Carole Noon and Outstanding Sanctuary Awards

The GFAS Carole Noon Award is given annually to an individual who embodies and puts into practice the GFAS philosophy of vision, dedication, and excellence in animal care at sanctuaries.

The award was created in 2009 to honor outstanding contributions to the animal sanctuary field to memorializes Carole Noon, Ph.D., a courageous and innovative sanctuary pioneer and champion of chimpanzees.


The GFAS Award Committee reviews all nominations and makes a recommendation, which includes past recipients or representatives of past recipients and members of the GFAS Board of Directors. The full GFAS Board of Directors then makes the final selection.

The award recipient is honored at a ceremony, receives an engraved plaque, offered an award for their organization, and is offered membership to the Award Committee.

GFAS is delighted to be broadening our awards program for recognition of excellence in the sanctuary world.

Do you know of a sanctuary, rescue, transition, or rehabilitation center which constantly strives to improve animal care for at-risk and displaced wildlife, exotic animals, equines or farmed animals, in or outside the U.S.?  Do you admire a particular sanctuary for the dedication and professionalism displayed by their Board, staff, and volunteers?  Now is the time to submit an award nomination to recognize these special organizations and the animals they care for!

In 2020, the GFAS Award Committee and Board of Directors will present the First Annual Outstanding Sanctuary Awards. 

GFAS Accredited/Verified organizations of varying missions are eligible, including sanctuaries which provide lifetime care for animals; transition and rescue centers which temporarily care for animals with a goal of placing them in adoptive homes; and rehabilitation centers which temporarily care for wildlife so that they can be returned back to their native environments. Recipients will be honored in four categories:

  • Outstanding Equine Sanctuary of 2020
  • Outstanding Farmed Animal Sanctuary of 2020
  • Outstanding Wildlife Sanctuary of 2020
  • Outstanding International Sanctuary of 2020


Timeline for 2020:

  • Nominations for all awards open on August 15, 2020.
  • Deadline for submissions is Thursday, September 3, 2020.
  • October 1 – 15, 2020 – Awards presented

The GFAS Award Committee reviews all nominations and makes a recommendation. The GFAS Board of Directors then makes the final selection.  The award recipients are honored publicly, receive an engraved plaque, and are offered an honorarium for the sanctuary affiliated with the recipient.

The awards nomination form for the Equine, Farmed Animal, Wildlife, and International Outstanding Sanctuary Awards will include that the evaluation is based on criteria as follows:

Evaluation Criteria – nomination should describe excellence in:

  • Humane and responsible animal care
  • Professionalism and ethics
  • Organizational sustainability
  • Public engagement
  • Contributions to, and leadership within, the sanctuary field

General Requirements:

  • The nominee can self-nominate.
  • Nominated organizations must be current GFAS Accredited/Verified members in good standing.
  • Equine, Wildlife, and Farmed Animal nominee organizations may be based in any geographical location; International nominee organizations should be located outside of the United States.
  • Organizations/Individuals may only win in one category per year
  • The nominated organization is ineligible if they have won a Sanctuary of Merit Award in their respective category in the last five years.

Nominations are normally accepted during the summer each year. Please watch this page for our next nomination cycle.

Previous Award Winners

Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue

Carole was singled out for her visionary leadership and advocacy efforts to end the private possession and trade in exotic cats through legislation and education. “Carole is a stand out as a role model and mentor,” says Valerie Taylor, GFAS executive director. “She prioritizes the welfare of the animals in her care and generously shares her knowledge with others. Carole is also passionate about creating exciting new ways to educate the public, and inspires everyone to use their voice to end the captive trade in big cats.”

Patti Ragan, Center for Great Apes

Patti is dedicated to the health and welfare of chimpanzees and orangutans who unwillingly served the entertainment and biomedical research industries. At the Center for Great Apes, the only accredited sanctuary for orangutans in North America, apes who were former “pets” and performing animals are cared for with compassion and provided for their specialized needs.



Dr. Karmele Sanchez, Yayasan International Animal Rescue

Dr. Sanchez is a veterinarian and oversees YIARI’s orangutan center on Borneo and the Primate Rehabilitation Center in Ciapus near Bogor in West Java. The Yayasan International Animal Rescue Indonesia not only works to protect orangutans, but also rescue, rehabilitate and release slow lorises, macaques and other imperiled species.


