Forever Wild, Forever Home

The Story of The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado

Non-Fiction - Animals
232 Pages
Reviewed on 03/12/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Forever Wild, Forever Home: The Story of The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado is a work of non-fiction that was penned by Melanie and Mark Shellenbarger. The book was written to celebrate the forty-year anniversary of the world’s leading large carnivore sanctuary. Covering the history of the sanctuary as well as its mission and the residents that have passed through its doors, the book is a celebration of the accomplishments the sanctuary has achieved since its inception as well as a heartfelt tribute to the work done by the employees and volunteers at the Sanctuary who have made its mission possible.

Author team Melanie and Mark Shellenbarger have crafted a beautifully presented and very engaging work of non-fiction with plenty of informative and emotive content to offer readers. In times like these, more than ever we really need a reminder that good people and good, charitable works exist, and this emotionally stirring tale documents the incredible work of just such people and what they do to help animals in need. It really makes readers want to visit the sanctuary and get involved in activism to stop such terrible cruelty happening the world over, whilst also providing great information. I also really enjoyed the human element to the history, celebrating and featuring those who work hard to care for such beautiful animals and help them recover from terrible mistreatment. Overall, I would highly recommend Forever Wild, Forever Home: The Story of The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado to fans of inspirational stories, gorgeous photography, and to animal lovers everywhere.

Asher Syed

Forever Wild, Forever Home: The Story of The Wild Animal Sanctuary of Colorado by Melanie and Mark Shellenbarger details the origins and impact of the Keenesburg refuge. Over the course of seventeen distinct chapters, the Shellenbargers offer an incredible amount of backstory as the book describes how the sanctuary came to be. It feels like nothing is overlooked as readers are given a front-row armchair tour of aspects of its running. These include a glimpse into the early 1980s when the captive animal crisis was barely above a whisper but was still being spoken of, something neglected before. From here we receive short stories and insight into the size and growing pains of the sanctuary, its mission, its collaborations, all things carnivore care, the sanctuary's ethos, and the animals it houses, to name a few. In addition to all of this, full-color photographs are sprinkled liberally throughout the book.

Forever Wild, Forever Home is one of those bittersweet stories, sweet in the incredible work being done but bitter because the work itself is even necessary. Melanie and Mark Shellenbarger write with clean, tight, and inviting prose. The narrative is as comfortable as their love for the animals and the desire to save them is incomparable. Rescue non-fiction is always going to have some parts that are tough to read by nature of the accounts being a lot more heartbreaking than we anticipate. What makes this book special is that it is so obviously told from a place of love and for no other reason at all. Descriptions of the conditions prior to rescue will likely cause the same pain to other readers that it has for me but the Shellenbargers soften these deliveries with some of the most fun snips of time, such as a major surgery on the injured rescue bear named Marley, and the recovery period that included cartoons, problem-solving for treats, and playing hide and seek. This is a fantastic book that really warms the heart and gets it pumping, particularly in the knowledge that the world is a better place because of this sanctuary.