Many people have not had the chance to meet a farm animal face to face. It’s possible to go your whole life without meeting a pig or a cow or a chicken! That can make it hard for us to relate to them as we would other animals.
But getting to know these animals can forever alter your outlook on eating them; it can literally be life-changing. In the words of Jon Stewart, “It’s harder to eat meat when you know the animal’s name.” Not to mention, cow cuddles are basically the best thing ever!
So if you’re looking for a place to meet your new interspecies best friend, a farm animal sanctuary is your best bet. There are dozens of these peaceful havens across the world doing incredible, life-saving work.
If you’re into the idea of scratching a pig’s back or kissing a chicken, here are six farm animal sanctuaries where you’re sure to fall in love.
This Maryland haven is both a home for many rescued animals. The Poplar Springs team has made it their mission to educate the public on animal welfare issues while promoting love and compassion for all beings. With operations housed in a restored, Colonial-era farmhouse, the charming, bucolic setting is an amazing place to witness animals as they should be — living free, happy lives. While there, introduce yourself to Bella Bunny, Irwin the pig, and Franny the sheep. Can’t visit? Watch Compassion Over Killing’s award-winning new video filmed at Poplar Springs!
You might recognize Edgar’s Mission from its famous tagline: “if we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?” Or, from the many uber-adorable videos of its sweet and happy residents. The 153-acre paradise was named after Edgar Alan Pig, a rescued pig and farmed animal ambassador who inspired founder Pam Ahern to start the sanctuary. If you can’t make the trip to Australia to visit in person, you can follow the crew’s incredibly cute updates on social media and feel like you’re right there.
Dating back to 1989, this California-based sanctuary is one of the nation’s oldest. At 600 acres, it’s home to 200 permanent non-human residents including cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, rabbits, and turkeys. Among Animal Place’s residents are Maddie the cow, rescued from the dairy industry and Lucile the pig, who escaped a transport truck on her way to auction. Watch these happy chickens! The sanctuary also features a 60-acre adoption center, so you might find a new family member while you’re visiting.
Happily Ever Esther
Inspired by beloved social media all-star Esther the Wonder Pig, this sanctuary bears her name — and her compassionate spirit. Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, Esther’s dads, opened the Canada farm in 2014 after raising funds with the help of Esther’s many fans–and they’ve been rescuing abandoned and abused farm animals ever since. The oasis is home to pigs, cows, chickens, a peacock, goats, sheep, rabbits, a donkey and a horse. And Esther lives there too of course (albeit in the house!)! DYK Esther joins the VegWeek fun? Watch her adorable video & turnip the beet!
This 36-acre Florida sanctuary is home base for 140 residents, from chickens to cows to turkeys to dogs. The lucky rescued animals who live here receive around-the-clock care, high quality food, and live in lush green pastures and spacious barns where they laze, graze, and get love all day long. Visitors and volunteers can meet Eliza Moolittle (read the sad-to-heartwarming story of this once-grieving calf who wouldn’t leave her mom’s side) and many other friendly faces.
Known as “heaven on earth,” for farm animals, this Pennsylvania-based paradise has 200 residents of 11 different species. Furry and feathered residents include Daisy the duck and Hannah Jane the hen. While meeting these — and many other — animal ambassadors children learn about ecology, health and wellness, compassion, and even interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. Visit or volunteer and get a new perspective on living a compassionate life.