Best Friends Animal Sanctuary & Southwest Wildlife Foundation in Utah

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Reception Building

Avian greeters

Joey, Hyacinth Macaw

South America

Honey, Major Mitchell Cocaktoo


Seppi, Mollucan Cockatoo

native to Indonesia

Writes a column in the monthly magazine

Quetzl, Congo African Grey

Age 54 - the same as Mark!

Tika, Umbrella Cockatoo, native to Indonesia

"Angel Canyon"

The sanctuary sits on 5 stunning square miles

Rescued horses live in Horse Haven

Angel's Rest Cemetery

Cemetery plots for all the animals. No animals are

killed; most are fostered out to new homes; a lucky

few live out their days at the sanctuary.

The cat house at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

The cat house

Siesta time at the Cat House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

Siesta time

The Bunny House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah At the Bunny House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

Bunny companionship

At the Bunny House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

All the bunnies, dogs and cats

have indoor/outdoor living

quarters, and they come and go

at will.

The Bunny House at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

Nothing like some soft green grass for your


Dogtown Heights at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Martin Tyner & Thumper, a Harris Hawk

22 years old, reaches speeds of 100 mph

Igor, a Prairie Falcon Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Igor, a Prairie Falcon

Dives for prey at 200 mph

Scout, a Golden Eagle Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Scout, a Golden Eagle

Can spot a yummy rabbit from 5 miles away.

Golden Eagle: 7 lbs and 7,000 feathers Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Golden Eagle: 7 lbs and 7,000 feathers

Can reach altitudes of 35,000 feet

and hurtle towards earth at 145 mph

Raptors - Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Each raptor got many hugs during the seminar.

A different golden eagle was released later that day

from an overlook in Cedar City, UT.

Utah Sanctuaries: Best Friends & Southwest Wildlife Foundation

July 15-19, 2008 - Kanab, Utah sits squarely between three of

the greatest national parks in the US, and we stopped there,

along with everyone else, for supplies, water and haircuts.  We

didn't intend to stay, but as we were leaving town we saw a cute

sign that said "Best Friends Animal Sanctuary" with an arrow

pointing down a winding road that seemed to go deep into a

canyon.  We couldn't resist the temptation and took that turn.

Four days later we finally emerged!!

Best Friends is a unique,

extraordinarily well-funded and

beautiful no-kill animal shelter.

It sits on 5 square miles of

exotic red rock canyon and

houses 2,000 animals.  Their

mission is to find homes for all

the animals that are adoptable, while the rest are allowed to live out their days in the loving care

of an enormous staff.  The grounds and landscaping alone are worth seeing, but it was the

many tours of the various animal areas that kept us in that canyon so long.

I am a bird lover, and the parrot garden is a treat.  On

summer days, all the parrots are kept in outdoor enclosures under a canopy of huge shade

trees near a pretty waterfall feature.  Visitors are invited to interact with the parrots, and we

spent many happy hours entertaining and being entertained by these squawking, talking,

feathered comedians.  The parrots' nighttime quarters

are indoors, so twice a day during the summer months

the bird caretakers do the Parrot Parade, carrying each

bird between its indoor enclosure and its outdoor

enclosure.  On the hottest summer afternoons the

caretakers walk around misting the birds with water

sprayers to help them stay cool.  What a life!

An important

theme at the

sanctuary is



between the

animals and

people.  All the tours are free, and you can

volunteer to stick around and work with your

favorite animals for as little as a few hours or

for as long as you want to stay.  There are

cabins and a tiny RV park in the canyon to

accommodate volunteers, and many return

for a week or two every year.

Seppi, a Mollucan cockatoo, likes to walk

along the underside of the

roof of his cage, hanging

upside down and talking to

you.  Quetzl, a quiet

African Grey, was hatched

in 1954 but doesn't look a

day over five.  Tika, an

Umbrella cockatoo, was

summering at the sanctuary

while his owner took care of

some personal challenges.

He was accustomed to a lot

of attention, so he was happy

to climb into my arms and get

some free cuddles for a while.

The canyon, officially "Kanab Canyon" but affectionately called "Angel Canyon," is a

dramatic gorge lined with towering red rock cliffs.  Most sanctuary tours require a

shuttlebus ride of a few miles from the reception building out into the rest of the

property: Dogtown Heights, the Cat House, Feathered Friends and the Bunny House.

The drive along the cliff's edges is stunning, and we passed some

of the sanctuary horses who live a charmed life, grazing in peace

while gazing at multi-million dollar views.

Angel's Rest cemetery is along this road as well.  Every animal that dies at the

shelter is buried here with a headstone.  There are tiny plots for the little birds and

big plots for the large farm animals.  Even horses, goats and cows are adopted out

to new homes, whenever possible, and the video shown hourly at the reception

building included snapshots of many happy people who had become loving owners

of goats, sheep and other farm animals.

