Indiana sanctuary moves forward with relocation

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1/23/2007 8:14:09 AM

The Black Pine Animal Park in Albion has received a $50,000 grant that it says will allow it to move forward with the next phase of its relocation. The exotic animal sanctuary provides permanent refuge to retiring performing animals and displaced exotic pets. The park was forced to move last year when its lease was terminated. With the help of Noble County officials, the park has constructed four buildings for the animals and expects to begin building individual spaces and outdoor areas for the animals in March.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Press Release

Albion, IN – A grant in the amount of $50,000 was recently made to Black Pine Animal Park by the Olive B. Cole Foundation to assist in the funding of the second phase of the sanctuary’s Relocation Project.

Black Pine is an exotic animal sanctuary that provides permanent refuge to retiring performing animals and displaced exotic pets. The park was faced with having to move when, in April 2006, they learned their lease would be terminated. The Board of the Cole Foundation approved the grant in early December after giving special consideration to the sanctuary’s urgent need for funding in order to complete their relocation.

The Relocation Project, as the park’s move became known, was planned in three phases after they signed a 40-year lease to develop 18-acres owned by Noble County with the support of the county’s commissioners and 4-H Exhibit Corporation, an organization that formerly leased the land.

“Our goal in the first phase was just to provide winter housing to the animals and get the infrastructure in place to service them on an ongoing basis at the new site,” explained Lori Gagen, Black Pine’s Director of Development. “With that portion of the project nearly complete except for a few minor details we approached the Olive B. Cole Foundation to request their help to fund the next phase. We are just thrilled they chose to support our efforts!”

Black Pine ceased operations at the original site on West Albion Road on December 21 when the final few animals were moved to the new site located about one mile west on county road 300 North. Driveways, parking areas, a well and water hydrants, electrical service, and four new buildings with indoor caging and service areas were built at the new site in just five months to complete Phase I of the project. With the Cole Foundation’s support and the contributions of hundreds of individuals and area businesses, the park is ready to tackle the work that remains so the park can resume educational programs.

“We hope to break ground again in March,” Gagen continued. First on the agenda when construction resumes is to build Individual dens and outdoor habitats and exhibits throughout the wooded site to permanently house several Bengal tigers, leopards, lions, bears, bobcats, and other animals. Additional buildings will also be erected to house reptiles and birds. Over 80 animals are currently living in the new indoor buildings, but most will be moved into the outdoor habitats once they are finished.

In a new development Gagen also announced that original plans are being changed to combine Phase II and Phase III construction.

“Things have been moving right along so it now looks like we will try to satisfy our remaining needs and accommodate them with one larger building instead of breaking it down into two or three,” Gagen explained. Revised plans call for combining a gift shop and entrance building with a year-round learning center and offices to accommodate field trips and classroom-style programs. Overnight accommodations for interns may also be included in the final plans. Meetings are underway with an architect and contractor to begin reviewing costs and options.

“The response from everyone who has visited the new site has been overwhelmingly positive,” Gagen said. “We want to keep the ball rolling and we need get back on our feet as soon as possible. Combining the remaining phases can help us do that. Getting the animals into their new permanent, and much larger enclosures, and having what we need to resume our educational programs will bring an exciting end to this very challenging project.”

Fundraising has topped $230,000, just shy of what the park projected needing for the first two phases of construction. While this sum has enabled the park to continue operating and successfully move the animals, more funds are needed to complete construction while sustaining day to day operations. The very short timeline that resulted from the circumstances leading to this move made it virtually impossible to accurately budget and plan so some costs exceeded original expectations.

“The way this move came about was not an ideal situation and the resulting capital campaign to fund it has been unusual for the lack of time to plan,” said Gagen. “We did our best to estimate the costs of rebuilding everything but as with most construction projects we missed a few things. Without the incredible support of contractors and engineers who have donated their time, services and expertise we never could have accomplished what we have so far. We’re very grateful things have gone as well as they have and hope it just continues into the spring projects.”

Black Pine is now offering guided tours by appointment now through Memorial Day for a donation of $10.00 per person. Tours may be arranged by calling the park at 260-636-7383. The park plans to open for the regular summer season this Memorial Day weekend with expanded hours of operation. Details will be posted on the park’s web site at as they become available.

Those wishing to contribute to the Relocation Project have a variety of options to choose from. Engraved brick pavers will be available to order through March 1. Pavers will be laid in a garden at the new site. Volunteers are also being sought to help with upcoming construction. For information about additional giving options, contact the park. Contributions are tax deductible. Black Pine is operated by Professional Animal Retirement Center, Inc., a 501c3 tax exempt organization.

Source: Black Pine Animal Park

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