Sumter County Animal Rescue Welcomes Lemurs, Exotic Birds and More

WEBSTER, Florida. – The Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary – a non-profit rescue in Webster for primates, turtles, exotic birds, deer and more – is set to run all summer and host a variety of themed events animals.

One of the weekly events the sanctuary uses to raise funds is a Saturday morning “slot meditation” session, where attendees can participate in a meditation session while being surrounded by living sloths. rescue.

“They’re not allowed to handle the sloths, but it’s a really cool event because they’re actually in a huge tropical environment, and the sloths are lazy, either sleeping or walking slowly,” said Nina Vassallo, founder of rescue. . “And then the meditation guide kind of guides them to become lazy – it’s like a visualization of being a lazy person in the rainforest, and people love it.”

Sloth Meditation Session at Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary)

Vassallo said another feature allows attendees to paint with the lemurs at the sanctuary.

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“Once a week, we do a painting. Local artists come in, and it’s like canvas and acrylic, and then attendees go paint,” she said. “The lemurs come out and help us in some way. Sometimes they put a handprint on it or step on it. Other times they will just hang out in the trees above them. This is another very popular event.

Painting session with lemurs at Chase Animal Rescue (Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary)

Additionally, the rescue offers a program called “Lemur Yoga” which allows participants to do yoga alongside – as the name suggests – lemurs.

Like all other rescue programs, lemurs can choose to interact with yoga enthusiasts as an instructor guides them through the class, although participants are not allowed to harass the animals.

Lemur Yoga at Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary)

Although the rescue is not open to the public, these private events are available to paid attendees. Profits are used to help the approximately 160 animals cared for by the sanctuary.

According to Vassallo, running such a large nonprofit still requires a lot of funding.

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“That’s a lot…I would say $20, about $25,000 (per month),” Vassallo said. “But the way we do things, the habitats are really big. And we spare no expense if we can improve the lives of the animals, so any money that comes in is immediately returned.

While the sanctuary began more than 15 years ago as a dog rescue, Vassallo said it has grown to include many other animals, including endangered vari and ringtail lemurs.

Ringtail Lemurs at Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary)

“We were removing dogs from local shelters before they were euthanized and adopting or rehabilitating abandoned hunting dogs,” she said. “Then, about ten years ago, someone brought us a brown lemur. He was 30 years old. They were retiring, and they were going to start traveling, and they needed a place to put it.

Vassallo said the sanctuary is no longer a refuge for dogs, but rather has become a sanctuary for all sorts of other animals.

However, despite the eclectic range of animals, the sanctuary has said one type is the primary focus.

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“It’s mostly primates. We are focusing on lemurs, cottony-crested tamarins and marmoset monkeys,” Vassallo said. “It’s just kind of an ‘organic transition’ for lack of a better description.”

Vassallo added that the sanctuary has about 60 active volunteers who are focused on bringing “enrichment” to the rescue – toys, foraging options and structures to help simulate the animals’ natural habitats.

Sloth in a constructed habitat (Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary)

The rescue also offers the ability to sponsor animals for a monthly fee intended to provide the animals with the resources they need, according to the sanctuary.

For more information on events, sponsorship opportunities, or how to volunteer, visit the Chase Animal Rescue and Sanctuary Facebook page or website here.

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