FAQs

When is Black Pine open?

Black Pine's first priority is the care of the animals, so program options vary by season and may be affected by staff availability.  What makes a visit to Black Pine special, different from visiting a typical "zoo," is the opportunity to meet the animal keepers one-on-one and to join them for a guided tour during which you will hear the animals' personal histories, be able to ask questions, learn more about why sanctuaries like Black Pine exist, and how they serve animals in need.  General visitation is also available and may be more suitable for repeat visitors to Black Pine, for those with infants or toddlers, for those with special needs, or when staff-guided tour schedules are too time constraining for your agenda. 

Please note, all visitors are required to adhere to and respect all posted rules and verbal instructions to help ensure the animals' safety, comfort, and well-being at all times.  All visitation will be closely monitored by Black Pine's staff at all times.

General visitation (no appointment required) is offered weekends only (Saturdays and Sundays) in May, September, and October from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.  General visitation is also offered daily (7 days a week) from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  There is no general visitation (no walk-ins) allowed after 3 p.m. on Saturdays or Sundays. Please note, general visitation is not recommended for first-time visitors.

Staff-guided Sanctuary Tours are offered weekends only (Saturdays and Sundays) in May, September, and October beginning promptly at 11 a.m.  Staff-guided Sanctuary Tours are also available daily (7 days a week) from Memorial Day through Labor Day beginning promptly at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  To check options by date by click here.

Staff-guided Feeding Tours are offered weekends only from May through October beginning at 3 p.m.  Feeding tours are open to all ages and are chaperoned by our staff at all times.  They are not recommended, however, for infants or toddlers due to time of day, length of tour, and sometimes graphic carcass feedings.  If young children participate and become disruptive they and their supervising adults may be asked to leave the tour.  To check options by date by click here.

Staff-guided Private Tours are offered only by appointment and only when other tour options are not scheduled, from September through April.  Private Tours are for ages 10 and up only and are chaperoned at all times by our staff.  To check options by date by click here.

Staff-guided Field Trips are offered in late April and May, and in September and October.  Field Trips are intended for educational institutions, and are appropriate for youth ages K-12.

Black Pine does not require, or accept appointments except during the off-season and/or for groups of 20 or more.  Call 260-636-7383 for assistance.

To review ALL visitor options, including special event activities, by date, please click here.

Do I have to take a guided tour?

Staff-guided tours are not mandatory, however we strongly recommend that all visitors attend at least one guided tour, especially all first-time visitors.  Black Pine is not a zoo.  If you wish to truly enjoy a sanctuary experience, we recommend touring with a member of our staff.  Our staff provide daily care to the animals and can offer you the best opportunity to see the most animals, enjoy the most diverse behaviors, ask questions, share the intriguing and informative personal histories our animal residents, and more.  If you choose not to take a staff-guided tour we cannot guarantee your visit will offer anything "unique."  Either way, we will 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.

How much does it cost to visit?

Tour program prices vary by age and type of program selected.  Ages 2 and under are always free.  Self-guided and staff-guided Sanctuary Tours are $7.00 for ages 3-9 and $8.00 for ages 10 and up.  Please click here for more details.

Guided Feeding Tours, offered only on weekends from May through October, and occasionally for special events, are $11.00 for age 3-9 and $12.00 for ages 10 and up.  Please click here for more details.

Guided Private Tours, offered only during the off-season by appointment are $25.00 for 1-2 people and $20.00 per additional person, available for ages 10 and up only.  Click here for more details.

Field Trips, offered in spring and fall, vary by program and number of students/youth, and range from $4 to $5.50 per person for ages 3 and up.

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 the fees are reasonable, and 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.

Do I need a reservation?

We do request that groups of 20 or more make a reservation.  Groups planning to visit are noted on our online visitor calendar to help you avoid bottlenecks, and to help us identify any need to add staff or otherwise manage especially heavy traffic days.  We are able to accommodate up to 80 guests on a single guided tour without concern.  If we see schedules filling up beyond that capacity, we will publish black-outs or add tours as needed to accommodate as many as possible.  Reservations are not required or accepted for regularly scheduled tours for less than 20 people.  Reservations are required for Private Tours offered during the off-season only.

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. and 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 infants or toddlers for guided tours, however if they do attend parents will be expected to ensure rules are adhered to in an effort to keep animals comfortable, remove any perceived threats, and to 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 or annoying 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.

Where is Black Pine?

Black Pine is located at 1426 W. 300 N. in Albion, which is about 1.5 miles due west of the stoplight at the intersection of State Roads 8 and 9.  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 there a place to eat?

Visitors are welcome to use our covered picnic pavilion, and additional tables and chairs, at no additional charge.  On occasion, larger groups may be scheduled to use the facilities. Use our Options by Date calendar to see the dates on which large groups planning are already planning a visit.

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 cannot 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 offer 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.

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 the resident chimpanzee, Tarzan.  The animal population is always changing as new animals arrive to begin 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 they they display appropriate behavior and they understand 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 welcome 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 suggest other options if they are already being used.

Will Black Pine take my animal?

The only requests for help Black Pine will not consider are those related accepting native orphaned or injured wildlife such as raccoons, rabbits, foxes, birds, etc.  Black Pine is not a licensed wildlife rehab facility, and native wildlife rescue is not our mission.  For a link to licensed rehabbers in Indiana, please visit the Contact Us page.  All other inquiries are considered on a case-by-case basis.  The first step to seeking our help is to complete an animal adoption questionnaire, accessible on our Contact Us page.

Still need help?  Please submit your question using our Feedback Form. Thank you!