Black Pines Animal Sanctuary Interview 1

Below is the transcription of Randy with Animal Weekly interviewing Lori, the Executive Director at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary. Black Pine Animal Sanctuary is an AZA Accredited 501c non-profit.


-Animal Weekly staff

Randy: “Hi, this is Randy from Animal Weekly, and I’m chatting here with Lori from Black Pines Animal Sanctuary, and we’re going to have just a quick run-down to talk a little bit about what they have going on here, and some of the things that are of interest to you as our readers. First off, hi Lori, how are you doing?”

Lori: “I’m good, thank you.”

Randy: “Great, and you’ve been with Black Pine for how long?”

Lori: “In total about 22 – 23 years, I’ve been employed here about 12.”

Randy: “Oh, ok – great! Ok, yeah, well, I just took the ‘Behind The Scenes Tour’, which is highly recommendable if you’re out in the Albion, Indiana area. Definitely stop by here and take a look at this. It’s wonderful and you’ll truly enjoy it.

So, I have a couple quick questions for you. First of all, my first question is, well first of all, how many animals are out in this facility that you guys maintain?”

Lori: “Sure, well right now we have 91 animals in residence, um, over the course of our mission here this year we’ve taken care of over 250.”

Randy: “Okay, alright, and alot of them are exotic endangered animals that you guys have attained. You’re not here to breed animals or anything of that nature, it’s a welfare situation – is that correct?”

Lori: “Correct. We often times tell people we’re an end of life care facility. So it’s for the rest of their lives is our motto.”

Randy: “Ok, yes, and alot of these animals have been forced to work in circuses, and other types of less than desirable conditions. Is that my understanding?”

Lori: “Yeah, that’s correct.”

Randy: “Ok, well, as far as our questions go, what challenges would you say face exoctic animals right now that you guys have experienced?”

Lori: “That’s a great question Randy, I think I would probably say, this sounds a little counter intuitive, but just the simple fascination that humans have with them causes it to be a challenge for them. Because so many people view them as property or objects, um, things that they would covet, and want to have, and show off, and that leads to a lot of the problems that cause us to be here.”

Randy: “I think that’s certainly true. You see celebrities who like to have these adorable young white tigers that grow up to be these man eaters, and things of that nature. And there just really not meant for that. Um, with regards to things also, is there a shortage of exotic animal rescues in the nation?”

Lori: “I don’t know that I’d say there’s a shortage of the rescue facilities, but perhaps we haven’t quite been able to build those out to the capacity opportunities that are available. So, I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of organizations, there are at least 20 peer sanctuaries with us that are members of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance for example, dedicated to large mamal care.”

Randy: “Okay.”

Lori: “But, as almost always is the case for a non-profit organization, capacity building is the challenge.”

Randy: “And finances probably?”

Lori: “So it’s a money pit to build out that capacity, yeah.”

Randy: “Okay, what would you say the most difficult aspect of running an exotic animal sanctuary would be for your experience?”

Lori: “Well, not to be too repetitive – funding, yeah, you know. Constantly looking for new sources of funding, and building sustainable funding.”

Randy: “Uh-huu.”

Lori: “Always the challenge.”

Randy: “Okay, so keep that in mind everybody, if you’re looking for a place to offer some donations to. I’m assuming you’re a 501c charity?”

Lori: “We are, yeah.”

Randy: “Okay. So… Are there certain species that are more difficult to care for and maintain than others?”

Lori: “That’s a great question too. You know, we’re kind of unique in the sanctuary community because we have such a diversity of animals in our care. We have probably about 55 species. Most of our peers who do what we do tend to focus in just a particular family of animals. So manybe they’re just primates, just birds, just wildcats. So I guess if I was going to look at it from our experiences, and our diversity, currently to me the top of the list is black bears. And that’s just a kind of an emerging area of need.

So I guess if was going to look at it from our experiences and diversity below ground level, there are still bears living on concrete slabs with steel cages. And I think maybe because they’re a native animal, people don’t tend to have as much pull on the heart strings as they would for say – a tiger or a chimpanze or something like that.”

