Wildlife West Nature Park

Steingass Wildlife West Nature Park sign designed and created by volunteers.

Wildlife West Nature Park

A high-desert native wildlife zoo and fun festivals

By Karen Leach

Come meet Koshari, one of the largest black bears in the state, get eye to eye with 7-year-old cougar sisters True and Zia, observe four adorable tree-climbing gray foxes, and visit 20 other species of native wildlife and raptors who call Wildlife West Nature Park their home. There are very few places where you can get an up-close experience with these animals as well as elk, bobcats, javelina, crested caracaras, and all the friendly wildlife waiting to meet you.

Surrounded by wildflowers and trees native to this beautiful high desert region, Wildlife West is one of the premier nature parks in the southwest. It’s located in Edgewood, about 25 minutes east of Albuquerque and just a short detour off I-40 and historic Route 66. The 122-acre wildlife refuge and enhanced zoo is open to the public year-round. Its western character is fun for the entire family.

Cougar Zia’s front paw was caught in a wire and was rescued and brought to Wildlife West at a young age.

Cougar Zia’s front paw was caught in a wire and was rescued and brought to Wildlife West at a young age.

All the lucky animals in the park have been rescued and could not otherwise survive in the wild. They all have names, and their stories and information are displayed at each habitat. Deshka, a magnificent bald eagle, was found 28 years ago along the Deshka River in Alaska with a broken left wing. Eagles can live up to 50 years in captivity. Bob the bobcat was bottle fed for weeks before his eyes were open, and Foxie the red fox was an illegal pet living in an apartment and then released out into the complex to fend for herself. These and the other non-releasable wildlife and raptors now have a permanent and happy home at Wildlife West. They serve as ambassadors, providing an excellent opportunity to educate the public and especially kids about the importance of coexisting with wildlife and the need for habitat protection.

Wildlife West, a nonprofit organization, has been in the community for more than 30 years and is managed through volunteer support. Volunteers are the true spirit of the park. Some have volunteered for 15 to 27 years, and all have their own unique stories. The volunteer feeders come everyday rain or shine and have a very special connection to each rescued animal. They spend many loving hours with the animals, providing enrichment opportunities that keep their animal friends happy and healthy. Park volunteers also include habitat construction workers, gift shop greeters, landscapers, marketing experts, grant writers, and social media experts.

Bob the Bobcat.

Bob the Bobcat.

In addition to the furry and feathered friends at Wildlife West, the park hosts a calendar of fun and educational events that attract thousands of visitors, including the Annual New Mexico Renaissance Celtic Festival, Wild West Frontier Festival, Pirate and Viking Summer Bash, art and fiber festivals, raptor presentations, a variety of western music shows, and more. All events take place at the park’s large all-weather amphitheater or in the restored western barn. Kids love to explore the hands-on imagination trail with elk and deer antlers, examples of wildlife prints and climbing structures. Thousands of school aged children visit the park on field trips inspiring them at a young age to cultivate life-long values and understanding about wildlife and the world around them.

Bald eagle Deshka resculed on the Deshka River
in Alaska with a broken wing.

Bald eagle Deshka resculed on the Deshka River in Alaska with a broken wing.

Winter, summer, spring, or fall, Wildlife West Nature Park changes with the seasons, but remains beautiful year-round with picnic areas, and a covered amphitheater available for family events and corporate parties. More information about Wildlife West Nature Park is available at wildlifewest.org.

Karen Leach has been a Wildlife West Nature Park volunteer for the past 18 years.


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