Sanctuaries as Homes

What is a sanctuary and why are they important?
A sanctuary is a place of refuge for animals that have been abandoned or mistreated and exist to provide animals with a home where they can spend the rest of their lives and provide them with humane and responsible care. Animals in sanctuaries cannot be returned to their natural habitat because they are no longer fit to survive in the wild due to injury or loss of survival skills that would normally keep them safe. Sanctuaries have helped rescue and provide homes to animals that have been victims of roadside zoos, laboratories, factory farming, circuses, exotic pet owners, and breeders. Sanctuaries differ from zoos because they do not profit off of the animals nor do they put them on display. Instead sanctuaries provide wildlife with optimal care in natural habitat settings while simultaneously educating humans on the importance of animal advocacy.

How to tell if a place is a REAL sanctuary
One of the most important ways to tell if a sanctuary is real or not is to look at how the animals are acquired. A true sanctuary will never purchase or capture their animals. Animals living in sanctuaries are seen as individuals and are rescued due to their inability to live on their own in the wild. True sanctuaries do their best to replicate an animal’s habitat by providing them with spacious lands to roam around on that are both emotionally and physically stimulating. These natural habitats are not easily accessible making this one of the reasons why sanctuaries are closed to the public. A real sanctuary will never have small or cramped cages and will most likely be accredited. Sanctuaries can gain accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries or from the Animal Sanctuary Association which both have a strong and extensive list of guidelines to follow. Being an accredited sanctuary insures that the needs of the animals are being met first and that some sort of educational development is provided to humans to help them better advocate for animals.

Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary – New Zealand
A sanctuary and a conservation project, the Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary of New Zealand was built on an island that had previously been used for farming that nearly destroyed the birdlife on the island. After revegetating the island and releasing rare and endangered species of birds, visitors can now take a ferry to Tiritiri Matangi island where they can view birds in their natural habitat as well as hike and learn about wildlife on the island. The Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary continuously creates a biodiversity plan to maintain and prepare recommendations for future conservation of birds, plants, and other wildlife on the island.

Check out their website here

Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary – Ghana
The Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary is one that works to preserve and protect a 40 km stretch of the Black Volta River in Ghana, Africa. This river is home to one of two hippo populations left in Ghana. The Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary is a community-based project that was created by local chiefs in 1999 to protect and enhance plant and wildlife populations. The sanctuary works to provide visitors with information about hippos, conservation and the local community which they believe provides a positive eco-travel experience.

Check out their website here

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary – USA
In 2004 a couple from Woodstock, New York rescued a group of chickens and a rooster that had been abandoned by a factory farm. After that, the couple Jenny and Doug used their wedding as a fundraiser to help establish the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary where animal residents are given lifelong sanctuary and refuge from factory farming. Factory farming creates a terrible life for animals and leaves lasting negative effects on the environment. The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary promotes peace among all living beings and helps educate humans by advancing veganism and promoting animal rights along with other social justice issues.

Check out their website here

Fanimal call to action
Sanctuaries exist to help keep animals safe – animals whose environments and lives have been permanently affected in some way. Sanctuaries also provide humans with knowledge of how to advocate for and respect animals. They help preserve natural habitats and serve as a place for wholesome outdoor recreation.

Almost all sanctuaries provide the opportunity to volunteer or to be put on a waitlist to become a volunteer. While you may not come in direct contact with animals as a volunteer, you will be helping to make sure the animals are respected and cared for. The easiest way to become a volunteer for a sanctuary is to look for a “volunteer” tab on a sanctuary’s website. If you cannot volunteer but still want to help advocate for animals donations can be made on sanctuary websites as well. Most sanctuaries are funded directly from donations and rely on animal advocates to continuously grow their operations and admit more animals in need.

Sanctuaries can also make tourism more eco-friendly and beneficial to our planet. Planning a vacation around a volunteer opportunity or incorporating a visit to a sanctuary in an already planned trip can have a positive environmental impact by educating visitors on the protection of species and environments. Choosing to spend time and money on visiting a sanctuary versus other tourist attractions is a positive investment for the environment in which you are a guest and can have lasting positive impacts.

Sources: Animal Sanctuary Association, Farm Sanctuary, Ghana Hippos, Holly Hedge, LiveScience, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, National Geographic, Paws Web, Peta, Sanctuary Federation, Sloth Sanctuary, ThoughtCo, Tiritiri Matangi, Visitor Guard, Woodstock Sanctuary