February 2023

Feel The Love Challenge

This month, we asked sanctuaries to submit residents’ love stories: our inboxes have never been sweeter! It’s clear that love abounds in sanctuary, and that strong, sometimes inter-species relationships are forged out of past trauma. This is perhaps one of the greatest healing forces true sanctuaries can offer: love and companionship to those they rescue. Below are a few of these LOVE-ly pairs.

Officer Jim & Oreo (Accredited Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, OH)

Our love story focuses on a potbelly pig and one of the people who was absolutely instrumental in helping bring her to her new beginning:

Officer Jim Conroy of Campbell City, Ohio, PD is a community leader, a law enforcement pro, a friend. Jim is sworn to serve the public and he does so with skill. And oftentimes, he comes across animals in need such as sweet potbelly pig Oreo. Oreo might seem reserved but she is in love. 💓 🐽 Officer Jim is her hero, having led the efforts to rescue her from a dark basement and leading her to the light of day and the love of humans.

Derek & Barack (Accredited Animals Asia, Chengdu Bear Rescue Centre)

I wanted to share a friendship story from Animals Asia’s Chengdu Bear Rescue Centre. It’s between two gorgeous older males, both declawed and missing most of their teeth (which is a result of their previous lives on a breeding and bile extraction farm in China). Derek is also blind. They are the cutest couple, even to this day!

Maury & Piper (Accredited New Freedom Farm, VA)

Maury and Piper were both rescued from a bad situation, They are a bonded pair and don’t like to be separated. They now have a great home here at New Freedom Farm in Buchanan, VA .

If you’re feeling the love, make sure to follow GFAS on Facebook and Instagram @gfassanctuary for even more sanctuary love stories.



Turkey-Syria Earthquake

Our hearts go out to those impacted by the recent Turkey-Syria earthquake.  As a global animal protection organization, we keep a close eye on those impacts felt by animals, especially. GFAS is aware of several local animal rescue organizations working to save animals devastated by the earthquake.  In addition, GFAS is grateful for the work of our partners in time of disasters, such as IFAW, who has rushed emergency support to local organizations in Turkey and Syria to help the many animals impacted by this catastrophic earthquake.

If you are able to contribute to aid efforts or share this vital information visit:

The House of Cats Ernesto – sanctuary home to more than 800 cats, 25 dogs, vervet monkeys, horses, donkeys, wild birds, and domestic farm animals.

Haytap Animal Rights Federation

Please also consider supporting our friends at IFAW who are providing emergency relief in Turkey and Syria.


Announcing Our Updated GFAS Website

We are so excited to announce that we launched our updated website last week! The website has an updated, easier to read look, as well as a more improved layout. You can find information on certification with GFAS, our latest news, GFAS position statements and much more.  We also have a section on our website called Sanctuary Resources, specifically for GFAS certified organizations. If your organization is certified by GFAS, please keep an eye on your inbox as we will be sending out an email in the next couple weeks with more information regarding how to get set up with an account to access this portion of the website.  We’d love for all of you to take a look at the new site when you have a chance.



GFAS would like to commend our partner, North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA) and its Program Director, Erika Fleury, on the successful completion of the Chimpanzees in Need campaign. NAPSA was founded in 2010 by leaders at the top chimpanzee sanctuaries in North America with the mission of uniting the primate sanctuary community, building sanctuary capacity and advocating to end primate exploitation.

When unaccredited refuge, Wildlife Waystation, in Sylmar, California shut down in 2019, there were nearly 500 animals onsite including more than 40 chimpanzees. While, California Department of Fish and Wildlife worked to rehome the majority of the animals, it was clear finding appropriate homes for the chimpanzees would be a significant challenge. NAPSA stepped in to lead the effort and developed the Chimpanzees in Need campaign. Between 2019 and 2022, over $4M was raised to help build enclosures and rehome all the chimpanzees to GFAS Accredited facilities, where they will live out the remainder of their days receiving individual, and specialized care from dedicated professionals.

To be sure, this was a Herculean effort and GFAS is so proud of Erika, and the GFAS Accredited, NAPSA members that played a major role in this wonderful outcome.

To learn more about this extraordinary effort, watch this 7-minute documentary film featuring award-winning actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara. To help fund the chimpanzees’ first year in sanctuary please donate here.


GFAS Joins the Asia for Animals Board of Directors

Last year, GFAS became a core member of the Asia for Animals Coalition, a network of animal welfare organizations with a shared vision and goal of improving the welfare of animals in Asia. Our collaborations with other members over the course of the year have included participation in AfA working groups, such as the Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC), and joining others in support of campaign letters seeking animal protection and relief from animal cruelty.

