Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Pardon me while I take a break from all the eating to let you know about a fun and worthwhile animal adventure I had over this long holiday weekend. I drove out to the city of Acton (just outside of Palmdale off of the 14 freeway) to visit the Animal Acres farmed animal sanctuary. They work to promote compassionate living through farmed animal rescue and refuge efforts, public education and outreach, and advocacy projects to prevent cruelty to farmed animals. You may have seen them recently featured on Morgan Spurlock’s TV show, “30 Days” (the episode featured an avid meat eater & hunter living with a vegan family in Los Angeles for a month).

They give tours every Sunday. The later tour doesn’t start until 1pm (the earlier one is at 11) and I had just enough time to make it, having just decided to go there on the spur of the moment. I called first to make sure they were open, which happily they were, so then I loaded up the CD player with some tunes and hopped on the freeway. Driving like a speed demon on a wide open holiday-weekend highway, I made it there in less than 40 minutes.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary I was greeted at the front entrance by the friendly dogs who seem to have their run of the place. I spent a fair amount of time playing fetch-the-plastic-donut with Duke, the dog in back.

The tour is set up to to allow you to meet and play with the animals while being educated about the rescue services they provide here. It is assumed that visitors know very little about factory farming animal abuses, so the information is presented in easy to digest bite sized pieces, while getting the important issues across. They don’t ram anything down your throat and there is only a three minute video at the beginning that shows a few seconds of graphic scenes. Mostly the tour lets you get to know the animals while you hear their stories and learn about the awful sorts of things they have been rescued from. Children are welcome on the tours, so nothing too nasty is shown or talked about.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary We were all told at the beginning that everyone here would be treated equally, meaning no one was going to be judge for what they do or don’t eat. As our tour guide explained, “not everyone is there yet”. Coming to a place like this to see these animals and learn about this stuff first hand is a big step. There’s no way that someone who eats animal flesh or dairy could come to this place and not stop to consider their dietary choices in a way they maybe never had before. I liked that they weren’t trying to bully people into being vegetarians, they were instead taking the approach of showing people the real effects of what not being one means to other living beings as well as the world around us.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Our lovely tour guide and her helpful assistant.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Mary had a little goat…

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Mama and babies.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

The tour is very kid friendly. Get it? Kid?
I crack myself up sometimes.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Mr. Ed, a Brahman bull, weighs over one ton. He is so beautiful and so massive. This gorgeous animal was destined to become someones next few thousand hamburgers and has suffered intense abuse, especially to his face and neck area. While he is not naturally aggressive (even though he has not been neutered), he cannot be approached other than by the trained staff because he is very sensitive about anyone coming near his face. I would be too.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

He’s showing off for us here!

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

These two shy cuties had to be coaxed to come out and say hello.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Ah, reward at last!

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Emu! They were so cute and smiley but we were told they are badasses too.
Can’t get too close.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Our tour guide explains the horror of battery cages.
For information on battery cages visit:
Ban Battery Cages and Vote Yes on Prop 2

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

These two geese are husband & wife and they’re together at all times.
They are really loud, which comes in handy in the evenings to alert of marauding coyotes.

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Rescued factory farm chickens.

It’s no secret that the highlight of the tour that many come to Animal Acres excited about is getting to spend time with the pigs. Of course all the animals here are cute and friendly… but really it just doesn’t get much better than hanging out in a pigsty with a bunch of happy, lazy pigs!

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

As you can see, this sow above was ginormous. They are breed that way to produce as much “pork” as possible, and would normally be slaughtered before reaching this massive size. Their bodies just do not stop growing, and regardless of what they are fed they’re genetically bred to put on two or more pounds per day. This poor girl can hardly stand up on her own, not to mention the fact that her small legs can just barely support her ridiculously unnatural size. Monstrosities like this are a direct result of ignorant thinking, especially the sort of self-centered philosophies of those who tell me crap like, “I could never be a vegetarian because I’d just die without bacon”. Well, say hello to the reality of your bacon… in all of it’s diseased, suffering and moribund glory.

