Side view of a horse’s head with the sunset in the background.

Animal sanctuaries in Ontario

Side view of a horse’s head with the sunset in the background.

They provide veterinarian attention, shelter and nourishment for their resident animals to start living their best lives in a safe, loving environment. Some sanctuaries also commit to a rehabilitation program to help prepare animals native to Ontario for life back in the wild.

Most sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities are volunteer driven and depend on donations to keep going. There are several ways you can help support them, learn from the guardians and in some cases, meet the host of furry and feathered friends who have been given a new lease on life.

Hamilton, Halton and Brant

Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary

Named after a plucky pig named Esther, this rescue facility is filled with former farm animals including horses, cows, goats, sheep, rabbits and chickens. And more pigs.

Check out their Volunteer Work Day calendar to sign up for a sometimes messy, but always rewarding experience helping out on the property and spending time with the adorable farm family. Esther has inspired and entertained countless followers with her backstory.


Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

Caring for creatures big and small, from cows and goats to pigs and chickens, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done at this family run rescue farm to keep everyone happy and healthy — and you can help.

Get in touch with the sanctuary for information on their ‘work visits’ program, a chance to roll up your sleeves and experience farm hand life for the day followed by a vegan potluck meal. The farm also hosts a fundraising open house twice a year or you can become a farm animal sponsor and directly help to shelter and feed a resident rescue. Note: currently the work visits and open house are on pause.

LocationSt. Marys

Donkey Sanctuary of Canada

Located about an hour west of Toronto and just 20 minutes drive south of Guelph, the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is devoted to the care of donkeys, mules and hinnies. If you’ve ever been around donkeys before, you’ll know these members of the equine family are intelligent, playful and full of personality.

Visitors are invited on guided small group tours to meet the donkeys and shop at Long Ears Boutique. Go online and find out how you can become a donkey sponsor.


York, Durham and Headwaters

Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary

Canada’s only primate sanctuary is the home to dozens of monkeys and lemurs. Many rescued animals come from roadside zoos and illegal or inhuman captivity. Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary is also a safe place for monkey that are retired from research facilities.

The sanctuary is open to the public a few times a year. Space is usually limited. It’s a good idea to watch for Open Days and buy tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Location: Sunderland

Pegasus Animal Sanctuary

Rescued farm animals are cared and loved at Pegasus Animal Sanctuary. They also live their natural lives in a safe and caring environment. Tours are available to support the animals. The sale of merchandise also directly go to feeding and taking care of the animals.

Location: Port Perry

Bruce, Grey and Simcoe

Wishing Well Sanctuary

Operating as a haven for farm animals in need, Wishing Well is also committed to creating an environment where human guests can learn how to be kinder and more responsible stewards towards each other, animals and the environment we both share.

Get in touch with staff to book a private tour to meet some of the pigs, goats, sheep and cows or find out more about the super fun Wagon Wednesday weekly event, with wagon rides throughout the property. You can also volunteer your time or make donations towards purchasing feed for everyone. Ask about the opportunity to stay overnight at their recently introduced whimsical glampsite.


Bear Creek Sanctuary

At this volunteer driven, private registered charity, wild, rare, endangered and exotic animals are humanely rescued, protected, cared for and in the case of some indigenous wildlife, rehabilitated and released back into nature.

Currently, the best way to help support this valuable work is by sponsoring an animal or through donations. Check back with the sanctuary on the timing of guided, small group, in-depth tours of the facility, which will be by appointment only and welcome to adults and children over the age of 10.


Kawarthas and Northumberland

Promised Land Animal Sanctuary

You’ll be sure to fall in love with the resident horses, pigs, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, dogs and cats at this country animal refuge. It’s a heartwarming experience to be greeted by a gentle animal, in a tranquil setting.

To ensure more animals in need get the love, shelter and nutrition this sanctuary provides, sponsor a farm friend or donate your time as a volunteer.


Haliburton Highlands to the Ottawa Valley

Serendipity Farm Alpacas & Llamas

In addition to donations from generous donors, proceeds from the popular guided llama walks go towards caring and feeding the rescued animals at this sanctuary for alpacas and llamas in Lanark County.

Walking tours must be booked in advance. The sanctuary is open all year. The sanctuary’s store carries a wide assortment of yarns and hand-made products.

Location: Lanark

Muskoka, Parry Sound and Algonquin Park

A young boy crouching beside a goat
Muskoka Goat Away

Muskoka Goat Away

Meet the friendly goats at Muskoka Goat Away. The goat walks blossomed into a fun way to connect with goats after farmer Stephanie Brooks rescued a herd of goats. These gentle and adorable animals are well-trained and walk easily on a lead. They make excellent companions to enjoy a relaxing stroll along Muskoka’s forest trails and country lanes.

Location: Huntsville

Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Tucked away on over 150 hectares of natural habitat in the heart of Muskoka, this non-profit organization welcomes injured and orphaned wildlife, with a focus on rehabilitation and reintroduction back to the wild.

A handful of ‘patients’ transition to permanent residents if they have become too habituated and won’t survive in the wild. In this case, volunteers and staff provide them with all the care and comfort they could ask for.

You’ll need to arrange your visit in advance so staff can be on hand to guide you through the property and introduce you to the sanctuary residents, including Furley and Mama the black bears, Monty the bobcat, Spirit the arctic fox and their beloved Moose, Ella.


Last updated: February 19, 2024

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