After months on end of staying close to home, are you itching to get out and go? Get wild and head to Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary. Located north of Reno, Animal Ark is home to a variety of North American predators, and a few non-predator and exotic creatures. Since 1981, the sanctuary has been rehabilitating and caring for animals that could not be released back into the wild as they would not be able to survive on their own.

Though perfectly suited for visitors of any age, it’s a great place to take the kids when they’re looking for something fun to do after a mentally exhausting week of distance learning and all that pent-up energy. Stroll along 38 acres of open terrain and you’ll find yourself chanting, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” as you watch those plus raccoons, tortoises, foxes, owls, birds, and more frolic and fly about in enclosures designed to replicate their natural settings.

While some critters and creatures were found abandoned, others were brought in with injuries that prevented them from returning to the wild. Meet North American Black Bear LG (aka Eli), who in 2010 was found as an orphaned cub on a freezing cold night off Mt. Rose Highway. LG’s bio states that he wouldn’t have lasted another night out there on his own. You can also get acquainted with Moyo and Jamar, two cheetahs who in 2006 made the arduous journey from Cape Town, South Africa to their new home at Animal Ark.

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TIGER-LADY: Poppy arrived at Animal Ark in 2017. At just 4-and-a-half months old, she had been born in captivity and was no longer able to be adequately cared for by her owners, who reached out to Animal Ark to take her. Courtesy photo

Find more information online about fun and exciting events like the On the Wind Cheetah Run on Sept. 13, the Harvest Festival on Oct. 10, and the Last Chance Cheetah Dash on Oct. 17. On the cheetah run days, watch as these majestic predators, the world’s fastest land mammal — some can run up to 70 mph! — reach top speeds around the run field. At the Harvest Festival, watch the resident animals each enjoy a pumpkin filled with some of their favorite tasty treats.

Reservations and tickets are required for special events. Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary is open daily through Nov. 1 and opens from time to time in its off season for special events like Thanksgiving Day and Wild Winter Weekends. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors, and $8.50 for children 3 to 12; kids 2 and under are free.

Make a day of it and pack lunch to enjoy at the picnic area while the kids burn some energy at the playground. Snacks, drinks, ice cream, and souvenirs are available at the gift shop. It’s recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes and don’t forget to pack the sunscreen. If the weather is iffy, call before you go to be sure of any operating changes.

INFO: 1625 Deerlodge Rd., Reno; (775) 970-3111; animalark.org

~ Juliana Demarest/Moonshine Ink