November 2019 Newsletter

Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue is Awarded
2019 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence

The 2019 Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence has been awarded to Carole Baskin of GFAS-accredited 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.”

The sanctuary was founded in 1992 when Carole rescued a bobcat named Windsong. Big Cat Rescue is now home to over 60 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species most of whom have been abandoned, abused, orphaned, or retired from performing acts. Baskin shared her thoughts about the achievement, saying, “I believe GFAS plays a critical role in helping the public identify true sanctuaries versus those who mislead the public and helping sanctuaries be the best that they can be. I am thrilled and honored to be a recipient of this prestigious award named after someone I and everyone else in this field have admired and who set such high standards for both animal care and advocacy on behalf of captive animals.”

The Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence is given annually to a sanctuary or individual who embodies and puts into practice the GFAS philosophy of vision, dedication and excellence in animal care. It memorializes Carole Noon, founder of Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida, one of the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuaries. 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.

Wisconsin Horse Alliance Trainer’s Challenge

In October, 2019, the GFAS Equine Program was honored to be a sponsor of the second annual Midwest Rescue Horse Trainers Challenge, presented by the Wisconsin Horse Alliance.  The event featured 20 horses and 20 trainers whom had been working together on trail riding, in-hand work, and free style horsemanship techniques for approximately 90 days. The horses, trainers, and supporting rescues then came together for a one-day showcase of rescue horses consisting of classes in-hand, walk/trot/canter under saddle, trail, and freestyle.  The event was held at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.  GFAS was excited to sponsor the event and help raise awareness about equine adoption and the versatility and talent of rescued equines-and we’re happy to report that nearly all of the participating horses have already been adopted!

GFAS Position Statements

A core tenet of the work done by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries is to improve and advocate for the welfare of animals requiring sanctuary.  In order to work toward our mission and grow our advocacy programs, we have adopted several position statements, which can be found on the GFAS website.  These statements help clarify the intent of our GFAS Standards of Excellence, help guide our programs, and highlight the ethical principles of true sanctuaries.  In the coming months, additional position statements will be reviewed and posted.  Our Position Statements can be found here.

2019 Giving Day for Apes Was the Most Successful Yet!

This year’s Giving Day for Apes, held on October 15th, was the most successful ever! In this sixth year of Giving Day, and the first year in which GFAS was its sole presenter, 33 ape sanctuaries and rescue centers from across Africa, Asia, and North America participated to raise funds and win prizes. In addition to competing to reach the top of leaderboards, the participants also sought to win “Power Hour” prizes worth $2,500 each for the most dollars raised and most unique donors during designated hours, as well as “Golden Tickets” worth $150 that were randomly awarded throughout the 24-hour event.

On last year’s Giving Day, we exceeded our event goal by more than $50,000, and we hoped that we would reach that total again. We weren’t disappointed – nearly $650,000 was raised and awarded this year, exceeding last year’s total by almost $90,000!

Congratulations to all of the participating organizations for their successful fundraising campaigns, and we again thank our event sponsors Arcus Foundation and American Anti-Vivisection Society for making this Giving Day possible.

Giving Tuesday: Help Us to Help Sanctuaries Through GFAS Peer to Peer!

As we approach 2020, we are excited to announce yet another way in which GFAS will help sanctuaries to help animals: GFAS Peer to Peer.

As the only accrediting body for sanctuaries and rescue/rehabilitation centers on all continents and for nearly all species, GFAS is uniquely situated to bridge distances and build relationships throughout countries and across oceans. GFAS Peer to Peer will give these organizations a platform to seek advice from each other, share sample protocols and other documents, offer mentorship, and work collaboratively to foster best practices in animal care and facility management.

We are particularly excited about the opportunity to facilitate visits across countries – or across continents –  by sanctuary staff, GFAS staff, or other expert consultants. This may involve having personnel from one sanctuary visit another sanctuary for several days to help to set up a veterinary or other care program to improve the welfare of its animals. Our already verified and accredited sanctuaries may also seek to improve an area of care or facility safety. Those sanctuaries and rescue centers in the GFAS application process, or considering GFAS certification, will have an opportunity to host a visiting consultant to guide them through the application and assess their strengths and areas for potential improvement. We hope to make GFAS Peer to Peer available to any animal sanctuary or rescue center in any part of the world that meets minimum criteria as a true sanctuary and seeks support in improving animal care, management and sustainability.

This year on Giving Tuesday (December 3) we are asking for donations to support the growth of GFAS Peer-to-Peer. Our goal is to be able to facilitate and fund at least ten in-person visits in 2020, with at least half outside of the U.S. Donations can be made online at:

Any amount will help us to help animals in the coming year!

Featured Sanctuaries

Mexico’s Only GFAS Verified Equine Organization: Rancho Universo Cozumel Horse Sanctuary

The island of Cozumel off the coast of Mexico evokes images of white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and amazing snorkeling, but it is also home to GFAS Verified Rancho Universo Cozumel Horse Sanctuary.

Liliana Velasco-Ariza founded Rancho Universo AC (Heal a Horse Sanctuary) in 2001 to address the urgent need to help horses and donkeys on this beautiful island. Many people on the island believed that equines could only be trained through abuse and pain and sometimes when no longer of value to the owner, were left to die tied to a tree in the jungle. Liliana recognized that once these horses were rehabilitated, they could assist children on the island with disabilities. As Liliana states, “These rehabilitated animals have left their past behind and now provide an opportunity for adults and children to bond with them. Horses do not see our differences, deformities or our wheelchairs”.

The Rancho Cozumel Horse Sanctuary is the only GFAS Verified Sanctuary in Mexico and certified as a therapeutic riding facility by the AMET, the Mexican Association for Riding for the Disabilities.

GFAS is proud of the work Liliana and her volunteers do to help horses and humans in Cozumel.

Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation: Caring for Animals Great & Small in the Heart of Texas

GFAS is proud to announce long-standing member, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation earned re-accreditation in October. This deep-rooted organization was founded by Lynn Cuny in 1977 and has been dedicated to nursing injured native wildlife back to health and returning them to the wild ever since. The sanctuary and main rehabilitation facility are located in Kendalia where an average of 10,000 animals are cared for yearly. The sanctuary features large natural enclosures that house wildlife victimized by the pet trade, once held in roadside zoos or used in research. Black bears, mountain lions, primates, birds, reptiles, donkeys, mules, cows, goats and sheep are some of the animals residing peacefully in this sanctuary located in Texas hill country.

Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation also operates the Sherman Animal Care Complex, an animal intake and rehabilitation facility in San Antonio. The complex features an education center where the community can attend wildlife workshops and youth participate in the Young Friends of Wildlife Club. Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation prioritizes their message of compassion and respect for animals through excellent standards of animal care, staff training, public education, and advocacy.

Learn more about Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation here: