Animal Ark in Reno, Nevada: Background information when reading The Animals

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The Animals

by Christian Kiefer

The Animals by Christian Kiefer X
The Animals by Christian Kiefer
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2015, 320 pages
    Jan 2016, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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About this Book

Animal Ark in Reno, Nevada

This article relates to The Animals

Print Review

In the acknowledgments section at the end of The Animals, Christian Kiefer reveals that the inspiration for Bill Reed's North Idaho Wildlife Rescue came partially from Animal Ark in Reno, Nevada. Opened in 1981, Animal Ark provides a haven for injured and abandoned animals that, for whatever reason, cannot be released back into the wild. Some have been hit by cars or were part of the illegal pet trade.

The operation is set on 38 acres and aims to recreate the native habitat of North American predators. Key groups of species represented at Animal Ark include:

  • Raptors: American kestrel, barn owl, red-tailed hawk, and great-horned owl
  • Canids: Arctic fox, gray wolf, coyote, red fox, and kit fox
  • Felines: bobcat, lynx, and mountain lion

They also give a home to Gracie the black bear, Trixie the American badger, Mr. Peabody the desert tortoise, and Ringo the raccoon. The more exotic species on site – tigers, cheetahs, and a jaguar – have been donated by partner organizations or theme parks. Admissions charges do not fully cover expenses, so Animal Ark relies on grants and regular donations. The sanctuary has been "off grid" since its opening and is committed to environmental sustainability, generating most of its own energy through solar panels and wind.

Whiston the Bobcat, at Animal Ark The Animal Ark website gives an insight into its purpose: "Animal Ark's philosophy is that each animal taken in is provided a home for life. Animal Ark does not engage in captive breeding for the purposes of selling or trading of animals. It is our belief that wild animals belong in the wild and for those animals that are not capable of surviving in the wild on their own, they have the power to represent their wild cousins and educate people about the importance of environmental stewardship."

Animal Ark opens to the public for the months of April through October and also on select holiday weekends during the winter. The sanctuary's focus is on wildlife education. Many of the 10,000 annual visitors are children in school groups. Feeding is always a highlight to watch: food is hidden around the enclosures or in piñatas to encourage hunting and playing activities. The black bears are fed at 10:30 and 1:30 daily.

Nothing is guaranteed when working with wildlife, and Animal Ark's operations have not always gone smoothly. In 1999 a fire near Red Rock had a devastating effect on the grounds; the sanctuary is still recovering by planting trees and increasing the number of ponds available for animals to drink from with a new water system.

In February, several animals were found poisoned. Shere Khan the tiger had to be euthanized and Maddie the wolf was found dead the following day. Jamar, a cheetah, has since recovered. The Pentobarbital and Phenytoin, barbiturates commonly used in euthanasia, were traced back to contaminated meat sold by a company in Colorado. Animal Ark issued this statement about the incident.

Whiston the bobcat is one of many wild animals at Animal Ark in Reno, Nevada. Picture, courtesy of Animal Ark

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Rebecca Foster

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Animals. It originally ran in April 2015 and has been updated for the January 2016 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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