Friday, June 29, 2007

A lost friend. . .

Today I found an old friend. The friend? Black Pine Animal Park in Albion, Indiana. I found Black Pine years ago and visited frequently. At the time it was located in the backyard of Karen and Brad Bonar. The animal sanctuary started as Brad and Karen began to take in animals that people thought they could keep as pets. Animals such as mountain lions, bobcats, snow leopards, caracals, and rhesus-macaque monkeys. The park grew as Barnum and Bailey Circus began contacting the Bonar's about taking in retiring circus animals. They adopted the tigers who originally did that stunt with the spinning round cages. They have Mr. Bear and Isaac who are retired black bear performers. They have Johnny a camel who is and retired performers. My favorite is Tarzan and Coby who are adult chimps. They have been in commercials and music videos.

The park has grown over the years of my absence. The tiger population has grown as they recently adopted 3 part Siberian tigers who were rescued from horrid conditions. They have also acquired some leopards, including a black one. There are also losses. Cesar a retired performing tiger, and the father to Cita and Jai, was buried at the former location. Pinky, one of Karen's Cougars, also passed. Recently they also lost Shengi, a female African lion. Today, Nala, still seemed to be in mourning, and the keepers said she is definitely missing her companion. Lucky, a dwarf bull was another favorite from the "old days" who is no longer with us.

The "petting" portion of the park includes many field animals including Emus, Llamas, Rheas, Ostrich, Sicilian donkeys, a mini-dwarf pony named Minnie, Pygmy goats, Welsh mountain sheep, and a pot bellied pig. The Llama's are so very sweet and the donkey's are beautiful. The kids loved feeding them today. If you make the trip to Albion, you can bring your own bread and feed the field animals. Watch out for Ginger, the ostrich, she;s a handful!

The best thing about Black Pine for families is how close you can get to the animals. I can remember about 6 years ago I was teaching Pre-K and I took all 4 classes. It was the summer that Cita and Jai, some tiger cubs, were born and they were very small. Karen let us pet the cubs and allowed the kids to play with them in the field. She used to also get the camels out and we could feed them "cookies". Today, the park is probably a little more stringent with there "no touch" policy than they used to be in Karen's backyard. But it is still well worth the trip. They relocated last December and are still in the process of building permanent outdoor habitats for all the animals. So, pardon their dust. Invest some time and some money at a local sanctuary, you will be amazed how cool it is!


Andrew Kaduk said...

In all candor, it's best to visit the park on overcast and/or cooler days, as the animals do, by and large, seek shelter from the sweltering heat and may not be visible.

Angry White Boy said...

Sicilian donkeys? I gotta see that!