GFAS Newsletter – November 2021

Recipients of the 2021 Carole Noon and Outstanding Sanctuary Awards Announced

The Board of Directors of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) announced the recipient of the 2021 Carole Noon Award: Anna Bryant, of ARCAS Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Guatemala. The Carole Noon Award is named after the late Dr. Carole Noon, a courageous and innovative sanctuary pioneer and champion of chimpanzees.

The GFAS Board of Directors also presented the annual Outstanding Sanctuary Awards to recognize excellence in humane and responsible animal care; professionalism and ethics; organizational sustainability; public engagement; and contributions to, and leadership within, the sanctuary field. Recipients included Skydog Sanctuary, Oregon; Pasado’s Safe Haven, Washington; Animals Asia, China; and Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, Colombia.

These awards were presented during an inspiring and emotional virtual awards ceremony held on Friday, October 22. You can view the recording of the ceremony here. Please take a look and learn more about these amazing individuals and organizations!

GFAS Photo & Video Drive

What was the best thing you did this year? Your sanctuary we mean! During the months of November and December, GFAS is doing a digital drive for photo and video content from our certified groups. The theme is “The Best Thing We Did This Year”. This could be a rescue, an infrastructure addition, a team-building activity, an event, advocacy, anything goes! We will collect your materials and then feature them in the upcoming months on our social media, tagging your organization to promote you. Please include a short story or explanation to go with your content. Materials should be sent to Jess at by December 17. We can’t wait to see all the amazing things you’ve done.

Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance & International Fund for Animal Welfare bring you, TIGER QUEENS!  

A short video featuring women on the frontlines of the big cat crisis in America. These leaders are dedicated to the rescue and lifetime care of captive tigers, lions, and other wild felids in exploitative and inhumane situations. The “queens” include Tanya Smith and Emily McCormack of GFAS Accredited, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Bobbi Brink of GFAS Accredited, Lions Tigers and Bears, Lisa Stoner of Forest Animal Rescue, and Tammy Thies of GFAS Accredited, The Wildcat Sanctuary.

Tune in at the link below to hear the call for broad reform in the U.S., where both exploitative big cat displays and trade among private individuals are rampant. Keeping tigers, lions, and other exotic cats as “pets” fuels abusive trading and breeding practices while also creating serious public safety challenges. Demand for cubs to be used as photo props or for ‘pay-to-play’ sessions promotes speed-breeding and devastating, premature mother-cub separation, and causes enormous physical and psychological suffering to the animals involved. These big cats may be subjected to physical abuse to enforce compliant behavior and are often denied basic veterinary care, proper nutrition, and opportunities to engage in natural behaviors.

You can help! Watch the video and contact your congressional representatives and ask them to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This proposed legislation is endorsed by emergency responders and safety officials across the country, to put a stop to exploitative practices and protect the public from deadly encounters with wild cats.

To watch Tiger Queens, learn more about the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, or to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act, please click on the following link.



Rabbits Rejoice – RHDV2 Vaccine on the Horizon

Over the last year, it seems that humans are not the only ones struggling with a deadly virus. According to the USDA, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2

is a fatal disease in rabbits and is considered a foreign animal disease in the United States. This disease is caused by several virus strains. RHDV2 is highly contagious strain and, unlike other rabbit hemorrhagic disease viruses, it affects both domestic and wild rabbits, including jackrabbits and cottontails. Many times the only signs of the disease are sudden death and blood stained noses caused by internal bleeding. Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.

However, much like the COVID vaccine has dramatically reduced deaths in humans, rabbits may be about to get their big break. Verified Safe Haven Rabbit Rescue of NJ shared the news that Medgene Labs, a vaccine and immunological services provider based in Brookings, SD, has received emergency use authorization for their experimental Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) vaccine from the USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).

Their President, Karen Augustynowicz shares:

This will be exciting information for all the sanctuaries that have rabbits. The important point is that they all have to have their vets contact their respective state veterinarians as they are the ones who will have authorized use of the vaccine. The concern for both the domestic and wild rabbit populations is so devastating.  Numbers being reported like those recently in Cuba:  39 total RHD outbreaks since outbreak started on 13 June 2021 —2 new outbreaks in eastern Cuba=4 total + 35 total in western Cuba. Total susceptible rabbits: 62,627; total RHD2 cases: 23,491; total RHD2 deaths: 21,904; total rabbits depopulated: 40,813, are beyond scary. The news of a very promising vaccine being close at hand is sure to be welcoming news for all.

As of 10/6, “State animal health authorities have authorized use of Medgene’s recombinant RHDV2 vaccine for licensed veterinarians in these 20 states (as of 14:00PST 10/6/21, per Medgene representative):

Alabama, California, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Your veterinarian should contact Medgene Labs directly at 605-697-2600 or

For more information you can also visit https://medgenelabs.com/rhdv2-vaccine/or https://medgenelabs.com/rhdv2/

Celebrating Their 20th Anniversary – GFAS Accredited Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Second Chances program at Lowell Correctional Institution

Visit this link to learn about the TRF’s inspiring Second Chances Program now celebrating 20 years, at the Lowell Correctional Facility in Ocala, Florida. This video showcases the amazing bonds that have formed between these horses and the women who care for them.

