November 2020

Recipients of the 2020 Carole Noon and Outstanding Sanctuary Awards Announced

GFAS was so excited to receive several hundred inspiring submissions honoring individuals and sanctuaries, rescues, rehabilitation, and transition centers from across the world, for the 2020 Carole Noon and Outstanding Sanctuary Awards.   The GFAS Board of Directors and Award Committee Members were moved by the dedication, innovation, and excellence in animal care read about in the submissions! 

The awards were presented during a special virtual award ceremony on October 23, 2020.  If you missed that event, you can read all about the award recipients here.  You can also view a recording of the virtual awards ceremony here.

Thank you to all who participated in the 2020 Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries award process.  

Capacity For Good 

A Roundtable Discussion with Laurie Jackson (Executive Director, Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary) & Nancy Turner (Founder, This Old Horse)
By Jessica Harris, MS

For Nancy Turner and Laurie Jackson, sanctuary is a state of mind. Not just a physical place, but a community of support. A trust in the goodness and potential of all animals – including humans. Each of them run powerhouse GFAS Accredited equine and farm rescue groups that have grown not only their care capacity, but their philosophy around how to best serve animals. Their openness to new sanctuary and rescue models was as striking as their humility and willingness to learn. Despite their diverse histories and intake structure, the creativity and flexibility in their approach has allowed them to maximize the impact of their programming for homeless animals. Read on for lively conversation and revolutionary thinking on capacity building for everything from horses to pot-bellied pigs. Read the full discussion here.

The Grand Tour
New research emerges on how to maximize the impact of your farm sanctuary tours

Photo by Ben Mater on Unsplash

The power of sanctuary has been proven once again in the latest surveys from Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and Farm Sanctuary. In the farmed sanctuary space we often repeat that “we cannot rescue our way out of this” – that is, the number of farmed animals suffering in the agricultural industry is so staggering that there would never be sufficient capacity to rescue them all. This is why education and advocacy is so crucial to getting to the root of the issues facing these animals. The findings from both Woodstock and Farm Sanctuary suggest that guided tours which foster connection with individual animals, link that animal’s story to a larger issue, and give supportive suggestions for incremental change are highly effective at changing visitor behavior and consumption patterns.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has a whopping 93% rate of dietary change reported by their visitors, 37% of which go totally vegetarian or vegan. In their mid-year report they describe their strategy:

One person who visited said to us, “After meeting Colin and Woody I knew it wasn’t worth it to continue eating dairy. The cost to them and others like them is too high. Thanks, Woodstock, for helping me realize this change!” We have thousands of these quotes. People are moved by the individual animal’s experience and make lifestyle changes that help animals everywhere.

We connect people to individual animals and tell their stories. On our tours, we focus on speaking to an individual animal’s experience, inspiring our guests to see that resident as an individual. When we tell animal stories, we also talk about industry wide practices.

Similarly, a joint study recently published by Faunalytics and Farm Sanctuary states:

Results from the on-site surveys, the follow-up surveys, and the qualitative interviews tell a consistent story: Sanctuary tours can be highly satisfying experiences for most people, and can lead to important changes in attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. Participant feedback suggested that the key elements were one-on-one contact with the animals, educational videos and information on animal cruelty, and balanced messaging on plant-based lifestyles. All of these factors appeared to shape their beliefs and diets in order to help animals. 

Although most sanctuaries have had to pivot from in-person to virtual tours this year, the opportunities for connection are still there and these lessons more necessary than ever. We applaud both sanctuaries, as well as Faunalytics, for their incredible work in really making the animals’ stories count.

To read the full report from Faunalytics & Farm Sanctuary, click here.

Animal Sanctuary Appreciation Day

On Friday, November 6th, GFAS celebrated the second annual Animal Sanctuary Appreciation Day. This day, established last year by GFAS in partnership with our colleagues at the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance and North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, recognizes the critical work of true sanctuaries. In the days leading to the event, GFAS shared important information on social media about what defines a “true sanctuary,” including no commercial trade of animals, no invasive research, and no direct contact between wildlife and the visiting public. We are so thankful to all of our member sanctuaries, rescue, rehabilitation and transit centers for the continued dedication to the animals in their care!

The Elephant Sanctuary: Trumpeting to 25 years!

Debbie and Ronnie, photo credit: The Elephant Sanctuary

We would like to extend our congratulations to GFAS Accredited, The Elephant Sanctuary (TES) as they celebrate their 25th anniversary! Thank you for your long-standing commitment to elephants in need.

TES provides captive elephants with excellent individualized care, elephant companions, and the opportunity to live out their lives on their terms. The Sanctuary is home to 11 elephants retired from zoos and circuses, many of whom suffer long-term health and behavioral issues. TES has a team of veterinarians and caregivers who provide expert care by using positive reinforcement and protected contact to safely serve the needs of each elephant.

In addition to outstanding animal care, community outreach and partnership building are core values for TES. Earlier this year, the Sanctuary donated surplus fruits and vegetables to their local food bank and also partnered with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on a conservation study on Sanctuary grounds to better understand some of Tennessee’s most rare native species. The Sanctuary is not open to visitors, but their community outreach center in the town of Hohenwald, helps to educate the public of the complex needs of captive elephants and the crisis facing elephants in the wild.

Take a look for yourself! Anyone can go online and observe the elephants traversing their vast habitats through the Elecam:

Healing Humans and Horses at North Shore Horse Rescue

Three years in the making, this wonderful documentary highlights the great work that North Shore Horse Rescue provides and the power of the horse and human bond to heal.

North Shore Horse Rescue (NSHR) in Baiting Hollow on Eastern Long Island, New York, started out as a small boarding facility in 2002. They became Verified by GFAS in 2013. They provide both adoption services and lifelong sanctuary for as many as 20 equines at capacity. Their resident equines come in all sizes and breeds including miniature draft horses, Thoroughbreds, Quarter horses and a Mustang mare. During these months dealing with the pandemic, North Shore Horse Rescue have found creative ways to continue fundraising. Drive-thru Farm Tours on the weekends provide a safe outing for families and this year included a Halloween Dracula Drive-thru event. 

For more information please visit:

GFAS Policy on Organizational Updates

A friendly reminder for our currently Accredited and Verified groups, to keep us, at GFAS, up to date with any major changes which occur at your sanctuary organization.  Although GFAS status is for three years, we are delighted to hear from our certified groups at any time!

Click here to find the GFAS policy on organizational updates.  Thanks so much for your review and assistance.

GFAS Certifications and Renewals

Over the past month, we have certified four new organizations, re-certified three organizations and one organization transitioned from Verified to Accredited. Congratulations to all these groups!

New Certifications

Holy Spirit Farm and Horse Sanctuary, Pennsylvania
Star Gazing Farm Animal Sanctuary, Maryland
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Second Chances Program at the Lowell Correctional Institution, Florida
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Second Chances Program at Eastham Sanctuary Farm, Virginia

Transitioned from Verified to Accredited

Begin Again Horse Rescue, New York


Beech Brook Farm Equine Rescue, Connecticut
Godspeed Horse Hostel, New York
Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary, Hawaii

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