Sanctuary

Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity
that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical, perhaps the most powerful of all antipolitical forces.
– Hannah Arendt

Sanctuary is the heart of our work. It is where our philosophy and practice come together, where the concept of trans-species living comes to life. What is trans-species living? Openly acknowledging that humans are not privileged over any other species and putting this understanding into everyday life and relationships.

Kerulos supports two sanctuary projects: The Tortoise and the Hare Sanctuary and the All Bull Elephants’ Sanctuary (ABES). Both reflect scientific understanding of Animals as psychological and spiritual beings. Animal care and ethics are trauma-informed and guided by principles of nonviolence embodied by the Ten Principles of Being Sanctuary. We provide lifetime care for Animals in need and host teaching facilities where students, professionals, and others learn trauma-informed care. In so doing, orr sanctuaries model how to become who Animals need us to be: trans-species communities living with nonviolence.

The 10 Principles of Being Sanctuary


  • Understanding — Develop ways of knowing and experiencing the world through the eyes of another.
  • Safety — Create and sustain physical, psychological, social and ethical safety.
  • Listening — Being present, without an agenda, to hear and respect others’ emotional and physical needs and perspectives.
  • Acceptance — Open embrace of difference.
  • Parity — Respect the needs and aspirations of others with balance, equality, and reciprocity.
  • Belonging — Cultivate positive, non-dominating relationships and space that include and connect.
  • Trust — Provide consistent confidence and care.
  • Self Determination — Support self-efficacy, empowerment, and confidence.
  • Assurance — Provide lifelong care and security.
  • Beauty — Deeply appreciating nature’s inherent value and wholeness, aligning with Nature,‘walk in beauty,’ or hozho in Navajo Dineh

The Tortoise and the Hare Sanctuary

Located in the mountains of Southern Oregon, U.S., our Tortoise and the Hare Sanctuary provides lifetime care for domesticated Rabbits, special-needs endangered Desert Tortoises, domestic Turkeys, and other rescued Animals. We also provide refuge for native Wildlife.

The Tortoises

In response to a 2014 request from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that was closing its Nevada research facility, we welcomed fourteen special-needs endangered Desert Tortoises to sanctuary. The Tortoises, whose estimated ages range from four to seventy years old, have injuries and deformities from abuse and poor care as captured “pets,” and were scheduled to be euthanized. We built five geodesic domes, where they live during the warms months, and brumation quarters when they dream during their five-six months of cold weather. Internationally recognized Tortoise experts, Don Williams, California Turtle and Tortoise Club, and Dave Friend, Ojai Sulcata Project, have been our guides.

The Rabbits

Our Rabbitat Habitat (now part of The Tortoise and The Hare Sanctuary) began with the arrival of Regina, a beautiful blue-grey and white Rabbit. Abandoned in the woods, she bounced into our lives and changed us forever. Tutored by former House Rabbit Society president and Kerulos faculty member Dr. Margo DeMello, we have created a space that welcomes other Rabbits recovering from abuse, neglect, and trauma. The current sixteen Rabbits reside in the indoor Je t’attendrai (I will wait for you) Rabbit Chalet which opens into a 3500-square-foot, fully screened (above, sides, and below) outdoor Habitat under the Ponderosa pines.

The Turkeys

Alexis and Louis joined us in November 2017, refugees from the backyard food industry. Similar to other Turkeys, they were only five months old and have heart and leg damage as a result of genetic engineering, abuse, and poor nutrition and care. We work assiduously to help support and restore their ability to engage fully in life. The Wild Turkeys who visit have lively discussions with Alexis and Louis.

Pigeon

Walter Piper Pigeon joined us this summer after being found injured in a supermarket parking lot. His left wing was broken and it was not possible to restore his ability to fly. Walter Piper shares space with Horton, a Desert Tortoise, and enjoys conversing and communing with the migrating Wild Pigeon Flock who visit.

The All Bull Elephants’ Sanctuary (ABES)

In 2015, we received a call from a Los Angeles School District teacher asking us to help free Billy, a male captive-held Asian Elephant. Billy was torn from his mother as an infant and sold to the Los Angeles Zoo where he has lived for 28 years. He lives in a barren enclosure that is only a fraction of the space he needs. Billy sways and bobs his head almost continuously. He suffers from Complex-Post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) common to human prisoners. We immediately reached out to the Los Angeles Mayor and City Council and others groups to gather support for Billy’s release. Today, the Billy campaign is a focal issue in California that has galvanized attention and support worldwide. The teacher who reached out to us, Kiersten Cluster, is now on the Kerulos board. This effort sparked the creation of The All Bull Elephants’ Sanctuary project.

ABES’ mission is to support the rescue and release of male Elephants held by zoos and circuses, and bring them to sanctuary where their dignity can be restored as their minds, bodies, and souls heal. There are over 90 male Elephants (bulls) held captive in North American zoos and circuses. Contrary to myth, bull Elephants form deep and lasting relationships with each other, yet most captive-held bulls are isolated. The ABES project, based on Gay’s Elephant PTSD work, was specifically designed to aid Elephants in need and educate the public regarding the suffering and trauma inflicted by the captive wildlife industry.