Where is Black Pine?
Black Pine is located at 1426 W. 300 N. in Albion, which is due west of the stoplight at the intersection of State Roads 8 and 9 about 1.5 miles. In town, the road is called West Main Street, and is an extension of State Road 8 (that technically ends at the stoplight). Google Maps is the best online resource for accurate driving direction assistance.
Is Black Pine Animal Sanctuary a zoo?
No. What makes Black Pine different from a zoo is that the animals that reside here were not acquired for exhibition or breeding. Our residents are not allowed or encouraged to multiply, and we do not seek them out to enhance the "visitor experience". Most of our residents were born and raised in captivity either as pets or performers. In many cases the animals have experienced intimate relationships with their human caregivers, which enables visitors to Black Pine to observe them more intimately than most zoo animals. Most of our residents would not be accepted by zoos because they can not participate in breeding programs due to lack of records proving the quality of their genetics; or zoos simply do not want or "need" them so will not accept them. In many cases, Black Pine is an animal's "last chance". Our animal residents all have names and personal histories that our staff enjoy sharing with visitors to help inform and influence responsible pet ownership and conservation. The animals enjoy relationships with the staff who care for them and will almost always come up close to see who is visiting. We will never allow any interaction with potentially dangerous animals, or do anything that would expand the exotic pet trade. Our knowledgeable, caring volunteer staff are always on hand to answer visitor questions. We also staff-guided tours each day of our regular summer season as well as field trips by appointment. We strive to provide excellent animal care above and beyond all else.
What is the sanctuary's mission?
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary exists to provide refuge to displaced, captive-raised exotic animals for the REST of their lives and to educate people about responsible pet ownership. We hope that our programs enable us to plant a seed of awareness in people to positively impact the conservation and preservation of exotic and endangered species and their natural habitats.
How big is the sanctuary?
Black Pine was originally founded on a 12.5 acre site, but in December 2006 moved to a new 18 acre site. The current site features a beautiful pine forest and gently rolling hills. Here, you will meet more than 95 animals representing nearly 50 species from around the world, many of which are endangered. A typical family will spend at least one hour exploring the sanctuary, and most of our guided tour programs last 90 minutes to two hours.
When is Black Pine open?
Black Pine is busy year-round with staff on hand every day of the year. Our first priority is the care of the animals, so program options will vary by season and staff availability. To review visitor options by date, please click here.
Can I visit with children?
Yes. We welcome children for a variety of programs. Guided sanctuary tours, offered weekdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day at 11:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m., and on weekends from May through October at 11:00 a.m., are recommended for all ages. In addition, children of all ages may participate in field trips by appointment. We do not recommend bringing young children (under 5 years), or children who may be especially challenged by our requests to respect our efforts to keep animals comfortable, remove any perceived threats, and prohibit any sort of taunting or teasing. We will not tolerate running, loud voices or noises, mimicking, unauthorized feeding, climbing on fences or other disrespectful behavior. Black Pine's visitor programs are intended to be quiet, observational, and informative, not "recreational". In addition to these rules that apply at all times, visitors who join "Feeding Tours" offered at 3:00 p.m. weekends from May through October will also be expected to remain with their tour guide(s) and as a group at all times. (The animals are especially sensitive and potentially volatile at dinner time!) Any distractions or disruptions that may occur could result in being removed from the tour, and/or the compound.
What if I don't want to take a staff-guided tour?
Staff-guided tours are not mandatory, however we will strongly recommend that all visitors attend a guided tour, especially all first-time visitors. This is the way Black Pine can truly carry out our mission to educate by sharing the intriguing and informative personal histories our animal residents bring. If you choose not to take a staff-guided tour we will still ensure you receive a proper visitor orientation and that ample staff is on hand to help answer questions and monitor your visit. Please be mindful that on weekends during the summer season self-guided tours will end at 3:00 p.m. when the staff-guided Feeding Tour begins, so plan to arrive before 2:00 p.m. to ensure plenty of time to see the entire sanctuary before the grounds become 'restricted' to only those attending the Feeding Tour.
Does it cost anything to visit?
