Although I know that many are eagerly awaiting the start of a new year, at GFAS we can’t help reflecting on and feeling proud and humbled by the incredible events of the past year. Together, with our certified sanctuaries, we’ve been busy moving forward best practices which ensure humane and responsible care for animals in need of true sanctuary. Through conducting over 70 site visits, adding 25 new certified sanctuaries in 2021, and recognizing the dedication and professionalism of true sanctuaries through events such as our GFAS Awards program, solid feelings of commitment, energy, and collective strength have emerged.
During this special time of year, I along with the Board and staff of GFAS, want to make sure you all know how much we appreciate you. The work of GFAS would not be possible without help from our trusted partners, donors, and collaborators. Most of all, we are immensely grateful for the work undertaken everyday by true sanctuaries on behalf of the animals, especially in this past year so full of change and challenges.
Thank you for being a part of our GFAS family. I hope your holiday season is full of health and happiness!
2021 – The Best Thing We Did This Year
In November 2021, Traci Hanson joined GFAS as staff in our Equine Program, working in the role of Program Director, alongside longtime GFAS staff member, Daryl Tropea. During Traci’s career, she has had the privilege of caring and advocating for a wide variety of animals including but not limited to horses, exotic cats, primates, native wildlife, and more. Traci has 20+ years of hands-on experience working with domestic and wild animals in rescue, rehabilitation and sanctuary settings. She has served in many different capacities including Volunteer, Animal Caregiver, Wildlife Veterinary Technician, Hospital Manager, Sanctuary Manager and Outreach Coordinator. She has worked for several GFAS Accredited organizations. Traci received her B.S. Biology from Baker University, and is based in Texas.
Donating to GFAS Certified Sanctuaries
As you are considering your year end donations to non-profit organizations, we hope that you consider donating to GFAS Certified organizations. If you visit the Find a Sanctuary page on our website, you can donate to GFAS groups. There are options to search by a number of different options and donate to one organization or as many as you like, you can also donate directly to GFAS.
Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary: All Together Now!
GFAS Accredited, Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary provides lifetime care to wildlife in need on 320 acres in the high desert of Imlay, Nevada. Currently, 46 animals reside peacefully at Safe Haven, including, big and small exotic and native cats, black bears, coyotes, foxes, tortoises and birds. Many of the sanctuary’s residents were rescued as orphans or bonded pairs and those bonds have been honored by allowing the animals to be housed together where they can benefit from the presence of their siblings or mates. Safe Haven is also adept at making introductions between animals that come in to the sanctuary as individuals and they are committed to providing the companionship animals often require for their emotional, and mental health.
Safe Haven’s latest pairing is the handsome lion, Tangassi and the lovely lioness, Rose. Earlier in his life, Tangassi, an 11-year-old African lion, was used for entertainment and later dumped at Wildlife Waystation in Los Angeles. Thankfully, when Wildlife Waystation was shut down, Safe Haven stepped up to offer him a permanent home. His first enclosure mate at Safe Haven, Mona, sadly passed away from cancer. Rose is a 3-year-old lioness, that was seized with other animals from the St-Edouard Zoo in Quebec where the owner was charged with animal cruelty and neglect. After the pandemic caused a lengthy delay, she finally arrived at Safe Haven in late 2020. Careful observation of the pair spending time with each other on either side of the shared wall of their habitats demonstrated that these lions wanted to be together and they were fully introduced by Lynda Sugasa and her team. Tangassi and Rose have been inseparable since their introduction.
True sanctuaries bring peace, autonomy and much more to animals that have suffered. Sanctuary provides so much, but companionship may be the greatest gift of all, because just like us, they need each other. GFAS proudly recognizes the respect that Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary and all of our Accredited and Verified groups demonstrate toward the individuals in their care. Thank you for giving them back to each other. To learn more please visit: A Home For Wildlife | Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary
New Facilities and New Opportunities at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre
Change is in the air at GFAS accredited Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi! Last month, the Centre opened its new veterinary clinic, the first part of a newly constructed animal care facility that will include a purpose-built lab, a warming room for small or intensive care patients, and a conference room. With more space and greater capacity, the new clinic will allow the Wildlife Centre to provide even better care for its animals as well as more training programs for veterinary students.
