Athena, the gentle, blind Barn Owl

We arrived to the greeting of roosters crowing, hens cackling at balls of fluff, an enormous pig snoring in the mud, curious glances from shy deer, and nibbles from goats of all sizes. It’s better known as East Maui Animal Refuge or the Boo Boo Zoo, but it didn’t take long to discover we’d really entered the Island of Misfit Animals!

We met Riley, the deaf Great Dane who takes his job as protector of the others very seriously!

Earl, an Axis deer attacked by dogs, who due to his injuries can no longer use his back legs.

Gustav, a handsome black kitty thrown into a bonfire and rescued by a homeless man.

Mai Tai, a curious kitten born without eyes, who still manages to play with happy abandon.

Doogey, a blind minature pony with a “biting” attitude when the treats run out!

Baby, a 500 pound cow, also without the gift of sight.

Scarlet, a flamboyant red macaw, found abandoned beside the road.

Boots, an easy-going dog, whose owners couldn’t pay his vet bills when he was hit by a car.

The complex where the animals now live “happily ever after” looks like something out of Dr. Seuss, climbing higher and higher into the sky. 

 Most of these animals don’t fit within the typical norms…there are cats with HIV, horses who can’t see, orphans of all shapes and sizes all taken in with unconditional love.

In the “cat house”, there is lots of lounging going on.  Kitties asleep in boxes, bins, and even up in the rafters – you never know where you’ll find one!

Injured birds also live here in safety and comfort. From common doves to blind barn owls to the elusive and sacred Hawaiian pueo owl…   

Everyone seems friendly – so much more than I would have imagined for two acres housing nearly 500 animals! Feeding this menagerie costs over $20,000 a month and the 14 regular volunteers understand its all about acceptance. 

The East Maui Animal Refuge (EMAR) is a no-kill, all volunteer run, non profit, rehabilitation sanctuary for injured and orphaned animals who would otherwise die. The Boo Boo Zoo could use your help. Please see their website for more information and sponsorship opportunities. 

“Nature’s loss is our gain” is the motto of this wonderful place.

As we reluctantly have to leave, we’re told that the cats snuggle with injured deer and baby goats, while hens lay eggs and hatch chicks with the kittens – it seems no one has told them they’re different.

“The animals are a model of peaceful coexistence that puts many human societies to shame.” – Rita Goldman

Here everyone is loved without boundaries. Seems like a good lesson for us all. 🙂



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