sanctuaries works to save hundreds of these animals each year.




  • To prevent and alleviate cruelty to animals which are abandoned or were subject to deprivation or neglect, by providing care and boarding.


  • To rescue and provide life-long homes for large, exotic and endangered captive wild animals and to educate the public about the causes of and solutions to the world’s captive wildlife crisis.

America and the world have a captive wildlife crisis. As many as 25,000 captive great cats, bears, wolves and other large carnivores are living in substandard conditions throughout the U.S. In fact, after illegal drugs and weapons, the exotic animal trade is the third largest source of illicit profits in America—and the world—today.


The Wild Animal Sanctuary-TEXAS (TWAS-TEXAS) is all about saving the victims of this crisis. We crisscross the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the rest of the world rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores that have been abused, abandoned, exploited or illegally kept.


We have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to more than 45 states, many multiple times, on rescue missions, and into Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Uruguay, South Korea, Saipan, Lebanon, Argentina and many other countries over the years.  We rescue animals from dreadful circumstances and bringing them back to the wide open space of large acreage habitats where they have plenty of freedom, exceptional diets and proper veterinary care for as long as they live.


Our goal is to give them a life of dignity and respect and to make their life as it would be if they could choose. TWAS-TEXAS also works tirelessly to educate humans about the causes of, and solutions to, the Captive Wildlife Crisis.

Who We Are:


Established in 1993, The Wild Animal Sanctuary-TEXAS (formerly IEAS) is a state and federally licensed zoological facility and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our educational facility is located outside of Boyd, Texas, 30 miles northwest of Fort Worth, on 41 acres of wooded grasslands, sheltering more than 70 large carnivores! 


The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) is a 789-acre facility outside of Denver, CO and cares for more than 550 large carnivores, and is open to the public for educational purposes.  More than 150,000 people visit this facility each year. TWAS is the largest and oldest sanctuary of its kind in the World.


The Wild Animal Refuge (TWAR) is a 9,684 acre property located in southern Colorado near the town of Springfield, CO.  This facility is not open to the public and hosts rescued animals in amazingly-natural habitats ranging upwards in size of 5 to 300 acres in size.  TWAS is the most natural open space sanctuary of its kind, and is creating a new paradigm for the way captive wildlife can live in immense natural spaces.


For the past 27 years, TWAS-TEXAS has responded to more than 200 requests from private citizens and government agencies to rescue animals from across the United States and other countries. Our resident animals were abandoned, abused, kept illegally or were victims or other terrible situations. Most were the pets of private citizens, but were confiscated by law enforcement officials for being in illegal or abusive situations. Others were surplus animals from zoos and other wildlife facilities, where they faced euthanasia due to over-breeding, overcrowding or closure due to inadequate finances.


Our 70+ residents include tigers, African lions, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, leopards, wolves, African servals, bobcats, ocelots, coati mundi and lemurs.

Why Our Work Is Important


Illegal trade in exotic and endangered species is a problem of epic proportions:

  • Only the drug and gun trades are larger in terms of their scope and profit throughout the world today.

  • Just in America, an estimated 25,000 large exotic animals live outside our zoos.

  • More tigers live as pets just in the state of Texas than currently live in the wild all over the world. 

  • The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 big cats are in private hands, from cages in basements to roadside zoos-- most of them in squalid and inhumane conditions.


While the number of captive large carnivores continues to increase, states finally have begun to impose regulations to slow the trade. Currently more than 40 states have varying laws that ban or hinder keeping large exotic animals as pets. Colorado, the home of both TWAS & TWAR, banned big cats as pets almost 30 years ago, and in 2004 adopted some of the country’s toughest regulations and standards for big cat sanctuaries.  


Of the roughly 20 accredited sanctuaries in the United States, only about a dozen take in big cats, bears or other large carnivores. Consequently, TWAS's network of sanctuaries plays a critical role in providing a safe haven and maintaining long-term shelters for many large carnivores. We work closely with city, state and federal agencies to provide relief when they confiscate animals. Unfortunately, with tens of thousands of large exotics living outside our zoo system today and being bred annually, the need for our services is increasingly urgent.