I’m not big into pounding this stuff into people and I’ve said time and again that I’m here really just to talk about food, not to preach. But it’s hard to not get upset and on a soapbox about it when you see things like this… and that’s part of the problem, as most people never see it because they choose to ignore the harsh reality of the widescale suffering caused by their food choices. Fortunately this gargantuan pig and her buddies got lucky (if you can call being trapped inside of that body “lucky”) and are now living in a safe place. How people can choose to ignore what’s being done to these living creatures and consider it a necessary sacrifice in the name of their fickle appetites is way beyond me. No really… without bacon… you’re not going to die. In fact, you just might live a little bit longer and cause a little less suffering along the way.

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“Hello, and thank you for not eating us!”

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Did you know that pigs love to have their bellies rubbed as much as your cats and dogs do? It’s true, they roll over for it with glee and can’t get enough!

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Check out that sweetie above giving herself a dainty little bath… talk about maximum cuteness! I had such a great time visiting Animal Acres, and especially hanging out with the pigs. They are such friendly and playful animals… I know I tend to anthromorphosize animals a bit much, but it’s hard to look at that sweet face in the bathtub and not see that she’s smiling and enjoying herself. The overwhelming sense I got from all of these animals was that they were so very grateful to be there, to be alive and not in pain. If they could talk I have no doubt that the first words out of most of their mouths would simply be: Thank you.

Animal Acres Farmed Animal Sanctuary For those in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, I highly recommend a visit to Animal Acres (or if you happen to be in northern California or New York, check out Farm Sanctuary). They’ve got a great team of volunteers doing some very important work and they could really use all the support they can get. The tour is only $5 per person, kids under 3 get in free. You can of course donate more… they could sure use it. They also offer “adoptions” where you pay to sponsor an animal of your choice. Adopting a turkey around Thanksgiving time is a great option, though all the animals can be adopted at any time during the year. No they don’t send you a pig or a turkey to keep at home silly. Your adoption donation helps to sponsor the animal throughout the year, providing them food and care. They’ll even send you a nice portrait of your new buddy to proudly display on your fridge!

One bit of advice I’d give you is to wear clothes you don’t mind getting very dirty, and prepare to leave there covered in filth. For some reason I seemed to get more messy than any of the others in our small group, but I took it as a direct compliment from the animals that I was their primary target to slime! First I got the whole front of my shirt covered in cow buggers (I think she was trying to give me a kiss but missed!), and then I got most of the rest of myself covered in mud while wrastlin’ around with the pigs in their hovel. Well, I’m telling myself it was just mud… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (though the stench I brought home with me tells a different story all together). Wear closed toed shoes that you don’t mind treading around on poo in, and bring an eager desire to be surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of a real farm for the afternoon. You’ll be smelling like a goat by the time you leave!

Animal Acres offers all sorts activities including the tours, cooking lessons, special events and so much more that is beyond the scope of what I can cover in this post. They’re having a big star-studded gala this weekend (Daryl Hannah, I freakin’ love you) in order to raise some much needed funds. I’m rather envious of those who will get to attend. I encourage you to visit their website to learn more about what they do, and you’ll also be able to read the individual stories about some of the animals I’ve introduced you to. Next time you find yourself looking for something fun to do on a Sunday morning, head on over to Animal Acres and put some of that fun to good use. The animals will most certainly be glad you stopped by.

www.animalacres.org

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15 Responses to “Animal Acres, a Farmed Animal Sanctuary”
  1. VeggieGirl says:

    What a wonderful place!

  2. The animals are adorable! You just can’t ignore their sweet little faces. From what you described, I love the approach Animal Acres takes towards teaching people about vegetarianism. This experience sounds like something that really changes the way people think about their food.

    And preach it! No one is going to die without bacon. I am required to take a cooking class for my major, and we were watching a cooking video in class today and the speaker was going on and on about how animal juices and bones and this and that give so much flavor. It’s like hello! Meat is not the only “food” that has flavor! There are so many other things to eat out there, so I feel like all these culinary snobs need to stop relying on convention and get creative! Anyway, that’s what your post made me think of…

    The gaining two pounds per day thing really got to me, too. Ugh, that’s so awful. How can someone force that on another living being?