Oct 21: TRF Lowell 20th Anniversary Horse Show. – Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (trfinc.org)

The women participating in this Second Chances program earn a vocational certificate for their horse care and husbandry education which helps them to obtain jobs once they leave the prison facility. The Second Chances program in Florida has now expanded to include education for juveniles. This is a “win-win” program where retired Thoroughbred racehorses get the excellent attention and care they need, and the women of the Second Chances program can learn new skills and improve their lives while helping horses.

As John Evans, the Program Director at Lowell has said, “About 60 percent of the women here have children on the outside and they miss them a lot. That’s tough on them. However, they take a lot of pride in caring for the animals and the whole place. When they leave here, they understand responsibility and what it means to work together.”

Lowell Correctional Farm is 100 acres and home to 50 horses. About 15 women work on the farm each day, a privilege they have earned through academic studies involving equine anatomy, safety, and care. Graduates of the academic program move on to ever increasing hands-on responsibilities of horse care.

For those of us immersed in the equine world, it is no surprise that the connection between humans and horses is healing.

For more information about the TRF Second Chances program at Lowell Correctional Facility, please visit Lowell Correctional Institution Ocala, Florida – Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (trfinc.org)

Farm Sanctuary Celebrates 35 years of Sanctuary

This month we shine a spotlight on Farm Sanctuary as they celebrate their 35th Anniversary! As the first farm sanctuary in the United States, Farm Sanctuary continues to lead and inspire the sanctuary movement. Caring for over 1000 animals between their two shelter locations while helping countless more through their Farm Animal Adoption Network and outreach activities, their impact on farmed animal welfare is unquestionable. They continue to model the power of true sanctuary. We are compelled to share these beautiful sentiments from Farm Sanctuary:

Sanctuary is a place, a mission, a way of life, a state of being.

It is a space of refuge and tranquility, where life is sacred and trauma is healed, where humans and other animals are free from harm and live in peace with dignity. In the physical world, as in our hearts, Sanctuary is a safe place where transformation can occur.

For 35 years, Farm Sanctuary has provided that place of peace for thousands of rescued farm animals. In turn, these animals are ambassadors, representing the billions more like them currently suffering in an unjust food system.

These survivors’ stories — which illustrate their sheer will to live, their sentience, their awe-inspiring resilience, and their unending ability to love and forgive — create deep connections and compassionate understanding in those who open their hearts to them and face the realities of their pain.

While we can’t rescue all the animals in animal agriculture, we know that Sanctuary can heal the animals who have been rescued, and fundamentally impact — often with lasting change — the people who hear these messages of hope, healing, compassion, and love.

For more inspiration, watch the 35th Anniversary Celebration here: https://youtu.be/RurqgMX7TUo

Thank you, Farm Sanctuary, for your vision and leadership in the sanctuary movement.

Primates Inc: A Peaceful Respite for Captive Primates

Set amongst rolling hills in Westfield, Wisconsin lies GFAS Accredited, Primates Incorporated. This young and growing sanctuary is on a mission to improve quality of life for monkeys retired from laboratories, pet ownership, and the entertainment industry. Amy Kerwin founded the organization in 2004 after working in a laboratory with rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kerwin always believed that laboratories had a responsibility to retire monkeys to enriching and spacious sanctuaries. The strategic plan for Primates, Incorporated was developed while Kerwin attended business school in 2005. Her top priority was visiting primate sanctuaries, conducting interviews with directors and learning about various animal care methods.

After years of planning and preparation, the sanctuary opened in 2018 and now has eleven monkeys in permanent residence. These retired laboratory monkeys and former pets enjoy spacious indoor enclosures connected by walkways to outdoor enclosures and geodomes! The monkeys can exercise choice of environments on a daily basis, as the domes provide an additional warm area to explore and play in during cold winters. The domes also function as greenhouses with containers that produce vegetation during cold months.

Kerwin’s ongoing outreach efforts are becoming more fruitful, as the calls are increasing from laboratories and people wanting to surrender their “pet” monkeys to sanctuary. Planning is already underway for the construction of additional facilities. GFAS is proud to recognize the extraordinary efforts of the small and mighty, Primates, Inc! Learn more at this link.

New Certifications and Renewals

Over the past month, GFAS has certified two new organizations, and renewed six GFAS organizations! Congratulations to all these groups!

New Certifications
Dorset Equine Rescue, Vermont
Wings Programs, Montana

Renewals
Centro de Rescate Las Pumas, Costa Rica
Project Chimps, Georgia
Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center, Costa Rica
Rosemary Farm Sanctuary, New York
Saving Horses, California
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, New York