Our Current Programs


Our facilities are some of the most state-of-the-art in the nation. We have built more than 100 species-specific habitats ranging greatly in size, for tiger, wolf, black bear, grizzly bear, African lion, leopard, lynx and bobcat. Other animals dwell in very large enclosures during their rehabilitation process and are carefully joined into cohesive groups that ultimately will have new habitats built for them to live in. These roomy, comfortable environments offer our rescued animals unprecedented freedom and more natural living spaces. All of our large-acreage habitats have unique underground dens that are spacious, comfortable and maintain constant temperature of about 60 degrees all year long.


We focus on three specific programs to advance our mission:

Wild Animal Rescue


Since 1993 The Wild Animal Sanctuary-TEXAS has answered the call to rescue captive exotic and endangered large carnivores living in backyards, apartments, tiny cages, garages, crawl spaces, horse trailers, barns and other terrible situations.


Our rescued animals come from private owners who have animals illegally or find they are unable offer proper care for their animals:  surplus from zoos, entertainment industry rejects or retirees, roadside attractions, exotic animal auctions, facilities that have been closed due to animal abuse, public safety concerns or financial problems. Most of the animals are confiscated by federal, state or local law enforcement officials.


TWAS has specially designed and outfitted rescue vans, trucks and trailers and custom-built travel cages, all providing temperature-controlled comfort for the animals during transport.

TWAS-TEXAS works closely with national, state and international law enforcement agencies, state zoning health and welfare agencies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These organizations depend on us to provide safe and humane wild animal rescue services. We also work with zoos and wildlife facilities that need assistance with overcrowding.


TWAS-TEXAS also provides short-term foster care during pending court actions and permanent guardianship after legal custody is obtained.

Wild Animal Care Program


It is our goal to place all our animals into large acreage habitats where they can experience life with plenty of space, diets of exceptional quality, expert veterinary care and freedom from performing, traveling or doing things Nature did not intend.


Once the rescued animals arrive at TWAS, TWAR or TWAS-TEXAS, they are given solitude to adjust to their new home. Depending on the level and type of abuse they have suffered, they are rehabilitated with loving care, so they learn to trust humans and other animals.


Animals live in a variety of places on our grounds, based on their species and time at our facilities. Those living in the main compound at TWAS-TEXAS have inside/outside enclosures, with heated areas in winter. They also have a wide variety of play structures, including pools for the tigers. 


Habitats – TWAS-TEXAS Boyd,TX has over 30 habitats, ranging in size from 1 to 5 acres and is located on forested and open grasslands with pools and seasonal lakes. They include above and underground dens that stay about 60 degrees year-round, shade shelters and play structures with all kinds of toys and enrichment.

Habitats – TWAS Keenesburg, CO has over 80 habitats, ranging in size from 5 to 25 acres and is located on rolling prairie grasslands with pools and seasonal lakes. They all include underground dens that stay about 60 degrees year-round, shade shelters and play structures with all kinds of toys and enrichment.


Habitats – TWAR Springfield, CO has over 10 habitats, ranging in size from 5 to 300 acres and is located in forested canyon country with cliffs, buttes, mesas and other stimulating topography, as well as springs, streams, pools and seasonal lakes.


All three locations feature above and underground dens that stay about 60 degrees year-round, shade shelters and play structures with all kinds of toys and natural enrichment.


Diet – The animals are fed on a random schedule, as they would eat in the wild, to address their natural biological needs.  Every week TWAS, TWAR & TWAS-TEXAS combined feed more than 38,000 pounds of top quality, USDA-inspected meats (beef, poultry, mutton, pork, etc) blended with vitamins and nutrients to great cats and wolves, about two-thirds of our animal population. The entire amount (approximately 3.7 million dollars worth) is donated.  Yet, this food doesn't get here magically, so the Sanctuary operates a fleet of trucks with professional drivers that travel to more than 63 donating stores across the Front Range of Colorado.  The cost to pick up this meat twice per week and maintain the drivers, trucks, fuel, insurance and equipment maintenance is more than $300,000 annually.


We feed another 40,000 pounds of food to our bears each week. While the fruits, vegetables, eggs, raw fish and grains for the bears are also donated (another 3.9 million dollars worth), it costs an additional $300,000 annually for the transportation of their food.


Veterinary Care – We provide exceptional veterinary care for our animals. Upon arrival, they are checked and vaccinated if necessary. Since there is no breeding allowed, male animals not already neutered undergo a sterilization procedure when they arrive. However, male African lions' manes are dependent on high testosterone levels, so neutering procedures would cause them to lose their manes. Alternative contraception is achieved by implanting female African lions with implants that depress fertility cycles. 


All three Sanctuaries have their own Veterinary Hospitals dedicated to caring for each facility's residents.  The facilities are state-of-the-art and have nearly every type of specialized medical equipment available with the exception of much larger machines like MRI or Cat Scan units.  For serious and rare medical issues requiring these larger diagnostic machines, our animals are able to be transported to Colorado and Texas State University Veterinary Teaching Hospitals.


All of our Veterinary Hospitals were built with specialized equipment to comfortably accommodate all of our animals including our biggest resident, a 1900-pound Kodiak bear.  Our in-house full-time and part-time veterinarians provide medical coverage both day and night, and occasionally utilize visiting specialists to help solve unique or complicated health problems. Our hospital also provides educational opportunities for outside veterinarians and students who want to specialize in large carnivore care.

Captive Wildlife Education Program

Education about the captive wildlife crisis--its causes and potential solutions--is critically important to the alleviation of suffering endured by millions of animals worldwide.  It may sound idealistic, but The Wild Animal Sanctuary's network of accredited sanctuaries wants to change social consciousness so that people understand that captive large carnivores do not make good pets, and should not be used for entertainment or profit.  We firmly believe that animals are here with us - not for us.


The way to achieve this change in social consciousness is through education.  Every visitor to TWAS facilities receives an orientation to help them understand the need for sanctuaries like ours and what they can do to help alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of captive large carnivores living in substandard conditions across the United States and throughout the world. 

The Sanctuary Speaker's Bureau, made up of staff and volunteers, travels throughout Texas giving presentations to businesses, service clubs, universities and other agencies, town fairs and other public gatherings.  Government agencies and professional organizations involved with captive wildlife issues frequently seek our advice on the animals’ care, transportation and behaviors.  


To schedule a presentation, please contact us or call, 940-433-5091. 

Visit Our


Although our Texas Sanctuary is not open on a normal basis every day, we do allow "Active Supporters" to visit on specific weekends.  To learn more how you can visit, please follow this link.

More About The  Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO

Learn more about The Wild Animal Sanctuary located in Keenesburg, CO.  See how more than 550 Lions, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and other rescued animals are cared for, while also educating hundreds of thousands of people each year.

More Ways To Help

See how you can help support the animals and make a true difference in their lives.  Follow this link to see the many ways you can get involved.

More About The  Sanctuary in Springfield, CO

Learn more about The Wild Animal Refuge located in Springfield, CO.  See how more than 60 animals currently live there and how the 9,684-acre facility is continuously under development so that more rescued animals can be saved and have a wonderful home.

Our Rescued Animals

Learn about our animals and the terrible places they came from.  See how we have rescued them and are now giving them a wonderful life at our Sanctuary.

Adopt An Animal

There is no better way to help on an ongoing basis than to adopt one of our rescued animals.  Your recurring support can make a huge difference for each adopted animal you chose to support.  For as little as $10 per month, you can become an adoptive parent!


The World’s Most Endangered Species Need Your Help!

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