Our sanctuary in Texas, Black Beauty Ranch, plays an extremely important and inspiring role for animals who have nowhere left to go.
Take Chip, the horse who arrived at Black Beauty this week from Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. He had to be removed from his home, but through no fault of his own. After years of being fed by tourists, Chip had become conditioned to expect food when he saw people. And when he didn’t get it, he got aggressive, creating a dangerous situation for everyone concerned.
According to the National Park Service, Chip has been involved in more than 50% of all incidents resulting in injury to visitors to the island since 2017. This strong-willed horse also proved resistant to methods used by park staff to move horses out of potentially dangerous situations, “totally ignoring actions which cause other horses to move.”
We are so glad to be able to offer Chip a safe home at our sanctuary. He will spend some time in quarantine on a 4-acre pasture before being introduced to other rescued horses for socialization on the 1,000-acre pasture. We have more than 400 rescued horses and donkeys at Black Beauty, including Fabio, a senior horse who was himself relocated from Assateague Island in 2011.
Chip almost immediately tasted the Texas grass that the sanctuary pasture had to offer. Caregivers weren’t sure how Chip might respond, since he’s used to grazing on the saltier grass of Assateague Island, but his voracious appetite seems to be sated just fine. He’s occupying himself by grazing on all the fresh grass he wants.
As happy as we are that Chip has arrived safely at the sanctuary, it is bittersweet since he never should have had to leave his wild home in the first place. When people entice wild animals, like Chip, with treats, they are endangering their well-being and disrespecting the wild nature of those animals. That’s why it’s so important to properly store garbage and always keep a distance from wild animals. People need to respect and appreciate wild animals so that we can safely co-exist with them and ensure that they thrive.
Black Beauty was founded in 1979 in Murchison, Texas, by author and animal advocate Cleveland Amory, and its first residents were equines: 577 wild donkeys whose lives were in danger were air-lifted one by one from the Grand Canyon without a single injury or loss. Those who could not be adopted came to Black Beauty Ranch as the first sanctuary residents. A sign at the entrance of the sanctuary that quotes Anna Sewell’s classic book, Black Beauty, always moves me whenever I visit: "I have nothing to fear, and here my story ends. My troubles are all over, And I am at home." This is surely true for Chip.
Our caregivers know that in an ideal world, animal sanctuaries like ours wouldn’t have to exist; tigers wouldn’t be kept as pets, chained up in basements and backyards; macaques wouldn’t be bred and used for years for painful research experiments; animals born in the wild, like Eve the black bear and Chip the horse, wouldn’t have to be removed from their habitats because of conflicts with humans.
Until our society learns how to live in better harmony with animals, individuals like Chip will always have a home at places like Black Beauty. To support the animals at Black Beauty, you can send them something from the sanctuary’s wish list.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.