I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. I’m not great with directions and as I drove up the wooded drive it didn’t look like what I thought an animal sanctuary should look like. The peacock convinced me otherwise, as did the small army of cats that followed my car as I approached Maui’s famous zoo of last resort.
I’m a huge animal lover. As in bleeding heart, love all animals (almost) and get upset when I see or hear about anything bad happening to them. We have three rescued dogs at home and it’s only my fear of hoarder accusations that prevents me from adopting more. When I started describing my love of animals to new friends on Maui during a 2012 media trip, they told me that I had to visit the Boo Boo Zoo.
Officially known as the East Maui Animal Refuge, what is known locally as the Boo Boo Zoo has been rescuing animals who have no place to go for more than thirty years. The owner, Sylvan Schwab, has brought animals into the sanctuary that had been left for dead or just didn’t have a chance in the outside world. It’s a no-kill sanctuary and I was surprised at the variety of animals on the property.
As you will see in the video interview below, Mr. Schwab started the sanctuary not only out of his deep love for animals, but as a form of therapy for his wife who had been diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to provide a project that would give her a reason to live and it worked. Today the work still goes strong with Sylvan and an army of volunteers taking incredible care of the animals every day.
It was sad for me to visit because so many of the animals were injured, sick or suffering, which is why they were at the refuge. But of course I know the work at the sanctuary is important and was happy to see the love and care the volunteers have for the residents. The Boo Boo Zoo tries to adopt out as many animals as possible, but many are simply un-adoptable. They’re too sick or infirm for anyone to want to take them in.
I was incredibly moved by the deep love Mr. Schwab has for the animals in the sanctuary, and was sad to learn that funding is a constant struggle. It’s expensive to take care of all of these animals in the proper way and any and all donations are always welcome. I’ve provided a and if you’re so inclined, there’s an opportunity for you to give to the zoo directly. I’m also giving away two charms/pendants I bought on Maui that were designed as a fundraiser for the Boo Boo Zoo. They are animal designs and were made in the Maui rainforest from natural stone. I’ll give them away randomly to two lucky people who comment on this post.
Here is the interview I conducted with Sylvan. I hope you enjoy learning more about this remarkable sanctuary as much as I did.