How NOT to Start a Sanctuary

I received a phone call today. I’m sure the caller meant well. But the conversation went something like this.

Caller:  I’m calling because I want to start an animal sanctuary.

Me:  What kind of species?

Caller: I’m not sure.

Me: Domestic or wildlife?

Caller:  I’m not sure.

Me:  Have you run a business or nonprofit before?

Caller:  No. I’m wondering how you start.

Me: Well, I would suggest you volunteer at a sanctuary as a first step.

Caller: But I was wondering where I go to get money to start. I mean, shouldn’t I buy some land first or something like that?

At that point I began to talk about the virtues of alternative careers.

Running a sanctuary is a very sophisticated business, involving a breathtaking variety of skills and knowledge. I’m in absolute awe of all of you who have accomplished this mission impossible and have done so not just well, but phenomenally well.  Please send us your story of how you became a sanctuary director. If you have any words of advice for anyone contemplating this career, add those too! Email your contributions to GFAS. Please include your name, title, and sanctuary name. Contributions will be published at Many thanks to Kari Bagnall, Founder and Executive Director of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, GFAS Accredited,  for kicking off this feature with her story. Like many stories that I love, it begins with a special animal…