Randy: “Ok. I see. And, again, if any of these questiones keep bringing similar answers that’s fine. I don’t know, what’s the most difficult part about running an exotic animal sanctuary in your opinion? Is it getting the finances, and funding, or maintaining it, or.. ”

Lori: “It all kind of comes back to that funding thing, but I can kind of speak to that from the perspective of the numbers of people we get inquiries from who say ‘Hey, I want to start a sanctuary, how do I do that?’

Loving animals, caring about animal welfare is not the begining of it. No. Having a business degree, understanding the non-profit community, and business requirements to run a non-profit, understanding volunteerism, and how to recruit, retain volunteers, those are – and fundraising in general, the challenges I’m experiencing.”

Randy: “Ok. Absolutely.. And, with regard to that, I think that those are some of the more universal challenges with other rescue / animal related rescues is finding volunteers and the funding. Everybody likes to say that the’re the voluneteer and, you know, put that on their resume or whatever, but sometimes, you know, some of the work isn’t always glamorous, and some people just want the title without the work, and I know that’s true so…

Alright, so, would you say that there’s any part of the sanctuary that’s especially easy, or something that’s where you’re getting more than what you need?”

Lori: “Yeah, actually in our experience I would say we really don’t have too much time filling a paid position.”

Randy: “Umm. Okay..”

Lori: “You know, there’s a lots of job applicants out there because it is such an area that people are pasionate about.”

Randy: “Umhmm. Sure.. Umhmm.”

Lori: “There are a lot of people willing to dedicate their lives to not becoming rich, and doing what they love.”

Randy: “Sure.”

Lori: “So that’s probably what I would point to as being fairly easy.”

Randy: “Okay, well that makes sense. So, if you could make 1 to 3 large changes to the exotic animal sanctuary what would you say they would be?”

Lori: “Specifically to Black Pine?”

Randy: “Sure, Uh-hu.”

Lori: “Well, I guess the timely thing for me to point to at this point would be raising the funds we need for this capital project to build another facility to house reptiles. So, the reptile industry is one that is largely unregulated, that’s why we see reptiles commonly in stores, same thing for birds. But we kind of feel like we would do well to focus on reptile rescue here for the long term.”

Randy: “Okay..”

Lori: “That would be one of them.”

Randy: “So clearly, a lot of these aniamals have come from distress situations, and things of that nature. Is there anything that consumers themselves can do to try to aliviate some of the burden and uh, the pain that these creatures are facing?”

Lori: “Yeah. Don’t act on impulse. Don’t act on feelings.”

Randy: “Okay..”

Lori: “You know. Act on facts.. Make sure you’ve got all the information you can possibly find about what an animal is going to need before you endeavour to take it.”

Randy: “Okay..”

Lori: “And, you know I even say that to good samaritans because we all know good samaritans who will immediately act and take in an animal thinking it’s for the short term.”

Randy: “Umhmm..”

Lori: “That’s a problem too, because many of the animals they take in on the short term it’s actually extremely tramatic for them to be moved over and over again.”

Randy: “Umm.. Umhmm..”

Lori: “And it can actually make things worse than just biding time a little bit and getting all of the ducks in a row before you make that leap.”

Randy: “Making an informed decision.”

Lori: “Yes.”

Randy: “And making sure you have the capability to see it through.”

Lori: “Umhmm.”

Randy: “Well, okay, I certainly appreciate your information, and um, just again for our listeners here, this is the Black Pine Animal Sanctuary. And what’s the website address for you guys?”

Lori: “Yeah, thanks for asking. Our primary website is , you can also get there by , and we have a visitor website that links from there if you want to go directly to plan a visit, it’s .”

Randy: “Okay, and they do have – make sure you check out the website because they have a lot of interesting tours and other things that might be available that would interest you.

Thank you for your time Lori. And this is Randy with Animal Weekly checking out. Have a great day.”