Everyone needs a shelter, a space that’s safe, somewhere we can escape from harm. Animals do, too. Perhaps some people might think it’s strange to set up sanctuaries for farmed animals, but in fact, they are the ones who need and deserve our protection the most.
A couple years ago I was very lucky to visit Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres near LA, California. My friends and I set out early in the morning. There’re about 100 animals on the beautiful 26-acre ranch, including cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, horses, etc.
A “farmed animal sanctuary” is a place for animals who are exploited on factory farms to have a second chance in life. The animals here were rescued from abuse, torture, and neglect.
This goat’s name is Prince, and he loves following people around asking for a pet on the head.
This chicken loves belly rubs!
I was really surprised to see this cow. “How can a cow be so big?!” What the staff told us was heartbreaking – this is how big they’re supposed to be, but the cows raised for food who we often see are slaughtered before they mature till this point.
This pig, named Sophie, loves taking a nap under the sun.
Staff told us that the turkeys are bred based on the size of an oven in standard American families, so they can fit perfectly.
This cow allows me to place my head on his.
This sheep is very curious to see what we’re up to.
The pigs, cows, chickens, ducks and other animals who are raised for food are intelligent beings who can think and feel, just like the cats and dogs we cuddle at home. Whenever I think of them, I think of my cat Popu. Popu is a very picky cat. He likes everything to be clean, so he wouldn’t step into the litter box if it’s slightly dirty. He loves it when we feed him dried food with our hands. He always finds the most comfortable corner to take a nap. He hates it when anyone touches his feet, and will retract as soon as possible. He enjoys chasing after cockroaches. His favorite game is hide-and-seek, and he gets super excited whenever he spots me hiding behind the door with my head sticking out.
These animals are just like Popu, with their distinct personalities and preferences. Cows sometimes jump out of excitement when they finally figure out the answer to a question. Hens gently peck the eggs to communicate with their unhatched babies. Pigs are smarter than three-year-old human children. Unfortunately, human beings use and abuse these animals, treating them like commodities without feelings. These animals’ needs, fears and intrinsic values are totally out of the question.
Why do I not eat animals? Because they are sentient living beings just like us, fully capable of feeling pain, suffering, joy, and love. Instead of asking “how do we treat them better?” I asked myself “if I were them, would I want to be used and exploited in the first place?” My job is to help people who are ready to know that we are incredibly lucky to have a choice. We DON’T have to hurt animals in order to be healthy and happy.
The animals who were rescued and relocated here can now live a free and happy life. But what about their friends and family who aren’t as fortunate? Human beings have reached the edge of evolution. When will we remember the connection we have with other living beings, and the compassion and kindness that are within us?
Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres in LA is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, please check out their website below.