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Animal sanctuary must pave road to open

May 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
From tigers to reptiles, cougars and leopards, The Forever Wild Sanctuary is the last stop for many exotic animals. But the facility in Phelan can't open its doors. San Bernardino County officials say the sanctuary must pave the dirt road leading to the sanctuary, at a cost of about $1 million. Twenty-four big cats, tigers, lions, 60 reptiles and several birds are housed in the Learning Center at the Forever Wild Sanctuary in Phelan.

The sanctuary was featured in a recent Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show on ABC.

The sanctuary owners were given a new home and the Learning Center was built from the ground up.

The center has not opened to the public because of a dirt road. San Bernardino County officials say the sanctuary cannot open until 1.3 miles of Buttemeier Road are paved.

"We are still working on a resolution. The county is looking for businesses who could perhaps donate materials and labor to get the road built so that sanctuary can be opened. The county wants the sanctuary to open for the public and for school children, but the road is a matter of public safety," said David Wert, San Bernardino County spokesperson.

Joel Almquist has operated the sanctuary for almost a decade.

"Right now we are not ready to open to the public. Right now we are working with the county on the road issue. We are hoping very soon that we will be able to allow the public to come in. We are ready to open the doors. All we have to do is unlock the front door and we are ready to go," said Almquist.

Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary is located at 8545 Buttemeier Road in Phelan, CA. For more information about the sanctuary you can call (760) 868-2755.

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