Past Award Recipients

2017 – Dennis Janik, Rescate Animal

Dennis Janik of GFAS-accredited Rescate Animal, an animal rescue center in Costa Rica, was singled out for his innovation and leadership in supporting the welfare of native wildlife as a caregiver, conservationist and advocate.

2016 – Amanda Lollar, Bat World Sanctuary

Amanda Lollar of GFAS-Accredited Bat World Sanctuary is the eighth recipient of the Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence given annually by Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Amanda was singled out for her leadership in supporting the welfare of bats as a caregiver, educator, and advocate.

2015 – Bobbi Brink of Lions Tigers and Bears, CA, USA

Bobbi Brink of Lions Tigers and Bears (LTB) was singled out for her widespread work dedicated to supporting the welfare of displaced exotic big cats and bears and advocating for change to protect captive exotic animals in the future.

2014 – Jorg Huckabee-Mayfield, White Bird Appaloosa Horse Rescue, VA, USA

Her work on the Sparky Project this year exemplified the true spirit of this award. She has been an ongoing inspiration in the horse rescue community but went above and beyond to help support the placement of a herd of 40 neglected, unhandled horses.

2013 – Pat Derby, PAWS, CA, USA

Pat Derby was a strong advocate for sanctuary standards and helped to found The Association of Sanctuaries (TAOS), which was a predecessor to GFAS, building on what Pat helped to create. Ms. Derby battled the use of wild animals in the entertainment industry and exposed the cruelties inherent in the use of captive wildlife in Las Vegas acts, circuses, and roadside zoos. And while she worked tirelessly to end the cruel exploitation of performing wild animal acts, she is perhaps best known for her work rescuing and providing lifetime care for wild animals in the sanctuaries she helped start in California. While she was a guardian of numerous species including bears and big cats, her greatest love was elephants, for whom she cared with the love of a parent. She and her life partner, Ed Stewart, who accepted the award on behalf of Ms. Derby and PAWS, created the nation’s first sanctuary for elephants. “Pat’s legacy is one of compassion, vision, and dedication and she is an example for all sanctuary directors and employees to follow,” stated Mike Markarian, GFAS Vice President.

2012 – The Donkey Sanctuary, United Kingdom

The award for The Donkey Sanctuary was accepted by David Cook, chief executive of The Donkey Sanctuary, in recognition of the high standards of care the organization achieves in its work providing sanctuary to abandoned and mistreated donkeys and its projects improving the welfare of working donkeys in 28 countries worldwide. David Cook stated: “We have been working since 1969 to improve conditions for donkeys and mules and it is wonderful that GFAS has recognized our achievements and the hard work of our staff in improving the welfare of working animals. Thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters we are able to make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of donkeys and the families that rely on them.”

2011 – Stany Nyandwi, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Uganda

Stany Nyandwi has always demonstrated remarkable courage and dedication. When he first began work, he bicycled 4-6 hours to and from work each day. The trip was dangerous during tribal conflicts, and two co-workers were killed. At tremendous risk to his own life, he smuggled chimps to safety in Kenya. For four years, keeping the chimps safe, he could not communicate with his family and did not even know if they were still alive. Stany has demonstrated insightful vision, pioneering ways of integrating new chimps into one large, cohesive group on 95 acres.

2010 – Jill Robinson, Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue Centres, China Vietnam

Ms. Robinson took on the overwhelming challenge of ending the barbaric practice of bear bile farming in China and in Vietnam 18 years ago,” states Kati Loeffler, DVM, Ph.D., who nominated Jill Robinson. “Her courage, vision, tireless efforts, devotion to each animal, unflagging commitment, and insistence on the highest standards for the lifelong care of the animals stand as monuments to every animal sanctuary in the world.”

2009 – Carole Noon, Save the Chimps, FL, USA

The first award, given in 2009, was awarded posthumously to Dr. Carole Noon. Carole Noon, PhD, exemplified the GFAS philosophy with an innovative spirit, creating solutions to overwhelming challenges; a deep knowledge of those entrusted to the care of the sanctuary; and a dedication to animals and a determination to succeed that manifested in a commitment to ensure humane and responsible care for the lifetime of each of the sanctuary residents.