Need a pick-me-up? These nonprofits offer ways to spend time with cute animals — you could even try some goat yoga or sheep meditation!
Sonoma County may be a dream destination for wine lovers but there are many ways to enjoy the good life here, beyond the tasting rooms.
How about rolling in the mud? Or napping in the hay? Or roaming around with a bunch of furry friends? That’s how pigs, sheep, goats, bobcats, mountain lions and other farm animals and wildlife spend their days at local animal rescue organizations.
A select few of these animal sanctuaries offer a chance to visit, learn and make a difference — some even host yoga sessions with goats and “sheep meditation.”
Charlie's Acres, Sonoma
Rescued farm animals are having the time of their lives just south of the town of Sonoma, relaxing and playing on the grass and in the mud and meeting visitors during group and private tours. (During the height of the pandemic, they entertained people via virtual tours and even jumped on a few Zoom calls!) Group tours are $25 for adults and $15 for children. 3201 Napa Road, Sonoma
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, Petaluma
Founded in 1981, this rescue group provides specialized medical care for more than 1,500 animals each year, from hawks and owls to raccoons and coyotes. On average, the organization releases 70% of the animals it rescues. There are a half-dozen tour options, ranging from a VIP Private Tour and Behind the Scenes Tour to a group tour held weekly on Saturdays. Cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children 4-12. Children under 4 are free. 403 Mecham Road, Petaluma, Wildlife Hotline: 707-526-9453
As the name implies, Goatlandia rescues goats, but you’ll also find sheep, pigs, horses, birds and dogs at this nonprofit farm. Group tours ($25 per person) are offered from April through mid-November. Visitors can add on an organic picnic lunch for an additional $35 per person. 1567 Cunningham Road, Sebastopol, 707-541-6216
The Bird Rescue Center, Santa Rosa
Have you ever come across a sick or injured bird and not known what to do? Since the 1970s, The Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County has taken in injured birds and helped them recover so they can be released once again into their natural habitat. Learn more about the organization in the above video. (Video by Joshua Dylan Mellars/Northern California Public Media)
The Bird Rescue Center has been rehabilitating ill and injured wild birds and releasing them back into nature since the 1970s. Each year, the center cares for 2,500 to 3,000 native birds. Its monthly open houses are currently on hold; find updates on the website. 3430 Chanate Road, Santa Rosa, 707-523-2473
By Dana Rebmann