Animal sanctuaries are facilities where animals can live in a safe and protected environment, free of the threat of the outside world. Here, the animals can live the rest of their lives in freedom and safety.
Sanctuaries are different from animal shelters. Shelters provide temporary home and care for lost, mistreated or sick animals, generally pets and domestic animals, until a good home is found for them. The main objective of shelters is to place the animals in their care, with good and caring owners.
Animal sanctuaries, on the other hand offer a permanent home to the animals. Mainly, these are wildlife sanctuaries where the animals live in a large, enclosed, protected environment, which is a close simulation of their natural habitat. There are no cages; the resident animals are allowed to move about freely and behave as naturally as possible. The animals are not bought, sold or traded nor are they given out for any kind of scientific experiments or testing. The main objective of the wild animal sanctuaries is to provide a safe haven for the animals and provide them the best possible care. The wild life sanctuaries also aim to protect and preserve rare and endangered species of wild animals like tigers.
A sanctuary is also different from a zoo in the sense that it is not open to the public. The general public is not given free access to any part of the wild animal sanctuary without escort. This ensures that the animals are not put in any stressful circumstances and minimises physical threat and outside disturbance as well. There are also no cages as is essential in zoos.
In a sanctuary, the animals are given top priority; the caretakers are directed to give equal importance to animals and humans. Care is taken to see that there is no human benefit at the expense of the non-human residents.
A farm sanctuary, on the other hand, provides refuge to domestic and farm animals. Their mission is to provide a loving home for abused and discarded farm animals. The rescued horses, pigs, goats and dogs are lovingly cared for in these facilities. The farm sanctuaries are also dedicated to rescue animals from the stockyards, factories and slaughter houses and provide them a safe and caring environment to live in.
Other than caring and protecting for the animals, the animal sanctuaries have another very important mission. They try to change the callous way humans tend to treat non-human lives. In different ways, various animal sanctuaries aim to educate the general public regarding cruelty towards animals, slaughter of animals for food, caring for farm animals and pets and outright killing of wild animals for their fur, teeth or hide.
It is a sad truth that every year over fifty billion animals are slaughtered by humans worldwide in the name of food, consumer goods, experiments, sport, and spiritual practices or because of simple cruelty. The wild life sanctuaries showcase the human effort, the love and compassion that go into preserving and nurturing the animals instead of being callously indifferent to their plight.