"We're getting more involvement from the public, more congresspeople and senators willing to pass legislation," says Craig. "If you could stomp out half the breeding, that would make a gigantic difference."

As Craig holds forth and Ginger purrs, a team of volunteers loads up plastic tubs of baguettes, carrots and other produce to be transported by ATV to the bear habitat. A refrigerated truck full of turkeys for the cats awaits the defrosting process. The daily routine at the sanctuary may not make a gigantic difference on the scale Craig is talking about, but it's still a formidable undertaking.

The sanctuary's guests are in a strange kind of limbo — primal but sterile, wild at heart but with no place in the natural world. They have learned firsthand about the human capacity for cruelty. It's a lesson as old as Shakespeare. "No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity," remonstrates Lady Anne in Richard III. "But I know none," Richard replies, "and therefore am no beast."

Home on the range: The Wild Animal Sanctuary hosts dozens of black and grizzly bears as well as big cats and wolves
Home on the range: The Wild Animal Sanctuary hosts dozens of black and grizzly bears as well as big cats and wolves

Yet that's only part of the story. Pat Craig thinks his beasts have something to teach his own species about what it means to be humane.

"A lot of people who want to do this have a good heart," he says. "They don't realize that this is a giant drain. But if you do it long enough, you learn a lot about animals — and about people."

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