As the weather warms up, the animals come out to play. A yearly pilgrimage to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is a tried and true summer ritual for families all across northeast Indiana. But for animal-lovers seeking a different environment to experience their favorite wild animals, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary will hold their annual Summer Fest event on Saturday, July 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In place of the usual guided tours of the over 250 animals that call Black Pine home, the sanctuary will offer a day full of keeper presentations and other animal enrichment activities. Summer Fest will also feature food trucks and several vendors selling handmade crafts.
Located 45 minutes northwest of Fort Wayne in the small town of Albion, Indiana, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary has provided abused and exploited animals with safe habitats since 2000. Black Pine is home to cats, canines, bears, primates, birds, reptiles and more. According to Lori Gagen, executive director of the non-profit,
“Black Pine Animal Sanctuary exists to provide refuge to displaced, captive-raised exotic animals for the rest of their lives and to educate people about responsible animal care and conservation.”
While Black Pine appears similar to traditional animal attractions, its underlying ethos sets it apart from the zoos and aquariums to which most visitors are accustomed. Rather than breeding animals in captivity and emphasizing profits, Black Pine’s focus is on animals in need.
“A true sanctuary does not buy, sell, breed, trade nor seek out animals. While we do allow visitors into the animals’ home so that we can educate them…our educational messages are typically different than a zoo or aquarium,” explains Gagen.
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary’s mission is to protect and respect animals rather than profit off of them–it is supported solely by program fees, fundraising, volunteers and a small paid staff. For those who feel conflicted about the treatment of animals in zoos or are looking for more educational enrichment, Black Pine is a perfect summer outing. Gagen notes that the sanctuary teaches the public about the plights of exploiting exotic animals as pets, performers or entertainment.
“[The animals’] will to live–and thrive–is inspiring, as is the dedication of their caregivers and our supporters to make it possible.”
Summer Fest will allow newcomers and regulars alike to experience the inspirational animals and staff that Black Pine Animal Sanctuary has to offer.
No reservations or tickets are needed for Summer Fest. Entry fees for the event on July 28 are as follows:
Park Pal members: free
Ages 0-2: free
Ages 3-9: $7
Ages 10-54: $10
Ages 55+: $8
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary
1426 W 300 N Albion, IN 46701
For additional details about Black Pine Animal Sanctuary’s Summer Fest, visit their website. Black Pine Animal Sanctuary can also be found on social media: