Katie Birk / HSUS
By Noelle Almrud, Director, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch
It is early morning at the 1,400-acre Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas and the animals are starting to stir.
The horses begin grazing on the lush green grass. The chimpanzees and monkeys come out of their shelters to eat a breakfast comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables prepared by their devoted caregivers. And a pasture full of the newest residents at the Ranch – goats and sheep – twitch their ears towards a white truck slowly approaching. As they recognize the vehicle, their tails start wagging, their feet start prancing, and they move as a group towards their feed troughs.
This is the daily feeding regime at Black Beauty Ranch. Before the heat of the hot Texas summer reaches its zenith, all of the nearly 900 animals at one of the largest, most diverse animal sanctuaries in the country are fed hundreds of pounds of nutritious food per day and their pastures and habitats are cleaned by a team of dedicated staff, interns, and volunteers. It did not take long for these new arrivals to recognize this pattern of their new life — a comfortable, healthy feeling for them after their previous negative experiences with humans.
These 18 goats and sheep, along with three pigs, were rescued from deplorable conditions on a Georgia property in April. The animals were living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions and in need of urgent veterinary care. They were brought to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in June, where they will live out their days never again experiencing the cruelty and neglect of their former lives. The baby goats in the group, who arrived with their mothers, will never know the suffering that their mothers endured.
All of the nearly 900 animals that call Black Beauty Ranch home had similar experiences to the newest residents.
There are non-human primates that have been retired from bio-medical research. They lived the first half their lives isolated in tiny cages, some receiving daily injections or invasive medical procedures. Now they are free to live out the rest of their lives in family groups and forage in the grass and trees.
There are over 500 horses and donkeys rescued from a plethora of abuse circumstances, including slaughterhouses and medical use facilities, who are all now free to graze over hundreds of acres of pastures.
Black Beauty is also a permanent sanctuary for tigers, bobcats, iguanas, tortoises and many more who were part of the exotic pet industry, purchased and raised by humans as their “pet.” When their “owners” did not want them any longer, they were discarded and Black Beauty Ranch took them in, usually without receiving any funding for their lifelong care.
Cleveland Amory, humorist, humanitarian and best-selling author, founded The Fund for Animals in 1967. In 1979, he created The Fund’s Black Beauty Ranch as a place for animals “to be looked after, not looked at.” The thousands of animals who have come through our gates over the past 38 years can look forward to many future years of peace and tranquility and never have to fear humans again.
As the day winds down the new goats, sheep, and pigs all calmly settle down for the night in their protective shelters – a far cry from their old life.
The last lines of Anna Sewell’s book, Black Beauty, summarize the sanctuary residents’ experience: “I have nothing to fear. And here my story ends. My troubles are all over and I am at home.”
The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is not a zoo but is now open to the public on a limited basis for small, pre-scheduled, guided tours to respect the peace and privacy of the animals. Guests tour the property on a bus so the animals do not even know they are being observed. For information visit www.fundforanimals.org/blackbeauty.