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A visit to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary

There's a bear behind you! No, seriously!





I haven't been to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary since they moved to their present location, just a few miles outside of Albion in the Noble County 4H Park. They used to be by the cemetery on the west edge of town, and when the lion there roared, it sounded like he was right outside my back window. (That particular beast passed away, and can now be seen at the Noble County Public Library's main branch.) No alarm clock could beat that.

It was humid and around 87 degrees when Emily and I arrived, but at least we weren't covered in fur.



"What are you complainin' about? I can't just take this thing off and hang it up, you know."

I manned the camera, and managed to get a few good shots. Keep in mind that Black Pine's enclosure are more about safety and animal comfort; although they get operating funds through tours and other visitor efforts, this is not a zoo. Just the same, although some of the enclosures aren't particularly camera friendly, you can otherwise see just fine.


"Can't see me, hah! No, really, you can't see me. Stop looking. I've got a reputation to maintain."


Black Pine is a rescue facility: A sanctuary for exotic animals that were surrendered or abandoned by their owners, confiscated by authorities, or retired from entertainment venues. With only three paid staff members along with interns and volunteers, the sanctuary's job is to save and protect animals, and educate humans.

I left feeling pretty educated. For instance, if a tiger pees on you it smells like buttered popcorn. Guess I’ll be snacking on something else for awhile …

I also learned that no matter how thick the glass may be between you and the alligator, when he’s three feet from you it’s still possible to tell what he’s thinking. Or her. I didn’t get up the nerve to ask.


"Hey, c'mon over here, have a seat. I'm just a nice, comfortable log. Honest.



Community support from companies and individuals, a dedicated staff, and often donated supplies keep the place going. Although it may not have the comfy-cozy infrastructure of a big ticket place like a city zoo, the variety of animals, the educational opportunities, and the events that go on make this a hidden gem of Albion, Noble County, and all of northeast Indiana. More importantly, it's fun.

I’m not sure if the animals felt that way, although I can say with some degree of confidence that the chimpanzee thought I was hilarious.


"The slapping, the being called cowardly ... we won't be seeing that Dorothy chick again, I assure you. Or her yapping little dog."


You can go on a self-guided walk about the sanctuary, but I'd recommend the guided tours, which last about an hour and a half. We got to see the bears being fed, and heard personal details about individual animals -- even the nocturnal ones who wouldn't show their heads. I also ran into executive director Lori Gagen, who had a giant cat rubbing against her leg (through a fence, but still) like it was Morris asking for din-din, and who had to nudge a bear out of its nap without the fence. With friends like that, you don’t need pepper spray.

Check out their schedule of tours and special events at www.blackpine.org, or give them a call at (260) 636-7383. Tours start at $7 for kids -- Emily and I got in for $16. Totally worth it.


"You look very juicy - I mean, friendly. Come just a little closer ..."


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2012 07:05 am (UTC)
Those are great picture and the animals and just beautiful. If I am ever your way I will have to check it out.
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:01 am (UTC)
I hope you will, it's a great place.
Aug. 17th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
I wanna go!
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:01 am (UTC)
It's worth the trip!
Aug. 17th, 2012 08:03 am (UTC)
Very cool place.
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:01 am (UTC)
It is indeed; small by some standards, but in a way that's an advantage.
Aug. 17th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)
Lion. and tigers and bears.....oh my! Great pictures! The eyes on the tiger and leopard are just mesmerizing. Thanks for sharing!
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:02 am (UTC)
Glad you liked the photos! I didn't know when we went whether I'd get any good images or not, so I'm pretty happy.
Aug. 17th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
very nice pictures. why is the crocodile bluish?
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
It was the color of the walls above him. I didn't ask, but knowing the people who run that place I'd guess they wanted to approximate the sky, or in some other way make him feel at home.
Aug. 18th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
ah okay.
Aug. 17th, 2012 03:56 pm (UTC)
LOVE! I used to live near a zoo too, but not that close that I could hear the lions at home. I love zoos that are sanctuaries. Big fat happy animals
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
Exactly right! They're all about keeping the animals happy, there.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 18th, 2012 06:04 am (UTC)
Glad you liked them! I took about 120 photos, so I'm sure glad some of them came out!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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