Keeper of the Wild gets outstanding charity rating, 8 new cats

Eight new big cats will eat about $6,000 in meat, and they will win hearts at Keepers of the Wild.

Courtesy/Keepers of the Wild

Eight new big cats will eat about $6,000 in meat, and they will win hearts at Keepers of the Wild.

KINGMAN – Keepers of the Wild has got new kudos and cats.

According to Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, the animal sanctuary recently nabbed a 4-star rating from the evaluator for its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency. This is the first time that Keepers of the Wild has earned this top distinction.

“It’s important our donors trust that we’re using their donations wisely to protect abused, neglected, abandoned and retired captive wildlife.” said Jonathan Kraft, Founder and Executive Director of Keepers of the Wild. “Our 4-star Charity Navigator rating demonstrates to our supporters our good governance and financial accountability.”

In addition to the rating, the park also has some new, gigantic mouths to feed. In November, the sanctuary took in eight big cats. Three lions, two leopards, two cougars and a Canadian Lynx will join the family of 160 other animals.

“They came from a deplorable place in South Dakota,” Kraft said. He was referring to the Spirit of the Hills Animal Sanctuary in Spearfish, S.D., which was closed after a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection found several animals malnourished.

“They were definitely malnourished,” Kraft said. “One cougar is going in for root canals due to bad teeth.”

Other cats are undergoing medical care. Kraft said the lions are already in good health. The animals are currently in quarantine and will start being released next week into their four large habitats, which cost nearly $120,000.

“That increases the food bill by about $6,000 a month,” Kraft said. “We spend about $30,000 a month in beef. That’s not including all the food for the other animals.”

The carnivores (wolves and cats) go through about 500 pounds (at $3 a pound) of meat a day. Those animals eat six days a week with one day to fast so they can clean out their systems.

Kraft gets the meat from local ranchers who get it from their livestock and from the Prescott Livestock Auction. He pays the same price as any other rancher buying the meat and gets the same fit-for-human-consumption quality. Each big cat eats roughly 10 to 12 pounds a day – about $40 worth of meat per animal.

Kraft also buys pallets of turkeys from Walmart. He gets four turkeys per box and about 30 boxes per pallet.

“We get three or four pallets at time,” he said.

The money for the meat, shelters, vet care, insurance, maintenance, utilities and payroll for 22 staff members mostly comes from donations. The rest comes from grants, park admission and the gift shop. Kraft says the sanctuary costs about $1.5 million a year to operate.

He didn’t have ages on the cats, but said age doesn’t matter for any animal, “We get them at all ages. We don’t care how old they are. If they need rescued, we rescue them.”

It’s that kind of transparency that sets Keepers of the Wild’s exceptional 4-star rating apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public according to Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher.

“Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds Keepers of the Wild to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges,” he said. “Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support Keepers of the Wild.”

The sanctuary’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on www.charitynavigator.org. More-detailed information about the rating is available to Charity Navigator site visitors who become registered users, another free service.

Keepers of the Wild moved to Valentine ten years ago. In that time the organization has grown and currently provides a life-long home to fifty species of exotic and native wildlife that cannot be released into their native homes. The 160 animals are seen by local, national and international visitors who benefit from their educational tours, enjoy seeing the beauty of the animals and hearing their stories.

The park consistently receives 4 and 5-Star Reviews from park visitors and is thrilled to receive the 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator.

Park video and clips may be accessed on Keepers of the Wild YouTube Page.

Charity Navigator Review may be accessed at: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=15432.