As for educational value, the only substantive thing a polar bear in captivity teaches kids is that it’s okay to ruin an animal’s life for our viewing pleasure. - John Youngman
Visit Sanctuaries, Not Zoos
In our society there is a huge disconnect between our love
for animals and our actions towards animals. This is especially true in the area of entertainment. We love animals so much that we want to see them and be around them (it makes us feel good) even if it means that we can only see them behind bars, fences and glass. So we visit places like zoos and animal theme parks where animals are confined for our viewing pleasure. I used to love visiting zoos, but then it hit me one day that my reasoning was based on my own desire to see “cute” and “beautiful” animals. I never thought about it from their perspective (that’s often why animal abuse continues). I didn’t think about the conditions (small spaces, artificial lighting, artificial habitat, etc.) that the animals who I was gawking at were forced to live in every day, or
the things they were denied (raising a family, freedom to come and go, etc.). So I did what I knew was right and I made the decision to no longer visit zoos. I’m so glad I was able to see through the fog, and do what was in the best interest of the animals that I claimed to love so much. I will never take my family to a zoo or other animal park (such as SeaWorld) where animals live stressed-out, unnatural lives, in small artificial enclosures (nothing like they’d experience in the wild) and are denied the fulfillment of every natural instinct and everything that is important to them.
Instead of visiting one of these sad animal prisons, take your kids to an animal sanctuary where animals live in peace away from loud crowds and peering eyes. However, because the animals are there to be looked after, not looked at, most sanctuaries have special visiting hours and tours, so call ahead. Most of the animals living in sanctuaries have been rescued from horrible situations (many were left to die, or escaped) where they’ve endured the worst neglect and abuse imaginable,so your visit will give them the love and attention they deserve. Some of the sanctuaries have accommodations right on the property so take advantage of that and plan your next family vacation at one of these amazing places!
NOTE: Make sure that you only visit and support real animal sanctuaries, not roadside zoos, petting zoos, or other parks posing as sanctuaries.
Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, NY
Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, NY (read Kathy Steven's exclusive guest post)
Animal Acres in Acton, CA
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT
The Kindness Ranch in Hartville, WY
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, MD
Pigs Peace Sanctuary in Stanwood, WA
For more sanctuaries, click here.
Sanctuaries with Accommodations:
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in UT- sleep in cabins or cottages, or camp on the desert sanctuary grounds. Meet special dogs and cats who've been given a second chance at life. Volunteer opportunities available.
Farm Sanctuary in NY- wake up to the sound of crowing roosters in one of the cozy B & B's overlooking the scenic pastures. Meet abused and neglected farm animals.
Kindness Ranch in WY- stay in a beautiful yurt-style cabin on a sprawling ranch. Meet animals who were used in cruel laboratory experiments.
Catskill Animal Sanctuary in NY- stay in the recently renovated Homestead: pre-revolutionary War farm house and enjoy a vegan breakfast. Excellent location nearby downtown historic Woodstock where you can shop in the many boutiques, and dine in your choice of veg restaurants. (Read founder, Kathy Steven's exclusive blog post on this site!)
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in NY- stay in an eco-house. Rent out a room, or the whole house. Excellent location just minutes from downtown Woodstock where you can shop in the many boutiques, and dine in your choice of veg restaurants.