Some captive facilities call themselves sanctuaries or rescue and rehabilitation centres, terms usually associated with noncommercially driven projects which rescue animals from lives of suffering. However, many places are not always what they seem.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
If you are thinking of visiting or volunteering at a sanctuary, please research the facility’s stated aims and information about their animals. If the facility does not provide any information about where their animals came from and why the facility exists, this should raise some questions.
While a true sanctuary might be expected to, for example, prevent animals from breeding – preferring instead to allocate available resources to animals already in need – many places do not limit breeding. This increases the captive population of animals with little chance of release back or to the wild. This can also undermine the welfare standards the facilities are able to provide. The origin of many animals at so-called sanctuaries is sometimes questionable. Wild animals may have been removed directly from their natural habitat, bought from suppliers who obtained animals from the wild, or bought from breeding centres, zoos or private individuals.
Many facilities also offer physical contact with their animals, encouraging them to become more accustomed to humans. This is usually not in their best interest (unless for the administration of veterinary or neonatal care). Direct contact with wild animals also poses a significant risk to human health and safety through potential disease transmission or injury.
Have you seen worrying cases of wild animals suffering in a ‘sanctuary’?
Submit an eyewitness report via our Raise the Red Flag platform.