Local animal sanctuary continuing animal care during COVID-19

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FALLS TOWNSHIP, WYOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Many families have struggled having enough food to feed their families during the current pandemic.

Imagine having hundreds of hungry mouths to feed. That’s the plight of a local animal sanctuary.

It’s the animals’ version of Thanksgiving at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary. This event on an early November day is called ThanksLiving: a Feast for the Birds. Turkeys, chickens and roosters get to munch on melon and berries or dive into salad.

ThanksLiving typically attracts hundreds of paying guests, making it the sanctuary’s biggest fundraiser. But to keep the event safe because of the COVID crisis, it was scaled down considerably this year with only 30 attendees.

“I think that these are important lessons for our children. You know, we have to take care of each other, take care of the animals,” guest Amanda Frieder said.

Providing for hundreds of previously abused, neglected and hoarded farm animals at Indraloka’s Dalton area and Mehoopany sites doesn’t come cheap.

“Caring for and feeding all 300 rescued animals in two locations with everything involved, it’s about $2,500 a day,” Indraloka Animal Sanctuary Founder Indra Lahiri said.

Like so many other non-profits during this pandemic, the one Lahiri founded in 2005 has endured a series of setbacks.

“We were going to have events almost every week all year long. We had guest lecturers. We had retreats planned. We had workshops. We had nature walks. We had kids programs. All of those were canceled,” Lahiri said.

“Despite all of the financial obstacles, the sanctuary looks to the future. As you can see behind me, there’s plenty of construction for many more animals.”

An upclose look reveals considerable work being done on housing for a variety of birds including chickens and turkeys, quail and peafowl. Other animal housing along with classrooms, event, space, and a catering kitchen are also planned. So is something Lahiri considers critical to Indraloka’s mission: an animal hospital.

“Too many of the rescues, not just us, but all of us, are struggling to even get a vet to see animals. We’re driving sometimes hours sometimes, losing animals on the way that could have been saved,” Lahiri said.

With materials in place to begin building that hospital but more money needed to make it and other projects happen, Indraloka has gotten creative.

“The online gallery has been a really nice success so far,” Creative Director Johnny Braz said.

Braz launched Indraloka’s first online art gallery last week with works typically displayed and sold in the sanctuary’s Art Barn. $2,500 in art work sold on the first day.

“You do rely on the kindness of donors but you have to broaden your way of doing things and find many different ways that also people can take advantage of and they get something from it,” Braz said.

Braz even brings the sanctuary into homes with various virtual presentations including this year’s ThanksLiving which he recorded, edited and produced in conjunction with Lahiri.

“I think that they are very passionate about the mission and if you spend more than a few minutes with Indra or Johnny, it’s contagious and I hope that that propels them into the future,” Frieder said.

Indraloka Animal Sanctuary will present its virtual ThanksLiving this Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.

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