Circuses, zoos, theme parks, and rental companies—the list of organizations that abuse and mistreat wild animals is long and surprising. From magnificently large elephants to fearsome lions and down to the smallest birds and reptiles, animals of all species are ripped from their lives in the wild and brought up in captivity. Unsuited for life behind bars, many of these wild animals suffer physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
But the answer to their plight isn’t as simple as it seems. After years, and sometimes a lifetime in captivity, many animals are incapable of surviving in the wild. For these animals, wildlife sanctuaries step in to provide a better life. Here are five non-profit sanctuaries committed to giving these naturally wild animals a taste of freedom.
The Elephant Sanctuary
Spanning more than 2,700 acres in Tennessee, The Elephant Sanctuary is currently home to 11 retired performing elephants. They came from various zoos and circuses across the country, and the sanctuary is committed to providing them with freedom, healthcare, and room to roam. The land is split into three separate habitats for the Asian and African elephants, with one area designated for residents with long-term health and behavioral issues related to their time in captivity.
The sanctuary focuses on fostering the social bonds elephants rely on for comfort and psychological well-being. The facility is closed to the public, but they prioritize education and teach others about elephants and the hardships faced by those forced to perform.
Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest
Situated east of Seattle in the forested landscape of the Cascade Mountains, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW) takes in chimpanzees used for entertainment and medical testing, as well as a few that were illegally owned as pets. Some were born in captivity and others were captured as infants in the wild, but they all rely on sanctuary staff to live in their new peace and relative freedom.
The 68-acre facility includes both indoor and outdoor environments where the chimps operate as a family unit and find new adventures on a daily basis thanks to volunteers and staff members.
Wolf Haven International
Founded in 1982, Wolf Haven International in Tenino, WA is inhabited by hundreds of displaced and captive-born wolves. The wolf population includes gray wolves, Mexican wolves, red wolves, and wolfdogs. The animals roam the 82-acre sanctuary with the freedom to interact as a pack in the same way they would in the wild.
The facility welcomes visitors and frequently organizes educational events and fundraisers. Their mission is to advocate for wild wolves and teach the public what can be done to help safeguard the wild population.
Bat World Sanctuary
Happy Monday, Peeps! From Peekaboo at Bat World Sanctuary, just outside of Cool, Texas. Please respond with your location. 🙂
There are over 1,200 different species of bats, but they all suffer from the same malicious stereotypes. They’re thought of as scary blood suckers, but these winged mammals are vital parts of a balanced ecosystem. Bat World Sanctuary in Cool, TX is an indoor, natural habitat facility for non-releasable bats.
The lifetime residents were owned by zoos, used for research, confiscated from the exotic pet trade, or permanently injured. Now they live under the care of sanctuary staff who provide protection, healthcare, and animal enrichment. In addition to providing a lifetime home for hundreds of bats, Bat World Sanctuary also works to conserve wild bat colonies and fights for humane treatment of bats in captivity.
Big Cat Rescue
As one of the largest accredited wildlife sanctuaries in the world, Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL is fighting for the animals that have been abused, abandoned, orphaned, and captured. More than eighty lions, tigers, bobcats, and cougars have a permanent home at the sanctuary, saved from being forced to perform or being sold for their fur.
Big Cat Rescue also works to end the sale and possession of exotic cats by supporting legislation and educating the public about preventing extinction in the wild.
Each of these sanctuaries is working toward a world where wild animals live in freedom from possession and abuse. By protecting the animals that are unable to return to the wild, they safeguard species and provide better lives for animals in desperate need of safe, natural environments to call home.