September 2023

Giving Day for Apes – Join the Celebration Now Through October 3rd!

Giving Day for Apes began in 2014 as a capacity building project for African ape sanctuaries. Over the years, it has grown to raise and award more than $5 million as it continues to bring together ape sanctuaries and rescue centers on three continents to raise funds and raise awareness about the threats to these endangered species. Each of the apes in these sanctuaries’ care – some victims of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, some rescued from lives of exploitation for entertainment and profit, some finding sanctuary after years in research laboratories – has a story to tell.

On October 3rd, more than 30 ape sanctuaries and rescue centers in Africa, Asia, and North America will tell their stories as GFAS presents the 10th annual Giving Day for Apes. We are so excited to give these sanctuaries a platform to tell the public about their work and gain new support. And, as we celebrate 10 years of giving, we will be awarding over $64,000 in prizes throughout the event, made possible by the generosity of our sponsors.

Early Giving has already started – now through October 3rd you can donate to one or more sanctuaries and each donation may help a sanctuary to win a prize. Your donation could help a gibbon in Malaysia, an orangutan in Indonesia, a chimpanzee in North America, a gorilla in Cameroon, and many, many more.

Let’s make this the best Giving Day yet for the apes! Visit to learn more and share your support.

Goat Games 2023 raises $109,000 for farmed animal sanctuaries

GFAS sends a big congratulations to all the sanctuary teams who participated in the Goat Games this year! We watched as many organizations pushed hard and met their fundraising goals, covering everything from hay to medical costs for their residents. Bunnies and goats alike stole our hearts as they led their teams to victory! Thank you to all the participants and to Catskill Animal Sanctuary for organizing this one-of-a-kind event.

Register Now for Our September 22nd Webinar: “Enrichment for All”

Environmental enrichment has been widely documented for promoting captive animal welfare, yet often it is considered an ‘add on’ or expensive ‘extra’ for already stretched wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centers. In this webinar, you will hear from Nicola Field, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Global Animal Welfare, as she explains how environmental enrichment does not need to be expensive or complicated for human care givers. Her presentation will include strategies for multi-species centers, and those that care for both releasable and nonreleasable animals – you won’t want to miss it!

Register today at this link:


SAVE THE DATE: How Do Sanctuaries Create Change? What We Have Learned

Earlier this year, GFAS embarked on a study of how sanctuaries engage with the public to make change for animals. Following a survey to our verified and accredited sanctuaries, we then turned our attention to the public, sharing another survey that received nearly 350 responses worldwide.

We are now ready to present what we learned. Save the date for a webinar at 2 pm EDT on Thursday, October 26 as Program Director Jackie Bennett reviews how sanctuaries define change, the challenges they face, and the many ways that the public has been empowered and inspired by engagement with sanctuaries. We will also have guest speakers from several of our sanctuaries. Check our social media soon for a link to register!


Round Table Recap: Bringing Sanctuaries Together

Last month, GFAS brought our accredited and verified sanctuaries together for another virtual Round Table discussion. These sessions, offered several times throughout the year, are an informal, “off the record” opportunity for sanctuaries to network and exchange ideas on a designated topic. Our topic for the August session was “Dealing with Loss”. Our attendees across several countries shared their experiences with grief and coping with the loss of an animal, whether it be one who was loved and under their care for years, or one just rescued but for whom there was no chance of survival. We are grateful for their openness and the opportunity to learn from them.

We’ll be planning another Round Table to take place this fall and look forward to joining another great discussion!

Asia for Animals Conference

We hope to see many of you in a few weeks at the Asia for Animals conference in beautiful Sarawak, Malaysia! This year’s conference theme is “Education and Engagement Bring Change” and GFAS is among the many presenters from around the world who will be sharing their experience. It’s not too late to get your ticket – go to this link to register, view the conference program, and get more information:


Spotlight on Accreditation Impact and Growth: GFAS Farmed Animal Program

In 2014, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) Farmed Animal Program began with one Accredited sanctuary facility; over the proceeding years, demand for certification has increased greatly.  Over the past eight years, the number of GFAS accredited farmed animal sanctuary facilities has grown exponentially; GFAS currently supports 34 Accredited and Verified sanctuaries caring for farmed animals. In addition, approximately 20 new farmed animal sanctuary applicants are engaged in the certification process at any given time.   Certified sanctuaries are located across 19 U.S. states and four countries; providing care for more than 5,275 farmed animals at any one time, in addition to thousands more each year, as animals are adopted and new intakes come in.

Because of our close working relationships with sanctuaries, GFAS is aware of challenges meeting sanctuary facilities, not only to provide humane and responsible day-to-day care for animal residents, but also in areas such as organizational sustainability, At the same time, we realize that sanctuaries create a unique point of connection with farmed animals and use this engagement to improve the status of animals through facilitating behavior change in visitors and the general public.

The primary focus of the mission of GFAS is to accredit and recognize sanctuaries and rescue centers and support them to achieve the highest Standards of Excellence. As we have examined previously in the GFAS March, 2023 newsletter, the value, for sanctuaries and the animals they serve, of GFAS certification can be clearly seen. Continuing to increase the overall number of GFAS certified farmed animal sanctuaries will facilitate a direct impact on an even larger number of animals whose lives are dependent on the success of these sanctuaries – for the benefit of the animals served and the greater movement.

GFAS is so proud and appreciative of the tremendous work being done by GFAS certified farmed animal sanctuaries.


Welcome to Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Center!

Newly accredited Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo was founded in 2002 to provide shelter for the animal victims of an ongoing civil war. Since that time, it has provided sanctuary to a range of species including primates, African grey parrots, porcupines, and tortoises.

But foremost among them is the chimpanzee. DRC is home to about 90% of the world’s eastern chimpanzees, an endangered subspecies that has experienced a sharp population decline due to civil war, poaching, and habitat loss. More than 100 chimpanzees reside at Lwiro, most of whom were orphaned as babies and seized by poachers. The staff at Lwiro cares for these orphans, helping them to heal physically and providing comfort as they recover from the trauma of losing their families. While their chimpanzee families can never be replaced, these animals learn to thrive with companionship among their own kind and the care that a true sanctuary provides.

Learn more about their work, including education and community programs, by visiting

Colorado Horse Rescue’s ‘Companion Connection’ Program Helps Connect Non-riding Horses with Adopters

Most people think of horse ownership as having an animal they can ride, use for entertainment such as racing, rodeo or dressage, or for helping to work the family farm. But when these horses have outlived their usefulness, they are often discarded. Owners are not always aware of all their options to place these unwanted horses such as rescues and sanctuaries, and often send these animals to auction where they may end up in horrific conditions of neglect and abuse or loaded onto a truck bound for slaughter.

On the other side of this issue, are the people who want to care for an equine as a companion for their family or another horse, and don’t know where to find one. This is where GFAS Accredited Colorado Horse Rescue (CHR) comes in.

After struggling for years to place these companion animals, CHR recently launched their ‘Companion Connection’ program aimed at finding safe and permanent homes for those horses deemed un-ridable. By revising their approach to training, placement, and education, Colorado Horse Rescue has increased the adoption of companion animals by 50% of their total adoptions. To learn more about this AMAZING program, go to:

The Wild Animal Sanctuary Saves Hundreds of Animals from Zoo in Herculean Rescue Effort

GFAS Accredited, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is widely known for both their domestic and international animal rescues that involve challenging logistical operations and extensive permitting processes. Dozens of bears from Vietnam, lions from Ukraine, a plethora of big cats from the Tiger King parks and the list goes on. The sanctuary’s most recent rescue may be the most extraordinary effort to date.

The Juan A. Rivero Zoo, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico had been experiencing financial hardship since 2012 and the lack of funding took its toll over the years on countless animals housed in dismal conditions. The zoo stacked up numerous USDA citations during this time, but was allowed to remain open. To make matters even worse, Puerto Rico was hit by two back-to-back hurricanes in 2017. Like the rest of the island, the zoo was heavily battered by wind and rain and during the long recovery period, power was never restored to the zoo. Despite allocated funding, the motivation along with the funds, to rebuild the zoo were diverted over time and animals continued to die.​

Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico, stepped in and pressured local officials to permanently close the zoo. The Wild Animal Sanctuary was asked to lead the rescue effort and they deployed their team to assess the remaining animals for their ability to travel and what it would require logistically to transport them off island.

The variety of animals in need rivaled the passenger list of Noah’s Ark and the Wild Animal Sanctuary team set about arranging permanent homes with sanctuaries and rescues across the United States, including with several GFAS Accredited groups. Hundreds of transport crates were flown in and many had to be custom built at the zoo. The coordination of land transport to the airport, and then air transport off the island had to be intricately timed, and commenced in appropriate temperatures.

All in all, over 700 animals have been spared further suffering and certain death. An African elephant, rhino, camel, bear, chimpanzee, hippos, small primates, big cats, parrots, snakes and turtles are among some of the many survivors that are now enjoying a new beginning with appropriate space to move about safely, healthy diets, veterinary care and in many instances, with loving companions.

Hats off to Pat Craig and his team, and their tireless commitment to help animals, large and small, anywhere in the world, in any conditions, at any time.

To learn more about The Wild Animal Sanctuary, please visit:

New Certifications and Renewals

Over the past month, GFAS has certified one new organization and renewed one current GFAS organization!

Congratulations to these groups!

New Certifications

Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Center, Democratic Republic of Congo


Colorado Horse Rescue, Colorado

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