This year, we have been invited to join the AfA Board of Directors for a three-year term, and we were delighted to accept. Our Program Director for Africa and Asia, Jackie Bennett, will be GFAS’ representative to the Board, and we look forward to working together to guide the growth of this organization and the success of its working groups and programs. AfA is already making change to help animals in Asia and throughout the world, and it has ambitious goals for the next year to raise awareness, build capacity of animal welfare organizations, and continue to make change in the lives of animals.

Learn more about the Asia for Animals Coalition by visiting its website.

 South African Donkey Sanctuary Earns GFAS Verification

 Driven by their passion to make a difference in the world of equine welfare in South Africa, the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary (KDS) transforms itself into a bona fide equine sanctuary and becomes Africa’s first equine sanctuary to be certified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

KDS is doing remarkable rescue and rehabilitation work at their sanctuary in South Africa, but they are also making a huge impact in the trenches of donkey rescue elsewhere in Africa. They have succeeded in exposing the gruesome donkey skins trade to China, in ensuring the closure of Africa’s largest donkey slaughterhouse, and in helping the government to impose a ban on the trade in Tanzania, one if the former donkey skins trade hubs.

Not only is KDS a forever home for donkeys and horses, but the sanctuary is also home to twelve other species of rescued farm animals including cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, peacocks, turkeys and geese. The sanctuary also has a small wildlife protection division that cares for seven ostriches and a zebra.

We are very excited to welcome the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary into the GFAS family. 

To learn more about the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary, check out their website at: https://karoodonkey.org/.

Global Sanctuary for Elephants Growing Strong in Brazil!

GFAS Accredited, Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE) continues to light the way forward in captive elephant care in South America. GSE’s pilot sanctuary, Elephant Sanctuary Brazil, is located in Chapada dos Guimaraes, on 2,800 lush acres filled with grasses, fruit trees, ponds and streams. The climate and landscape are ideal for elephants, and currently six rescued female Asian elephants reside there in true sanctuary, Lady, Rana, Maia, Mara, Bambi and Guillermina.

South America is undergoing a major cultural shift in how people view captive animals. Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru have banned performing animals and Brazil is on track to follow. Across the continent, zoos are re-considering their role and making plans to send their elephants to sanctuary. GSE founders, Scott and Kat Blais, chose Brazil as the location for their first sanctuary to ensure the growing number of elephants displaced by circus bans and closing zoos would be guaranteed the care they need in an appropriate habitat.

A major expansion project to welcome the first female African elephant to the sanctuary is now complete. Kenya, a captive elephant currently at Ecoparque Mendoza in Argentina, is set to be the first resident with others to follow. In the future, male Asian elephants will also be rescue candidates as a brand new habitat is under construction just for them and their unique needs.

To hear about the genesis of Global Sanctuary for Elephants from the founders themselves, tune into the recent “Our Hen House” Podcast. And keep up with all the latest developments at the sanctuary with GSE’s new podcast, Global Rumblings.

Learn more about GSE and Elephant Sanctuary Brazil here: www.globalelephants.org


Farm Highlight: Verified Barn Sanctuary MI

Most of us spent our childhood reading a number of stories about farm animals – but they were not always portrayed in a light that honored their intelligence, emotional life, or individualism – much less their inherent right not to be exploited. A recent study showed that children are inherently less speciesist than adults, and that “the common view that humans are far more morally important than animals appears late in development and is likely socially acquired.” Encouraging that innate empathy through children’s stories is a fantastic way to encourage a more compassionate future for animals.

Several recent children’s books are providing a compassionate alternative to classic children’s stories, where sanctuary residents feature prominently – including “This Farm is a Family” by Barn Sanctuary founder Dan McKernan. For a sneak peek at the book and ordering information, visit https://barnsanctuary.myshopify.com/products/this-farm-is-a-family-children-books.Other titles include: 

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter, and Caprice Crane

We Don’t Eat Animals by Devin Gregory

Sanctuary: a Home for Rescued Farm Animals by Julia Denos

New Certifications and Renewals

Over the past month, GFAS has certified one group and renewed two GFAS organizations!

Congratulations to all these groups!

New Certifications

Karoo Donkey Sanctuary, South Africa


All About Equine Animal Rescue, California
Bear Valley Rescue, Alberta, Canada


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