Information on:

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary

1426 West 300 North
260-636-7383

Professional Animal Retirement Center (PARC), Inc., known locally as "Black Pine Animal Sanctuary" in Albion, Indiana provides refuge to nearly 90 displaced, captive-raised exotic animals for the REST of their lives. We offer a variety of educational programs to enhance people's knowledge of exotic and endangered species, and to encourage responsible pet ownership.

Animal residents include big and small cats, canines, bears, primates, birds, reptiles, and more.

Mission

Captive-raised exotic animals in America often have nowhere to turn when they face losing the only home they've known, yet millions of people remain unaware of their plight.

Thousands of captive animals each year are surrendered, abandoned, confiscated, and otherwise displaced.

History

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary had a very humble beginning and like many organizations, it has evolved to become what it is today.

Back in the late 1980's the sanctuary's founder, Karen Hoag, her husband, and their young daughter, Megan, were living at an historic farm house located at the west edge of Albion, the county seat of Noble County in northeastern Indiana.

Karen's life-long passion for animals is often summed up by her own admission that as a little girl "I always wanted all of my stuffed animals to come to life".  With ample acreage and several outbuildings suited to farm animals now sitting vacant, she and her carpenter-husband slowly began adding to their family.  Within the first few years they were enjoying the daily routine of caring for African ostrich, potbelly pigs, llamas, and black Welsh mountain sheep.

What was then known as Bonar's Funny Farm soon took a turn when the family adopted a pair of mountain lions.  The arrival of the large felines brought about a new chapter of growth when followed by two Siberian tigers retiring from the circus.  Not long after, two snow leopard cubs arrived, surplus from an Indiana zoo.  With these changes came a new name, Black Pine Exotics. 

By 1995 Black Pine Exotics' population was growing into a full-time job for Karen.  She soon sold the hair salon she had owned in town for years to work full time at the sanctuary.  Often delayed in getting chores done by well-meaning, but curious friends and neighbors, a decision was made to establish business hours and begin to allow people to visit the animals on a regular basis.  Within the first two years hundreds of local school children and families were visiting on field trips and summer outings.  A small gift shop was added, and Black Pine Animal Park was born.

From 1995 until 2003 Black Pine grew, and with the growth came more sophisticated educational programs, a volunteer program, and more animals.  Bengal tigers, chimpanzees, and black bears all retired from performing to live out the remainder of their lives at Black Pine.  Growth posed many challenges, not the least of which included divorce.  Though Karen relocated to Tennessee for a period of time, she returned to fulfill her wishes for the animals.  In 2004 Karen led the sanctuary through its most important transition into a non-profit organization.

Karen had always wanted to ensure that no matter what happened to her personally, the animals would be assured a good and permanent home and that someone would be there to care for them.  In forming Professional Animal Retirement Center, Inc., she did just that.  Joined by a core group of dedicated volunteers, a new board of directors was established and the sanctuary became a 501c3 tax exempt organization.

Since 2004 Black Pine's board of directors has taken many steps to help ensure the best care possible to animals in need.  The board adopted a no breeding, no buying, no selling, and no trading policy to help ensure every animal who is given refuge will not be jeopardized by unplanned or irresponsible growth.  This commitment to grow slowly was challenged, however, when the sanctuary lost its lease in 2006.

In April 2006 Black Pine was leasing the privately owned land where the sanctuary was originally founded and built.  The landowner, who had since moved out of the adjoining residence and was no longer involved in Black Pine, was notified that his property insurance carrier was going to terminate coverage.  Though the sanctuary's own insurance was not affected, the landowner gave only two choices to the sanctuary - buy or move.  In short, the board determined it in the best interest of the sanctuary's future to move.

The sanctuary's Relocation Project was kicked off in June 2006 and by December that same year the sanctuary had relocated to its current site.  By the end of 2010 all of the original residents, and several adopted in the meantime, were all comfortably living in new, permanent habitats.  Another name change was made to Black Pine Animal Sanctuary as the organization further embraced the true mission.

More than 1,200 individuals and businesses donated to the rebuilding process and continue to support the non-profit mission today!  Over 40 community volunteers and unpaid college interns work routinely in carrying out the daily husbandry needs of the animals.  Nearly a dozen dedicated animal keepers provide the foundation necessary to ensure high quality care for the animals.  They are led by a team of consulting veterinarians who also donate their time and talents.

If Karen has learned anything during this roller-coaster chapter of her life, it is to never give up. Today she happily tells visitors about her wishes as a child, though she admits "if I had known how much poop would be involved...?"... Still, she'd "do it all over again!"

- Lori Gagen, Executive Director



Reviews

Andrew Young

Rating:
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
A beautiful sanctuary with knowledgeable and caring staff. We were pleasantly surprised by the clean atmosphere provided to the animals. There is a wide variety of creatures cared for at the facility. We took our family during a rainy lake weekend in June. The kids loved the wolves, birds, and lions.

Linda Yoder

Rating:
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
I loved this place! I took my 5 year old grandson and my 8 year old granddaughter and they both loved it too! Definitely sign up for the tour, especially if it's your first time here. Our tour guide was very informative and interesting to listen to, and was awesome with my grandchildren. Not all of the animals were out due to rain but we still got to see lots and learned lots! The cool thing is that, unlike a zoo where you just walk around and read plaques while looking at animals, here on the tour you learn about their personalities, what they need to be healthy and what happens if they don't receive that. It's very in-depth. The tour is 90 minutes but it's so interesting that the time flies! I highly recommend this place and will definitely go again!

Sarah Verity

Rating:
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Very amazing place. Anyone thinking of donating definitely should. They help animals that have been abused and neglected. Wild and exotic animals that people tried to keep as pets, were given as a prize at a fair, were used in the entertainment industry, etc. They are open to the public to help educate people and raise awareness and earn money to help the animals. But it's not a zoo and they will tell you how you should behave around the animals, so always be respectful and mindful. These animals have been through alot. They are beautiful and it's so nice to go there and see them. :)

Michelle Hammond

Rating:
Sunday, June 24, 2018
The facility is very nice for these beautiful creatures. I was surprised by the care of the staff and the education we received on these poor animals lives. I would recommend this place to anyone in the neighborhood.

Jessica Faszler

Rating:
Thursday, May 24, 2018
The animals are not forced to be on display like at a zoo. Some are not even out. They also unlike a zoo, will kick out visitors who are upsetting to the animals. No screaming and tormenting them. It's a beautiful place where they can relax in peace. They also contributed to having stricter laws put into place about owning exotics so they are better taken care of.

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media