KEENSBURG, Colo. -- A neglected black bear felt dirt for the first time at her new home in Colorado this week.
Lily is a 10-year-old Asiatic black bear. She grew up in a 12-foot diameter concrete pen at Deer Haven Mini Zoo, a roadside zoo in Keymar, Md. According to PETA, Deer Haven was cited for allowing Lily to live with “an excessive” amount of her own waste.
“She was ankle deep in feces and urine,” Wild Animal Sanctuary Director Pat Craig said. “She’s insanely overweight. She sat in that tiny cage and just had nothing to do but eat all the time.”
Lily's cage in Maryland was made of concrete. According to Craig, she had never set foot on dirt, grass or any other natural substance.
According to PETA, Lily’s owner agreed to turn the bear over to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg after a public outcry about her safety.
She was moved across the country and introduced to her new habitat on Friday.
While she is getting used to her new surroundings, Lily is being kept in a small pen with access to an underground den. She will stay there until she acclimates to the altitude, nature and her new roommates.
“She’ll end up roaming freely in this habitat,” Craig said. “This is as close to living in the wild as it’s going to get for them.”
Lily’s habitat is a 15 acre plot where she will be able to eat, exercise, hibernate and socialize.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary has 450 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other carnivores. It is the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world.
It takes in animals that have been raised by humans and neglected or abused. The animals in Keensburg spend the rest of their lives in large, natural habitats.
“Their habitats are shrinking so fast that there’s no room for these guys to go back to the wild, let alone they don’t know how to do it,” Craig said.
It is a place where wild animals like Lily can get back to their roots.
“That’s probably the coolest thing, is to watch them change and be happy,” Craig said.