Animal Sanctuaries

Posted: 12/18/2020 Last Updated: 12/27/2020

What is an animal sanctuary?

According to Tom Regan, philosopher and author of The Case for Animal Rights (1983), a sanctuary is a facility where animals are brought to live and to be protected for the rest of their lives. Essentially there is no taking from the animals. “Just let them be” kinda philosophy.

Qualities of sanctuary (ideally*):

What are the differences among a farm, a zoo, animal shelter, wildlife preserve/reserve, and a sanctuary?

A farm, be it a large scale factory farm or a small scale mom and pop run farm, has a different purpose than a sanctuary: to sell animal products (or the animal itself). The purchasing and selling of the animals through the same supply chain that perpetuates the problem of the cultivation of animals for consumption is a feature of a farm. A farm purpose is to produce something from the animal.

An animal shelter aims to place an animal with an owner/ caretaker. Where a sanctuary aims to let the animal live until its natural death. Shelter animals are typically ones that could be pets and the shelter as the name implies is only a temporary place of residence where as a sanctuary is a permanent home.

A zoo’s purpose to display to the public animals. While they are taken care of the main criticism of zoos is that the animals lived an enclosed life without any consent or will to leave.

A wildlife preserve/reserve is a piece of land/water, usually sanctioned by a government body, for the purpose of conserving wild animals and plants. The animals are not directly “taken care of” but they are able to live as they naturally would in the wild without interference from humans.

*As a friend of mine who has been in the space for awhile has told me: There are zoos that are great that love and take care of animals well. And there are some sanctuaries that are not so great. It heavily depends on who is running the show/in charge. Basically each of these listed above has a different purpose then the purpose of a sanctuary but at times some of these places might have better treatment then an actual sanctuary.

Accredited sanctuaries vs non accredited “sanctuaries”?

There is an international non-profit called: Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries that has an accreditation program to validate sanctuaries and give them credibility on their practices and behaviors. There is also the American Sanctuary Association (ASA) that can accredit a sanctuary, There are also “Mom and Pop” style sanctuaries that run at a small scale like John Stewart’s sanctuary (by the time I have posted this it has reached scale so bad example).

Different types of sanctuaries:

  1. companion animal sanctuaries: essentially a pets (dogs, cats, bunnies etc.) sanctuary
  2. wildlife sanctuaries: for wildlife animals (wild birds, wolves etc.)
  3. exotic animal sanctuaries (tigers, lions, etc.)
  4. farmed animal sanctuaries (cows, pigs, sheep, horses)

Why should I care?

If you enjoy clean water, good weather, clean air, food, and love animals (pets or not) then you should care about animal sanctuaries because these are all related. They promote the well-being of the animals, the earth, sustainability, and best of all they are wonderful to visit (even if you can’t see the animals).

Where can I find an animal sanctuary?

Currently there are ALOT of websites with sanctuaries listed. There is not a single resource database/website that has them all. While I am still working on unifying this data once and for all in the meantime here are websites that have extensive lists of sanctuaries. Note I am mainly sharing US based animal sanctuaries.

Other sources: