Each face has a story to tell, animal or human. At Chenoa Manor Animal Sanctuary in the bucolic town of Avondale, Pennsylvania, there are more than 200 animals who have incredible stories, all rescued from some type of danger, abuse or neglect.
Founded by Dr. Rob Teti, a vegan veterinarian, the 25 acre sanctuary was named Chenoa Manor based on the Native American word ”chenoa,” meaning white dove. What an apropos name for a place that brings peace to former factory-farmed animals and others saved from lives of torment, terror or just bad luck. Operating on a shoestring budget, the work in caring for these animals is provided by volunteers. No one draws a salary. The work is done from a place of love and concern for all God’s creatures.
Having attended the quarterly tour at Chenoa Manor a couple weeks ago, I was enthralled with the happiness and confidence each animal exhibited toward the visitors. Gino the pig was super-curious at the arrival of new humans. He accepted pets and friendly smiles from us, although in retrospect, I think he was searching for any extra food he could scrounge up. This was made obvious when he stretched his snout under the fence and grabbed a bag of carrots brought by the group.
Nigel the goat made fast friends with a young teenage girl. She nicknamed him “half and half” for his black and white coloring. She left with the intent to donate to his care, saying she was so touched by the connection they instantly made with each other.
Have You Ever Attended a Pig Funeral?
I hear one of the most touching and emotional stories I’ve ever heard about animals that day. Several years ago, one of the porcine members, a pig named Amos, was not doing so well. He was expected to die and Dr. Teti and some others went to the pig area to observe him and determine if Amos should be euthanized to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.
Amos did it his way; he stopped breathing shortly after their arrival. Dr. Teti and the group were sitting a short distance away when the most amazing thing happened. All the other pigs who lived with Amos and knew him so well moseyed over to pay their respects.
First came Eli, the oldest and largest of the porcine family. He very slowly put his snout down at Amos’s head and continued sniffing the entire length of Amos’s body. All the other pigs were lined up awaiting their turn. Betty was second; she took the same care as Eli did and slowly walked away.
Each of the pigs performed this ritual in order of their pack status. The youngest, Sebastian, and the newest member of the clan, had lived at Chenoa Manor only a couple of weeks at that time. He was more animated in the procedure than the others, presumably because he knew Amos for the shortest amount of time.
When Sebastian bopped away from Amos, all nine pigs walked in a perfect line to the southwest corner of the pasture and formed a perfect circle. They all laid down and remained quiet and still for approximately 15 minutes. At which time they all stood up for about 20 to 30 seconds and left. They resumed their normal activities like it was any other day. What a remarkable grieving process. Humans: take note.
Next page: Read some of the personal stories.
Their Personal Stories
Chenoa Manor is home to many farm animals like cows, pigs, horses, goats, sheep, chickens and turkeys. It also homes and protects other animals like a macaw called Amelia who can no longer fly and a Sulcata tortoise named Isaac, who was surrendered by his person who was deployed to the Middle East. No domestic pets like cats and dogs are taken in at Chenoa, only farm animals and exotics.
Here are some of their stories.
Hernando: He was described by the Maryland rescue group who contacted Chenoa Manor as a “big farm pig… huge!” Upon arriving in Maryland for pick up, it turns out he was a shy, adult pot-bellied pig. Chenoa already had two pot-bellied divas, Gladys and Margot, and there was concern about Hernando fitting in with their clique. Dr. Teti agreed to take Hernando temporarily and try to find a rescue that could handle him.
During his quarantine, Hernando enjoyed lying at the fence and cozying up with Gladys. Since no other rescue had room for him, it was decided he would mingle with the diva sisters and see how things went. Shortly thereafter, the “three little pigs” became close friends and shared the wealth.
Dr. Teti describes Hernando as a “spotted hurricane” because he “blows through everything in his path” in his search for food and adventure. With an insatiable appetite and morbid curiosity, Hernando will leave no pail unturned or feed sack unchewed attempting to find just one more morsel of food! He’ll even snatch up a veggie or two that the rabbits have overlooked.
Isaac: This unusual and beautiful Sulcata tortoise was surrendered to a reptile rescue group by his human when he deployed overseas. Sulcatas are native to northern Africa and have specific dietary requirements.
The large pyramids on his back are actually a sign of Metabolic Bone disease resulting from his inappropriate diet. The good news is Isaac’s disease is reversing with adequate nutrition.
Isaac is a sociable fellow who spends his day exploring the farm. He goes anywhere and everywhere his little legs carry him. He’s not afraid to walk amongst the smallest or largest of animals at Chenoa. He was very patient with all the tourists who bent down to pet him and get a look in his attentive and curious eyes.
Gladys: Believe it or not, Gladys is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. She was found tethered to the front porch on a Louisiana house that was flooded. She has come to love Chenoa Manor and with her southern belle charm has made quite the impression on her fellow farm mates.
Not only does she bat those beautiful long eyelashes, Gladys is said to have a southern girl grunt! You can give her food and you can rub her belly but her heart belongs to Hernando…
Jamar and Casper: Casper the cow was mourning the loss of his three bovine buddies for such a long time that he was in danger of starving to death. He wouldn’t eat or interact with anyone, animal or human, and spent his days in isolation from his surroundings. The only thing he would do is lay down.
Chenoa was fortunate to take in another cow, named Jamar, right about that time. Jamar is a young and rambunctious fellow who was determined to get Casper out of his mourning period.
Like any youngster who is new to a group, he looked to Casper to teach him the ropes. Jamar wasn’t deterred by Casper’s lack of interest. He just kept on going up to Casper and demanding his advice. The two are now inseparable. With a new purpose in life, Casper has joined the living once again. And Jamar will lick any hand that reaches out to him!
Phoebe: This adorable rabbit lives in a burrowed warren created by all the bunny rabbits at Chenoa. Rabbits are most likely used at laboratories for cruel experiments and many, like Phoebe, have found their way to Chenoa from those conditions. Some are abandoned at shelters, especially after Easter when families no longer commit to caring for a furry rabbit. Some are still bred for food or fur.
Phoebe and her fellow bundles of fluff now have the opportunity to live out their lives doing what comes naturally to rabbits: digging, gnawing and chewing to their heart’s content.
Abner: Abner was raised as part of a university agriculture course in animal handling. The student who helped care for Abner was distraught when he learned the pig would be going to market (slaughter). The communications major took this one credit course because he only needed one more credit to complete his degree and graduate.
After offering to buy Abner in an attempt to prevent the pig from becoming bacon, the student was turned down flat. He was allowed to go to market and bid on Abner but that was no guarantee Abner would be saved. In a twist of fate over the dates Abner was to be shipped out, the student was allowed to load Abner in a truck and brought him directly to Chenoa Manor. Read the entire story here.
“With a little nudging and a lot of encouragement, we were able to persuade Abner to jump out of the van and into freedom,” wrote the student. Abner now enjoys his forever home and is friendly with the other creatures at Chenoa.
Amelia: Have you heard of a macaw who cannot fly? This is Amelia’s fate thanks to a neurological condition she suffers from. On her specially made perch that hangs from a tree outside near the horse pasture, Amelia gets to dance and sing and entertain herself and the other animals at Chenoa.
Amelia came to Chenoa because her humans were both diagnosed with terminal cancer and she had nowhere to go. A natural exotic beauty like Amelia garners all sorts of attention. By day, she likes the warm weather of summer and fall. At night, she hunkers down inside and entertains her fellow Chenoans.
Next page: Learn about Chenoa Manor
About Chenoa Manor
It’s not just animals who benefit from the beauty and loving so rampant at Chenoa. Another mission of Dr. Teti is to promote humane education to local teenagers through interaction and caring for the animals. The goal is “fostering a mutual sense of compassion and respect toward others.”
Recently the young men built a vegetable garden project. They plan on expanding it to help feed the animals and sell excess vegetables to local vegan restaurants. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, the teens get to experience where food comes from. They reconnect with nature and its relationship to humans, and learn compassion and empathy for the living creatures some consider nothing more than food, clothing or pets.
Some years, Chenoa Manor holds a Thanksgiving feast for the animals. Instead of eating turkey, the birds get to have their own celebration of plenty. All the animals are fed first. Afterwards, the people are served a vegan meal worthy of writing home about!
Another charming thing you see at Chenoa and some other animal sanctuaries is so many different species living and playing together. The birds walk through the pastures with horses and sheep. The tortoises have the run of the place and march to their own unique tune. The geese and the cows step over each other. Emus and goats graze the land together. It’s a little piece of heaven.
If you live near or plan to visit the general area in the future, check out tour dates. I promise you will not be disappointed.
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