Feature

Where The Wild Things Are

By
January 1996

Sitting on his porch smoking a cigarette, Mike Jurich talks a blue streak about saving animals. Massive warm hands with beaded bracelets show recent scratches from playing with Saskia, one of his Siberian tiger cubs, coupled with older scars that attest to his many years as "Wild Kingdom's" version of Mother Teresa.

On his 42-acre Prairie Wind Wild Animal Refuge located about two hours east of Denver in the town of Agate, Jurich, 51, literally lives among the wild animals he dedicates his life to. Within a stone's throw of his front door, Tess and Travis, 450- and 600-pound Bengal tigers, lounge like lazy house cats. His 100-year-old, once-abandoned home also houses a wild cat cub nursery. In addition to a slew of domestic species, some 50 wild animals, including African lions, tigers, cougars, jaguars, bobcats, wolves, wolf hybrids, black bears, foxes, racoons, and coyotes have found a new home at Jurich's non-profit sanctuary.