Instead of going to a zoo to view animals, find an animal sanctuary where you can volunteer and interact with the animals at the same time. Many sanctuaries also have Open House weekends where you can go to learn about the sanctuary and about the non-human animals who call it home. My husband and I have volunteered at many sanctuaries where we have cleaned stalls, helped rebuild areas, fed the animals, or cleaned up the grounds area. But we have also been to open houses, been on tours, and even to the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down. We have also been to rehabilitation centers. We have met so many animals who were once being farmed for slaughter, were being used in animal testing facilities, or being used in the entertainment industry. You can find a sanctuary in your area here.
Take a walk in nature, in a park, on the beach, or near a lake. In nature, if you stop and look for a moment, you will be amazed by how many things you can experience in a short period. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have seen many different types of birds, forest critters, beach critters, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents. There is always something interesting to see if you take a moment to look. During my week-long residency for the Institute for Humane Education, we took time each day to watch one particular spot for 20 minutes. It was called Seton Watch. We watched the same place each day and noted how things changed. I couldn’t believe how that one area could change so much over five days. I swear new grass grew and some faded away. I saw different types of insects each day, but I always saw a dragonfly. I felt like I was connecting with nature. Try going for a walk in a nature park, a local park, around a lake, or on a beach to see what you can find!
59. Wildlife sightseeing cruise
If you can, I highly recommend going on a whale/wildlife sightseeing cruise at least once. I know not everyone lives near the ocean or have easy access to a cruise. I am very fortunate to live in Washington State and only have to drive a few hours to see the sea. I also know these trips and cruises can be expensive. My husband was able to buy one ticket, receive one free the last time we purchased the sightseeing cruise tickets. In all honesty, I still question if this is the most good when it comes to seeing marine life in the ocean. I know it is more humane than going to see them in captivity, but I do wonder how the boats affect their lives in the open ocean. Does the noise bother them or interfere with their communication? Does it cause pollution in the bay or sound that harms them? When living a more conscious life, there is always something to think about. But being aware of your impact is powerful knowledge.
Volunteer at a local non-human animals shelter or foster for one. Most shelters are always in need of volunteers and foster parents. There are programs where children can read to dogs or cats. I love this idea! Not only are the kids helping the non-human animals become more social (which can lead to more adoptions), but they are also practicing their reading skills (and reading in public skills). While living in Austin, we fostered for the Austin Guinea Pig Rescue, and I was part of their board. We might have been a two-time foster fail too! Once for Cesar the guinea pig, and once for Sterling the mouse. The AGPR rescued more than just guinea pigs - they rescued mice, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, and rabbits as well. Never a dull moment at a rescue or shelter!
Here are Cesar and Sterling, our two foster fails. Cesar and George have been best friends since day one. Sterling was always wondering why his food dish was empty! Sadly, Sterling passed away a few years. Cesar is still enjoying being spoiled each day.