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Photo: Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary.

7 Fresh Animal Encounters in Colorado

These locations are doing their part to care for creatures and educate animal-loving kids.

If you have little animal lovers at home, the occasional trip to the zoo isn’t always enough to satisfy their obsession for furry, scaled, and feathered creatures. Check out these spots for different ways to engage with animals all summer long.

Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary 

Broken Shovels is home to more than 23 species of farm animals that were rescued from situations of neglect, abuse, or abandonment. Purchase event tickets online in advance for a day they are open to the public. Get up close with cows, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, horses, mules, yaks, and water buffalo, including many babies and young animals. $20 per person, free under 12 months. Commerce City.

Denver Cat Company

Relax in a comfy chair, get a warm drink, read, shop for gift items, or work on your laptop while interacting with friendly cats. This cat café allows you to reserve a time or walk in to visit with cats who are up for adoption through their nonprofit arm, The Denver Cat Rescue. Memberships and gift cards are available for regular cat café visitors. $12 ages one to 59, $10 students age 16 and up (with ID). Denver.

Photo: Wild Animal Sanctuary.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Stroll along raised walkways to view animals that were rescued from illegal or abusive situations, now living in natural habitats on more than 789 acres. The sanctuary is home to around 650 animals, including African lions, bears, camels, leopards, and tigers—many of the latter were rescued from Joe Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park featured on the Netflix series, Tiger King. To help raise funds for the animals’ care, participate in Run Into The Wild on June 11, or attend one of their Summer Safari Dinners in June, August, and September. $50 adult day pass, $30 ages three to 12, free age two and under. Keenesburg.

Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

Reserve a spot for the center’s Kids Wolf Tours, one hour long for ages six to 11, available once per month throughout the year (June 9, July 7, and August 11). Participants will learn about the wolf traits, adaptations, and the impact of removing a species from the ecosystem. Standard one-hour tours for all ages are available Tuesday through Sunday, and include viewing wolves, coyotes, and foxes, while learning history and biology. Also available is a tour featuring the resident coyote-dog, Ringo, as well as special full-moon tours and feeding tours. $15 to $25 per person, varying rates for special tours. Divide.

Photo: Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

Colorado Gators Reptile Park

Kids can receive a Certificate of Bravery after holding a small alligator at this center for reptile rescue and education. If that’s not your child’s dream, there are plenty of opportunities to feed alligators, free-roaming tortoises, and fish; meet smaller snakes and lizards; and see hundreds of rescued reptiles. There’s also a chance to take a boat ride. $20 adult, $10 ages six to 15 and age 65 to 79, free age five and under. Mosca. 

Sunflower Farm

Interact with the new baby goats, horses, sheep, cows, llamas, alpaca, and free-roaming chickens at this urban farm. Kids can also enjoy the new merry-go-round, as well as tire swings, sandboxes, bicycles, and more on the farm property. Online reservations are required for Farmfest public hours; Palo Coffee and Bar will be on site serving drinks and snow cones on select dates. Check the website for upcoming Summer Music Evenings and Acoustic Jamborees, held this summer. $17 per person, free under 12 months old. Longmont.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

View native wildlife from your car on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal’s 11-mile self-guided auto tour. You’ll have the opportunity to see bison, deer, raptors, coyotes, prairie dogs, waterfowl, and songbirds. Listen to the refuge podcast along the route, which takes 45 minutes to one hour to complete. Hiking, fishing, biking, and archery are available on the property as well. The Refuge is also home to the endangered black-footed ferret, as well as 330 species of animals. Free. Commerce City.



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