And while staff was still moving in, the new clinic received its first new patient: a pangolin that they named “Eve.” Pangolins are widely considered the most trafficked mammal in the world, with some species now endangered or critically endangered. Lilongwe Wildlife Centre has seen a steady increase in pangolin intakes, with over 20 received this year alone, and we are grateful that they can help confiscated pangolins like Eve, giving them a chance of rehabilitation and recovery.
The Wildlife Centre has also been busy with construction of new volunteer accommodations, which will be ready in early 2022 to greet those traveling to the Centre to volunteer for sanctuary, veterinary, and research work. With Malawi recently being named as a “Top 10 Country” on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel list for 2022, a volunteer placement at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre might be just what you are looking for if you are ready to start traveling again and want to help wildlife! Learn more at https://www.lilongwewildlife.org/volunteer-programmes/.
Thanksliving at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary
This holiday season the GFAS Farmed Animal Program had the pleasure of being invited to attend Thanksliving at Accredited Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, an event celebrating turkeys and the life-sustaining possibilities of a compassionate diet and lifestyle. The event had an amazing turnout, with so many kind people coming out to offer the birds a feast of their own (as Mongo presided over the table – see photo!) Staff was available to help visitors meet the animals and share their stories.
This opportunity to spend time and reconnect with the animals themselves, as well as the incredible people involved in the sanctuary community is just so necessary for us. These moments reconnect us, as GFAS staff, to why we do what we do. It gives us a necessary break from our desks to be among the beings we advocate for, to see their quirks, sweet and funny antics, and hear about their journeys.
Attending Thanksliving was as inspiring as it was grounding – a return to WHO we are here for. It evoked a strong sense of gratitude for being able to be part of this incredible sanctuary community. For getting to witness the incredible acts of compassion sanctuaries perform daily. For getting the chance to spend time with these individuals who have so much wisdom and love to impart. And for the incredible vegan meal served to attendees!
We send a big thank you to Indraloka Animal Sanctuary for their lifesaving work and for inviting us into this life-giving space. To learn more about Indraloka Animal Sanctuary and support their work, visit https://indraloka.org/
The Horse Shelter in New Mexico Marks 21 years of service in 2021
Finding the resilience to overcome the unexpected was the challenge faced by many equine rescue and sanctuary organizations in 2021. Lynn Komer, Marketing Chair for The Horse Shelter in New Mexico said they took their cue from their horses. Their horses taught them all, patience, adaptability, partnership, and leadership. The challenges faced this year brought Board members, volunteers, staff, and donors closer together to support the mission of The Horse Shelter and the welfare of these horses in need and at risk.
The Horse Shelter was founded in 2000 by Jan Bandler, a lifelong animal lover and horsewoman, who passed away prematurely in 2004 following a fast and furious battle with pancreatic cancer. However, her groundwork in establishing the organization, gaining 501(c)3 status originally in 2000 and purchasing the property for the shelter positioned them for future success. The Horse Shelter sits on 127 plus acres near the village of Cerrillos, New Mexico, which is 20 minutes south of Santa Fe. As needed, The Horse Shelter operations can be expanded up to 300 acres.
“The mission of The Horse Shelter is to serve as a sanctuary for New Mexico’s abandoned, abused and neglected horses. Rescued horses will be rehabilitated and adopted out whenever possible to environments that support their well-being and future long-term care.”
Today, this organization cares for over 70 horses, with a current maximum capacity of 80 equine residents. The priority is to provide a safe and healthy environment for all equines and to disseminate information on proper equine care for all horse owners. The Horse Shelter staff and volunteers are dedicated to best practices in nonprofit management and governance ensuring the success and sustainability of this wonderful organization for at least another 21 years. On December 16th, cowboy poet and musician, Russell Shaw will provide entertainment and old west stories raising awareness and donations for The Horse Shelter to continue their mission. For more information, please visit https://thehorseshelter.org/.
New Certifications and Renewals
Over the past month, GFAS has certified two new organizations, and renewed one GFAS organization! Congratulations to all these groups!