I took my first visit to an animal sanctuary about 15 years ago. Someone I knew told about Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen and, at the first available opportunity, I made the five-hour drive and spent a weekend there. And what a wonderful weekend it was! I got to pet goats, give pigs belly rubs, and hang out with a bunch of cows.
Since then, more sanctuaries have opened in my area, and I try to visit one every year. In the past, I’ve gone to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Luckily there are now two here in New Jersey that are just about an hour away from me – Skylands Sanctuary & Animal Rescue and Tamerlaine Farm Animal Rescue. I spent a day at Tamerlaine recently, and it felt just as wonderful as that first trip to Farm Sanctuary all those years ago. I absolutely love spending time with animals, and I think it’s something everyone should get a chance to do.
If you haven’t visited a farm animal sanctuary yet, stop what you’re doing and make plans to do so. No, seriously – I can wait. At a sanctuary, you’ll get to learn so much about the animals and you’ll make such heartwarming connections with critters you might not normally come into contact with. You may hear some heartbreaking stories about a chicken’s abusive past or a cow’s near death, but those stories also come with amazing rescue tales. You’ll also learn that every animal has his or her own personality, just like people.
5 Reasons to Visit Animal Sanctuaries:
It’s Educational – I’ve learned so much from my visits to animal sanctuaries! Did you know that male turkeys have “beards?” They all have a tuft of black hair that hangs down from their chests, and they’re called beards. Female turkeys don’t usually have them, but female turkeys who aren’t raised males can sometimes develop them. So fascinating!
You Get to Make Connections with the Animals – I’ve always loved animals, and I’ve seen cows and horses in fields, but I had never gotten too up close and personal with them. I knew that they were all similar – that they all need love and care – but it wasn’t until my first trip to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, that this really clicked with me. I was visiting with some cows in a field, and one started grooming another, just as my cats groom each other. In the goat barn, one little guy named Simon followed me around like a puppy, hoping for scritches. (Don’t worry – he got them!) It’s one thing to read about these kinds of things in books, but it’s another to experience them yourself.
The Animals Get to Meet You – Just like cats and dogs like to be around people (well, I guess with cats that can debatable), chickens, turkeys, goats, cows, and pigs like having human company as well. It’s pretty amazing how quickly they learn to adjust and trust people, even when they’ve been in abusive situations. Pigs adore belly rubs, chickens love to be pet under their wings, and goats like to have their necks scratched.
The Sanctuaries Need Your Support – Taking care of animals isn’t cheap, and most sanctuaries rely on donations for their day-to-day operations. The cost of the sanctuary tour, the profit from merchandise they sell, and the donations we give are extremely important for their survival.
It’s Good for the Soul – I really can’t describe the feeling you get when you enter a field and bunch of chickens come over to great you, excited to make a new friend, or when I goat follows you around because he wants to hang out with you. It really is nourishing for the soul. With all of the craziness that goes on in the world, there is something truly magical about spending time with innocent animals who want nothing from you, expect for maybe a few belly rubs and a hug.
Do you have a sanctuary you love to visit?