    Good post!

  3. Lex says:

    Should be a mandatory field trip for all public grade school children.

  4. quarrygirl says:

    those animals are so cute! i think going to these places would really help conscious omnivores make the switch. nice to see ya spreading the word.

  5. I am absolutely going to visit this place in the near future. Thanks for the amazing post!!!

  6. Melisser says:

    Ooh, maybe I’ll go next time I’m in So. Cal! There’s SO many cuties in this post, it’s amazing!

  7. Jennifer says:

    I had no idea that pigs were bred specifically to gain so much weight. That’s horrible!

    Thanks for the informative post and thanks for punctuating it with photos of well-loved animals!

  8. FoodEater says:

    ruby red vegan: Yep, the culinary snobbery is something people are really going to have to get over sooner rather than later. They’re not going to have a choice for that much longer as all of their favorite “resources” continue to dwindle and/or be plaqued by diseases like Mad Cow and all the various meat contaminations we hear about daily. Amazing how some will act is if you’re trying to take away their firstborn by even the mere suggestion of vegetable broth instead of watered down bone juice.

  9. FoodEater says:

    Lex: Agreed on the mandatory field trips. Too bad adults can’t be made to go on mandatory field trips as well. So many of these problems exist for the simple fact that people prefer to look away.

  10. FoodEater says:

    Jennifer: Not only are the pigs bred for such excessive weight gain, but so are all factory farmed animals that are destined to become meat, including the cows and bulls, turkeys, chickens, etc… They had some really fucked up looking chickens there from a recent rescue, nearly 200 chickens that were being sent through the mail in cardboard boxes. Some are beyond obese due to the forced feedings and messed up breeding, while the other half were all emaciated and losing feathers because they’re own genetic breeding horror story involves forcing their bodies to produce eggs… CONSTANTLY (totally not natural and very damaging to the animals health… imagine being on your menstrual period all the time, 24 hours a day, for the rest of your life). It’s so awful. I had many pictures of these sad chickens but honestly they were too graphic for me to post on my tasty food blog. The folks at Animal Acres cannot be commended enough for this work that they do to help these animals. Sadly, this one little farm out in the middle of nowhere is no match for the full scale of what’s really going on all over this country and all over the world.

    Thanks everyone for your comments! I’m so glad to hear that this article has inspired some of you to go out to Animal Acres for a visit. Please rub some pig belly’s on my behalf :)

  11. Nikki says:

    I have two adopted animals at Animal Acres – did you by chance see the sheep? My sheep is Agnes. She is quite lovely. I also have a pig – his name is Jimmy the Snout. I have two others at Farm Sancturay too, a little lamb named Lexi and a big black pig named Harry. Someday I hope to meet all of them! It is very important to post things like this entry because it shows us the faces of why as ethical vegetarians we stopped eating meat in the first place.

  12. Nette says:

    I love Animal Acres! For the seemingly small real estate they’re using, they’re doing an immense amount of good.

  13. FoodEater says:

    Nikki: How wonderful that you’ve adoted so many of these wonderful animals! I did not meet Agnes but I did hear her name so I know she was there. I did however meet Jimmy the Snout! Oh my gosh, what a cutie with his crazy crooked nose! For those who don’t know about him, he was born with rhinitis, a disease which deforms pig’s snouts. Typically, the deformed pigs are killed by the farmers… but luckily for this little guy he was saved by Animal Acres. You must be a very proud mama! I gave him a whole lot of belly rubs and I saw that everyone else was very eager to play with him as well, so you can rest assured he’s being well taken care of and getting lots of love!

  14. keleigh says:

    My roommate is the head of fundraising at Animal Acres and will be so excited about this post. The event that they held was extremely successful, and they raised a lot of necessary funds. Keep the love coming.

  15. Alison says:

    What a wonderful post (and pictures) about your trip to Animal Acres! I’ve been there twice now, and I was lucky enough to have attended the Gala last month, which I also volunteered for. We raised $150,000 that night! I wrote a blog post about my first trip there last year, and you can read it here if you like: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/alisoncole/ar2007/1184557980/tpod.html

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