Sanctuary visitors have room to roam with Easter bunnies

The Easter Bunny will be available for pictures alongside visitors of all ages.

The San Diego Animal Sanctuary and Farm, formally the Children’s Nature Retreat in Alpine, is celebrating Easter weekend with its Easter Egg Hunt on the farm through Sunday, April 9 starting at 11 a.m., hiding 1,000 eggs each day for kids to gather as they visit the animals in the sanctuary.

Over 20 acres of the sanctuary is home to more than 200 domesticated livestock and exotic animals from around the world providing educational interactive encounters where people can learn and foster appreciation for animals, nature, sustainable farming, and the ecosystem.

Just in time for Easter, the SDASF moved its bunnies into a new interactive enclosure for an up close and personal experience with the bunnies.

Founder and Executive Director Agnes Barrelet said the new room for the bunnies is much larger and great for the kids visiting the sanctuary.

“The kids will be able to sit on the couch, or the floor, and have the bunnies with them,” she said. “It is very interactive. We have the bunnies inside a big pen with a couch. It gives them plenty of room to hop around when we do not have any guests and not be put in cages all day.”

The former bunny room will soon be turned into a new Reptile Room where guests can see the farm’s baby tortoises, a corn snake, a bearded dragon, all who have been living in Barrelet’s house until now.

Barrelet said she decided to change the name from Children’s Nature Retreat as many guests said they hesitated to come because they did not have children with them.

“We did a survey and San Diego Animal Sanctuary and Farm was the name people liked the most,” she said. “It really reflects who we are, and it is actually working. Now we have more adults and seniors coming without any kids. This place is for everyone. I did it for the kids, but very quickly a saw that this was a healing place for adults.”

Barrelet said with more 20 inches of rain in March, there was much work to be done to get the sanctuary back to normal. The pond flooded and washed out walkways, but its maintenance team has finished the repairs and got everything looking like the farm that people know and love. She said she is extremely pleased to see that Easter weekend is supposed to be sunny and a bit warmer. But there is still so much more they want to do to make the farm a haven for the animals and a retreat for the guests.

“We still need more donations and people to come visit the farm,” she said. “We are in a microclimate and this last storm we had more than two inches of rain. It is needed and it is amazing, but whenever it rains, we do not have guests. This winter has been terrible for us. Normally we build our reserves for the summer because summer always slows down, and now we do not have any reserves. That is the scary part.”

Barrelet said the cost of the Easter Hunt is $12 plus the cost of admission, they provide the baskets, and kids are guaranteed to find a dozen eggs. She said Alpine residents get a 10% discount on admission. “And we have an Easter bunny here for photos,” she said.

Field trips are back to the farm, said Barrelet, with five held in March from various organizations, and as the weather improves, she said she hopes to see an increase in field trips.

“We host groups from home schools, charter schools, and public schools,” she said. “It is not jus schools that come on trips to the farm though. The YMCA started a series of field trips in March and are returning in June for more. When children and parents come to the Farm for field trips, they always have an amazing experience and we see many of them return, bringing the rest of the family to enjoy the Farm and our animals.”

For more information, visit www.childrensnatureretreat. org.


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