Yes, except for any special promotions advertised. As much as we wish we could allow everyone to visit for free or at a discount, it is our nominal program fees that make providing a forever home for our residents possible. We can not do what we do without the support of our guests. We generate a large portion of our funding through tour fees and do not rely on any tax funding, or large annual grants for operating funds. Our annual fundraising events help supplement our income as well. We hope that once you've made a visit to the sanctuary and taken a tour, you'll agree our tour fee is money well spent! If you cannot afford to make such a contribution, we encourage you to follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our e-Bulletins (complete the form on our "Home" page and submit), and/or watch this web site for specially announced discounted or free visitation opportunities.
What kinds of animals can I see?
Your visit will likely include opportunities to observe big cats, bears, canines, primates, reptiles, birds, grazing animals, and many more. Visitor favorites are the tigers, leopards, lions, wolves, monkeys, and Tarzan, the resident chimpanzee. The animal population is always changing as new animals arrive to being their "second chance" at life, and others pass over after enjoying their final days in our care.
Can I pet any of the animals?
From time to time we have domestic animals that, when safe for both the animal and our visitors, we will allow you to touch and see up close but always with supervision and/or safety barriers in place. Do not expect, however, to engage in contact with large carnivores or other potentially dangerous animals. We do not feel it is safe or responsible to allow "strangers" to the animals to engage in hands-on contact when such animals can be injurious, even lethal. In fact, facilities and private owners who have allowed such encounters have largely influenced the vast overpopulation of captive exotics, so it directly conflicts with our mission to reduce unwanted/displaced exotic animals. Even though you cannot touch the big cats and bears, you will see them in a much more intimate setting than at any "zoo".
Can wheelchairs be used?
Yes, however conditions are not ideal. To date, we have not been able to afford to pave our visitor pathways, so we cannot guarantee every wheelchair-bound visitor will be able to see 100% of the facility at this time. The visitor paths are currently finished with a layer of recycled asphalt and in some places, the stone surface may be loose, like gravel, making it sometimes difficult to navigate. The staff is happy to try to accommodate anyone with special needs by use of a golf cart. Pre-arrangements are required. Motorized chairs are also welcomed and may maneuver a larger portion of the site. Please inquire upon admission if you need assistance or call ahead to (260) 636-7383.
Can other zoo passes be used at Black Pine?
No, but we do offer our own Park Pal memberships, senior discounts, and a variety of specials throughout the summer. Black Pine is a not associated with any zoo. Consult our Events page for upcoming specials. You might also search the internet for various coupon offers that may be available.
Can I take pictures/video?
Yes! But we do ask that none of the film or photos be used for commercial purposes without our expressed written consent!
Will my kids enjoy it?
Yes, if the appropriate expectation is established for appropriate behavior and what Black Pine offers. It is important to understand that Black Pine is not set up for recreation, or to "entertain" anyone. We don't recommend bringing children to the site to burn off excess energy, or to practice their animal imitations. Black Pine does not offer a playground, concessions, or other common "zoo" amenities. We do offer animal-related gifts and souvenirs, and often have educational toys and other items for purchase. Our hope is that children will visit with their families and/or classrooms to learn respect for animals and how to be responsible pet owners when they grow up.
For those children who love animals, and parents who wish to instill in their children a respect for animals, we offer an unparalleled opportunity to observe them in a very intimate setting. Perhaps more importantly, we encourage children to ask questions of our keepers to learn about the animals and what it takes to keep them healthy, both in captivity and in the wild. We highly recommend bringing children for tours during our summer season. We also recommend our various field trip educational programs, offered for schools and other educators, typically booked by appointment in spring and fall.
Do you offer any food concessions?
At this time, Black Pine offers beverages (vending machine) and may occasionally have light snacks available. Visitors are welcomed to pack snacks or a full picnic and enjoy use of our covered picnic pavilion and tables at no charge. (Please, no alcohol, straws, or party balloons allowed.) If you are planning for a larger group to visit and picnic, please call ahead so we may help ensure the picnic facilities are not double-booked, or advise of other options if they are already being used.