Animal lovers worldwide have both great opportunity and great responsibility to vote with their dollars and voices when it comes to animal welfare.
When choosing an animal attraction to visit, always determine the welfare of the animals, such as how they are cared for and if they are in a natural habitat and living a natural life. Visit animal sanctuaries instead of commercial zoos. Zoos are unnatural environments where animals are kidnapped from the wild, locked up in cages, and used for exploitation. They suffer mentally and physically, and only live a fraction of their natural life span.
There is hope that zoos will become a thing of the past, as humane alternatives are sought. Costa Rica is the first country in the world to shut down all their zoos and India has banned keeping birds in cages.
Animal sanctuaries give animals a second chance to live a happy life. They are all over the world, big and small, sometimes funded and sometimes run by volunteers. The rescues are victims of injuries, exploitation, abuse, neglect, illegally trapped, raised as pets, or rescued from circuses, slaughterhouses, rodeos and other horrific situations.
These dear sweet animals who have endured terrible tragedies are cared for, given food and shelter, and get to be happy, healthy and live out their natural lives safely and in peace.
I recently visited such a sanctuary, Wildlife West, located just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Run completely by volunteers, they receive no funding whatsoever, and rely on visitors and donations.
It’s a beautiful park-like setting, where you can walk along pathways and see (and sometimes interact with) the animals, who are living in safe and natural enclosures, including large fields where they can run to their hearts content.
Wildlife West cares for local wildlife in need of a forever home. Some have been hit by cars, trapped, or even raised as pets. Each has their own story.
Many of their residents have been imprinted by humans (too familiar with humans), and therefore can’t safely live in the wild. All the animals are non-releasable.
Many species happily call this preserve home: prairie dogs, foxes, coyotes, wolves, deer, elk, pronghorn, a bobcat, black bear, raccoon, porcupine, hawk, vulture & more.
The volunteers are remarkably knowledgable, kind and caring. They spend hours daily playing with one of the coyotes that was raised as a dog, and likes to sit, roll over and get tummy rubs. They also provide great public educational opportunities and host local events and festivals to raise awareness and funding for the preserve.
If you are planning to visit New Mexico, stop in and support these sweet animals. And, anywhere else in the world, you can donate or even (virtually) adopt an animal! You’ll receive a personalized adoption certificate in addition to the awesome feeling of helping support sweet and deserving creatures!