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How to Start an Animal Sanctuary

You are the ambitious animal lover; the activist who wants to make a difference saving the lives of stray or endangered animals around the world. You know that every animal struggling to stay alive against human abuse, hunting, trade and capturing needs to be rescued, rehabilitated and cared for regardless of their species. You preach and debate that animals should have a life of dignity and respect and should not be terrified or pressured by relentless, ungrateful people around the world.

You are reading this article because now you want to be proactive and extend a helping hand to all endangered exotic animals worldwide. Whether saving the lives of two or two-thousand animals, you want to make a difference to end animal abuse by starting an animal sanctuary.

While this article will give you some tips and pointers on how to start an animal sanctuary successfully, we suggest consulting a variety of resources to ensure that you consider all the requirements and the commitment you will have to make.

First and foremost, starting an animal sanctuary will not be easy. Not only will it require time, patience, money, love and commitment; it will be physically and mentally demanding. Opening a sanctuary involves planning, funding, legal settling, land zoning, building, staffing and hiring the right individuals (veterinarians, volunteers, etc.), educating, food sourcing and adopting animals. All of these aspects need to be considered and require a great deal of devotion and perseverance. Listed are the key areas you need to focus on when starting an animal sanctuary.

Planning & Funding

To start and successfully run your animal sanctuary you need to plan and fund your organization. We advise that you visit, and even volunteer at, other animal sanctuaries to understand how they are run and organized. After getting a sense of what it takes to successfully manage an animal sanctuary, you need to create a detailed, actionable and reasonable plan. Your plan should at least answer the following questions below:

  • What species do you want to save and shelter?
  • How do you plan on adopting or rescuing these animals?
  • How many animals are you sheltering?
  • Where will these animals be housed?
  • What are all the resources you will need to care for these animals successfully? (food, space, shelter, etc.)
  • What experience and expertise will you need on your team? (veterinarians, volunteers, experts, etc.)
  • How much will it cost to rescue and care for these animals?

After the planning stage, you then need to brainstorm funding ideas to ensure that your animal sanctuary continues to run. An animal sanctuary is a non-profit organization that requires money just like a business. Money is the primary resource that will enable you to purchase land, pay your staff, build facilities and buy food, as well as other resources, for the animals.

While there are many ways to gather the necessary capital to successfully start an animal sanctuary, most non-profits use a form of fundraising to do this. Fundraising comes in many forms including special projects, membership programs, events and drives. These types of fundraising efforts all require a certain degree of marketing to ensure people are aware of your money raising efforts. Listed below are various fundraising ideas you could use:

  • Membership programs
  • Spay/neuter drives
  • Foundation grants and donations
  • Animal sponsorships
  • Business partnerships
  • Special contests
  • On-site retail store

Land Zoning, Building and Legality

After determining the species of animals you want to rescue, you then need to select suitable land and research the zoning laws in the particular area. Zoning laws regulate how you use the land, what animals you are allowed to have on the property, etc. You also need to consider your neighbors to ensure that they are okay being located next to an animal sanctuary. Overall, in regards to land zoning and purchasing, there are many questions that you need to answer. We suggest consulting a real estate attorney to ensure that you have every question answered before building on the property.

Once you considered all zoning laws and have found a suitable area for your animal sanctuary, you then need to ensure that you construct the necessary facilities to house each species. These facilities should have the essential amount of space, resources and protection.

During this phase, you need to file for Non-Profit Tax Exemption 501(c)3 status to ensure that you get all the advantages of being a non-profit organization. Being a non-profit ensures donors can claim gifts as an offset against their taxes, adds credibility to your organization and warrants a suitable separation between personal finances and charity.

Staffing & Resources

Hiring the right individuals to help run your animal sanctuary is crucial. You need to employ or link up to workers that are specialized in certain areas including veterinarians, veterinary specialists, animal researchers and experienced volunteers. You also need to ensure that you have the right supplies and materials needed including medical supplies, handling materials, animal feeder supplies, etc. We also suggest connecting with spay/neuter programs as needed.

It is also important to acquire quality feeder food for the animals that you care for. Regardless of obtaining food through a donation program or buying bulk food, it is imperative that you research the animals to guarantee that you are feeding them the right food. For example, if you are taking in endangered exotic birds of prey or large snakes you should know to feed them frozen feeder mice, feeder rats or frozen rabbits.


Lastly, we suggest joining animal sanctuary or shelter programs, animal seminars and classes to broaden your knowledge on caring for specific wild animals. Every animal has unique characteristics and has certain needs to survive. You should educate yourself and become an expert.

Overall, this article is a brief explanation of what it takes to start a successful animal sanctuary. You should consult many resources to help you with your process. If you decide to rescue exotic reptiles, birds of prey or other wild predators, Rodent Pro has the quality frozen feeders you will need to keep your animals healthy and strong.




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