By Carrie Rodovich
Nestled just two hours east of Lake County, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, Indiana, offers a permanent home to nearly 100 exotic animals.
The sanctuary is home to nine tigers and six black bears, as well as dozens of other animals that were born in captivity and products of the exotic animal trade, said Lori Gagen, executive of the Black Pine Animal Sanctuary.
The sanctuary was first opened to the public in 1995 and moved to its new, larger home in 2006. It is regularly opened to the public for guided tours.
Not only does Black Pine provide a permanent home to animals who were rescued displaced from their previous homes, it also educates people about responsible pet ownership, Gagen said.
The exotic pet trade is a $10 billion a year industry in the United States, Gagen said, and the animals get poached, smuggled and auctioned off as pets.
“A large number of those animals wind up growing too large, too dangerous or too expensive to be kept and are surrendered or confiscated and moved to sanctuaries like Black Pine,” she said. “In addition to giving these animals safe and permanent refuge, we aim to help educate the public about the plight of these animals, the overpopulation of captive exotics and the lack of laws to protect both the animals and their welfare, as well as public safety.”
In addition to the tigers and bears, visitors can expect to see leopards, lions, cougars, wolves, monkeys and reptiles.
“(We) require all visitors respect (our) rules that exist to help ensure the animals remain comfortable, relaxed and content,” she said. Teasing the animals, loud voices, or running are not permitted inside the sanctuary. More....