Wildlife West

Bob the Bobcat

This year, Jim and I did something different for my birthday.  Having missed the animals at the State Fair, we drove out to Wildlife West Nature Park & Rescued Wildlife Zoo, a place we’d long meant to visit, but hadn’t gotten around to.

Wildlife West specializes in giving homes to animals that, for one reason or another, cannot be released into the wild.  In some cases, this was due to injury.  In others, the animals were too acclimated to humans to be safe in the wild.  These fell into two general categories: animals who had been illegally removed from the wild and kept as pets, and animals that had been found abandoned when still very young and had been raised by humans.

The final category was the smallest: animals that had decided that it was easier to scavenge from humans than to follow their more natural lifeways.  Our favorite of these was the black bear who had been a “three-time offender” at Navajo Lake.  He specialized in raiding coolers on boats!  Now he has a spacious enclosure, and when we were there, was contentedly napping in the shade.

Although all the resident animals belonged to our local ecosystem, there was a wide variety in residence, both avians and mammals.  Although carnivores and omnivores dominated the selection, there were several herbivores, including a pair of elk and a mule deer.  The bull elk came right down to the edge of the enclosure, showed us how he could scratch his magnificent antlers on one of the junipers, and then stayed to visit.

Velcro the Mule Deer

In fact, all the resident animals seemed to view the humans as being there for their amusement, rather than the other way around.  Since feeding the animals is expressly forbidden, this was not begging behavior, just curiosity.

Did I have a favorite?  Not really.  In addition to the aforementioned elk, there was a bobcat who was happily hunting (or pretending to hunt) something small among the shrubs in his enclosure.  There was the little grey fox who decided to show us just how easily his kind can climb trees.  (Several of his enclosure-mates were drowsing up among the branches.)

There were the pair of the caracara (a type of raptor) who came over to the window of their enclosure and made a sound rather like a muted jackhammer, while doing what looked rather like calisthenics.  There were the two mountain lions who studied us, one from her “cave,” the other from the treehouse the local Lion’s Club had built for them.  There was the coyote who came out of her comfortable bed in the shade to trot around her enclosure before settling down again.

Background to our visit was a large flock of ravens who were riding the breezes, quorking and calling, and in general seeming to agree with us that this was a very nice place to be. 

Wildlife West is located in Edgewood, New Mexico, about twenty minutes east of Albuquerque.  Once you leave the city, the drive through Tijeras Canyon and into the mountains is lovely in itself.  (Side note: The directions on the park’s website need updating, because the gas station they use as a landmark is no longer a Conoco.)  In addition to the animals, there’s a selfie-friendly fake “western town” they use for events, such as their summer-time chuckwagon cookout.  There are rest facilities, but (other than for specific events) no food.  However, there is also a nice little giftshop, where a limited selection of snacks and chilled drinks can be purchased.

We already plan to go back in a month or so, when it’s cooler, for another visit.  There’s a walking trail we haven’t done yet, and a portion of the facility is set aside as a resting place for migrating birds.  Who knows who might have stopped by next time we’re there?

Red Fox Resting in the Shade

2 Responses to “Wildlife West”

  1. Harried Harry Says:

    Looking at the different animals you have pictured is nice. Lately a lot of flowers have shown up in pictures as have deer and elk from Ruidoso. Seeing animals in a nice location is soothing to the soul.

    Keep up with the nice picture taking. Enjoy the week and your Fall season.

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    That sounds like a fantastic way to celebrate your birthday! I think we have a refuge not too far from where I live… I might have to start hinting to my daughters about going. Thanks for the idea, and Happy Birthday!🥳

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