With a quick click of your heels and a mere twenty minutes jaunt east of Kingman, Arizona, you and your family can embark on a journey far wilder than anything Dorothy ever experienced in Oz. Instead of the Yellow Brick Road, however, just follow Historic Route 66 to Valentine, Arizona and the Keepers of the Wild Animal Sanctuary where you can experience an entertaining, engaging and informative safari tour with one of the knowledgeable keepers and learn more about the rescued animals who call Keepers home. The park also offers a self-paced walking tour that allows you to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and observe the animals at your leisure.
Lions, and, Tigers, and Bears…Oh, My!
The Keepers of the Wild Animal Sanctuary does have lions, and tigers, and bears, oh, my—but with over 140 animals currently in residence, this picturesque 175-acre canyon also offers close range viewing of other species including bears, big cats, leopards, wolves, and indigenous Southwestern wildlife like bobcats, cougars, and coyotes. There are also a few monkeys, but don’t worry—none of them fly.
With your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to observe many of the sanctuary’s denizens, like Sasha, the Bengal tiger, Cindy, the cougar, LaCota and Mateo, the alpacas, Yuma, the Great Horned Owl, and many more.
The Magic of Turning an Act into Activism
Jonathan Kraft, founder of Keepers of the Wild, performed for years as a Las Vegas illusionist. In his act, he employed exotic animals like big cats in his events. Though Jonathan loved his animals and extended the utmost care possible, he realized that practice was not the standard. Performing animals were subjected to abusive training methods as well as cruel breeding practices. They often remained caged for long periods of time while awaiting their ten minutes of fame. Soon, Jonathan realized, like Dorothy, that “there’s no place like home.” These animals deserved the freedom to roam in nature where they belonged.
In 1995, Jonathan waved his magic wand and turned his act into activism. He retired from show business to devote his full attention to the rescue and rehabilitation of captive wildlife—but his magic didn’t stop there. In addition to providing a safe environment for rescued animals to live, he has made great strides in educating the public about many animal welfare and ecological issues currently facing society—topics such as poaching, captive breeding practices, the illegal wildlife trade, and habitat encroachment—all practices and subjects which threaten wildlife populations the world over.
Every Visit a Victory
The Keepers of the Wild preserve in Valentine, AZ is a hidden gem for those looking to get up close and personal with wildlife. Every visit is a victory, for visitors and the animals, helping further the goal of the preserve: “To provide a home for orphaned or injured animals that cannot be released back into the wild.” As a registered 501(c)(3), every purchase goes to the support of the animals. The park is open to visitors Wednesday through Monday, 9 am to 5 pm MT. It is closed on Tuesdays as well as Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. General admission prices are: Children 2 and Under, Free; Children 3-12, $12; Adults $20; Seniors 65+, $15; and Military/First Responders/Police, $15. For a guided safari tour, prices are Children 2 and Under, Free; Children 3-12, $22; Adults, $30; Seniors 65+, $25; and Military/First Responders/Police, $25.
So, if you’re looking to get a little “wild” during your stay at Zuni RV Village in Kingman, Arizona, visit the Keepers of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in nearby Valentine. You’re sure to have a “roaring” good time—oh, my!