Kendall Seifert’s chief passions in life are squirrels and swingers. For the last few years he has maintained this unusual combination of interests, protecting the former while promoting the latter, running a wildlife rescue centre and a swingers club in Colorado – on the same premises. Or he did. Seifert, 53, is due up in court on felony charges in November after the state raided his business in Littleton, near Denver, and put a stop to the controversial side of his activities. That would be squirrel rescue. His animal sanctuary has been shut down. His swingers club, Scarlet Ranch, is still going. Seifert maintains that all his interests are entirely legal and above board. “I’m going to fight this,” he said of the criminal case against his animal sanctuary. He claims the state raided the center, Squirrel Creek Wildlife Rescue, because it doesn’t like the fact that he owns a swingers club alongside.
And he argues that the main effect the state’s actions have had is to send a trail of orphaned and injured animals to a dwindling number of other rescue centres that are already under strain and coping with a seasonal influx of baby squirrels.
Other distressed and wandering wildlife that have had to find alternative places of solace include raccoons, foxes, song birds, coyotes, skunks and rabbits.
But the Colorado parks and wildlife government agency filed 21 criminal charges and refused to renew Seifert’s animal rehabilitation licence, accusing him of keeping rescued animals for too long and violating regulations by putting them on display.
The charges also include an attempt to bribe a public officer and the illegal transportation of wildlife.
In one part of the premises, a bar area at Scarlet Ranch backs directly on to animal cages.
Seifert said he doesn’t keep animals in the cages while the club is operating, however - and creatures of the night, whether raccoons or raunchy dancers, are kept at a safe distance from each other.
“There was no cruelty to the animals. The only cruelty was officers coming in with guns and raiding Squirrel Creek,” said Seifert.
He said he isn’t a swinger himself but believes that society should be more open to the idea of sex parties and sexual experimentation. He has owned Scarlet Ranch for 15 years and runs indoor and outdoor adult nudist gatherings, foam cannon parties, a restaurant, themed events, and open “play” areas and “play rooms” at the basement level where consenting club members are free to indulge their carnal desires.
“I think it’s important to broaden some of the puritanical views in our country and be more open about sex and sexuality. But it’s not a free-for-all, it’s a private country club,” he said.
“I used to be a lot more outspoken about all of that activism in the past, and it’s a great confidence-builder for the over-40s, but lately I’ve changed my interests more to rescuing wildlife,” he said.
Seifert said he wants to educate people about wildlife and is particularly against the trophy aspect of hunting, when people kill the largest bears and mountain lions they can find.
“I want the next generation to learn about cohabitation with wildlife, not going out shooting everything,” he said.
Colorado parks and wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said the agency could not comment on Seifert’s case, but it did take its job of regulating wildlife rehab seriously.
“Our wild animals make their living by being wild and retaining their natural instincts on how to survive in the wild. So it’s very important that we don’t have people keeping animals too long and turning them into pets,” she said.
Bob Nightwalker, an animal rehabilitation expert, said he was shocked when Squirrel Creek was shut down. He said he didn’t want to comment on the criminal charges facing Seifert, and had not seen his facilities, but that he had not been aware of any licence violations. He and Squirrel Creek had often sent each other animals if they were full up, he said.
He added that he didn't mind that Seifert’s rescue centre premises doubled as a swingers club.