Most of the animal

buildings are built with

wings that provide an

indoor shelter with a

doorway the animals can

pass through to reach an

outdoor shelter.  At the

cat house, the outdoor areas include ladders, pillowed perches, and a

lattice-work of planks and shelving near the ceiling.  Litter boxes, food

and water dishes are discreetly placed in these out-of-reach alcoves.

Looking up, all we could see was the

odd paw or tail hanging down from

the lofty hideaways.  It was siesta

time, and all the cats were happily


The bunnies have indoor/outdoor

housing as well, and since bunnies

like to cuddle, many had a stuffed

bunny to snuggle up to.  Outside, one bunny

was working very hard digging a hole, while a

few others were taking a load off under little

tent-like canopies that offered cool shade in a

lush bed of soft green grass.

Dogtown was a busy barking array of buildings.  Most of the

dogs from Michael Vicks' dog-fighting operation had just been

rescued, and many dogs from Katrina were still in transition

here.  We heard amazing stories of animal rescues.  One lady

had 200 guinea pigs living in her 10' x 10' kitchen, and another

wacko had 1,600 rabbits in her back yard.  1,000 cats were

taken from a crazy lady's home in Pahrump, Nevada, and as I

heard the tale from a caretaker I remembered reading about it in

the Pahrump newspaper when we visited eight months earlier.

All those cats, rabbits and guinea pigs had passed through Best

Friends to new owners or were still at the sanctuary hoping for

new homes.

Before an animal is adopted out, it must go on an overnight stay to ensure that it is a well-behaved

propsective pet.  Visitors can volunteer for these overnight stays, without obligation, at Parry Lodge in

Kanab.  If the animal flunks the test, it simply gets a little more loving at the sanctuary, as the caretakers

work to improve its manners.

August 30, 2008 - In Parowan, Utah, at the Iron

County State Fair, we attended a fantastic

demonstration and talk by Martin Tyner, founder

of Southwest Wildlife Foundation.  His

sanctuary focuses on rehabilitating native

creatures and returning them to the wild.  It was

my understanding that Rocky Mountain Power

Company has recently donated a huge, multi-million dollar parcel of land

to this sanctuary.  Eventually, once money is raised for land

improvements and building construction, this foundation could become

for native wildlife what Best Friends already is for more domesticated


He had three raptors with him:  a Harris Hawk, a Prairie Falcon and a

Golden Eagle.  He is a Master Falconer, and although he uses each of these

particular birds for education purposes, he takes them all out hunting on a

regular basis to keep their natural instincts sharp.  His job is to flush out rabbits

and other prey from the desert brush so the raptors can catch their meals.  They

fly free, and they fly high, happy to have a trained human to take the guesswork

out of finding dinner.

He told us of the highly aggressive nature of the Prairie Falcon, a slim bird that

screamed periodically throughout his talk.  A few years back he had rescued and

rehabilitated a particularly aggressive female that had deserved her nickname

"Horrible."  He released her into the desert near Cedar City, and she became a

great mom and has raised several clutches of young since then.  But she's oh-

so-smart.  She recognizes his truck from their many hunting outings together

when she was in his care.  Now, when he brings other raptors into the desert to

hunt, she goes out of her way to tease and harrass him.  One time, as he stood

with his arm outstretched waiting for his raptor to return to him, she dived

at him from the other direction, knocking him to the ground six feet away!

At the moment of impact, he suddenly understood exactly the kind of

blood-draining terror that rabbits feel when a Prairie Falcon singles them

out for a lunch date.

He invited everyone at the talk to come out to the highest ridge in Cedar

City later that afternoon to witness his release of a Golden Eagle back

into the wild.  We didn't attend, but he said that whenever he releases a

bird he welcomes spectators, so hopefully we will watch a release

another time.  He told us that the local Paiute Indians have a special

relationship with Golden Eagles.  They believe that if you say a prayer

over an eagle feather, the prayer will

be carried directly to God.  The Golden

Eagle being released that afternoon

was going to carry prayers for more

than 4,000 local cancer victims, the "down winders" in southern Utah who contracted cancer as a

direct result of the Cold War era nuclear testing carried out next door in Nevada.

Unrelated to these two wonderful animal sanctuaries in Utah, I recently discovered that Bird

Lovers Only Rescue in Dyer, Indiana has a very funny movie clip of a lesser sulphur crested

cockatoo dancing to the beat of the Backstreet Boys here.  It puts a smile on my face every time I

watch it.

We spent the summer of 2008 bee-bopping around souther Utah, and one of the most eye-

popping stops was at the majestic Bryce Canyon National Park.