There are no lions or tigers or bears. But there is an African tortoise, two wallabies and a potbellied big named Frankie who loves to meet new people.
The animals live on a secluded property nestled among the hills near Larkspur. White fences line the grounds, weaving around red barns, pastures and the on-site home of Jami Jensen, founder of the Zoology Foundation.
The nonprofit has operated as a private animal sanctuary since 2009. But this summer, it plans to bring the public to its doors and teach how animals wind up in sanctuaries.
“We would like to collaborate and share this amazing place with as many organizations as makes sense,” executive director Avie Rosacci said.
The new programming will include partnerships with organizations that serve at-risk youth and disabled individuals, and a youth summer camp being piloted with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at University of Denver.
Before opening to the public, the Zoology Foundation first needed to become a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected sanctuary. It got the green light from inspectors on May 12, Rosacci said.
For now, the sanctuary’s two camels will be kept in a nearby pasture until USDA-approved fencing can be constructed, a $50,000 project for which the organization is seeking donations. The sanctuary will host a fundraiser at Comedy Works-South on July 11 toward that goal.
In the meantime, Zoology will welcome the public to meet its other 140 animals.
Foundation started with a bet
The sanctuary doesn’t function like a zoo, where people learn basic facts about the animal species they see, Rosaaci said.
“We want them to make a connection with the animals,” said Maggie Lantzy, the sanctuary manager and program director. “Not just look at them through a fence.”
Zoology will specifically seek to teach people how to responsibly own animals and prevent them from needing to be sent to sanctuaries, Lantzy said. Most of the 140 animals at Zoology were…