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    35 Stories Of Animals Being Rescued To Help Brighten Your Day

    In honor of Farm Sanctuary's 35 years.

    For the uninitiated, Farm Sanctuary is an animal protection organization and the first-ever shelter for farm animals in America.

    Founded in 1986, the org has been saving the lives of countless animals for over 35 years now.

    To celebrate, let's take a look back at 35 animal rescues over the years that made an impact on not only the lives of the impacted animals, but also our society as a whole.

    1. Hilda the Sheep

    a furry cow
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: August 1986

    Hilda's story: Farm Sanctuary's co-founders first found Hilda on top of a pile of dead animals in a stockyard in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Considered a "downer" — aka animals who are considered too weak or injured to even sometimes stand up on their own — Hilda became the first-ever rescue for Farm Sanctuary and the legal action taken by the org thereafter helped to change the state's policies on farm animal cruelty forever.

    2. Liberty and Indigo (Cows)

    a calf and its mother
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: February 2020

    Liberty and Indigo's story: Believe it or not, these two cows were rescued by actor and animal rights activist Joaquin Phoenix, his mother, and the good people at Farm Sanctuary. Phoenix helped negotiate the release of a mother cow and her calf from a Los Angeles slaughterhouse. Phoenix gave them their names, Liberty and Indigo.

    He said in a statement, “Liberty and Indigo will never experience cruelty or the touch of a rough hand. My hope is, as we watch baby Indigo grow up with her mom Liberty at Farm Sanctuary, that we’ll always remember that friendships can emerge in the most unexpected places; and no matter our differences, kindness and compassion should rule everything around us.”

    Oh, and did I mention that this rescue happened just one day after Joaquin won an Oscar for Joker — you know, the one where he spoke about animal rights during his speech? Bravo!

    3. Benedict the Goat

    a goat in a wheelchair
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: October 2015

    The story: After getting a tip about neglected animals on Hudson Valley, New York, Farm Sanctuary and other rescuers arrived to find over 170 malnourished animals left to starve in the property. Farm Sanctuary rescued 2 cows, 5 calves, 4 pigs, 30 goats, and 7 sheep from the location — including Benedict, a LaMancha goat, whose perseverance and resilience after being abused and mistreated inspired so many in his lifetime.

    4. Monet and Matisse (Ducks)

    two white ducks
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: July 2012

    Matisse and Monet's story: These two peaceful ducks were brought to Farm Sanctuary after being rescued from a foie gras facility. Even though they showed signs of horrific abuse when they arrived, Monet and Matisse bonded at the farm and were able to heal alongside each other and live out the rest of their days happily.

    5. Maya the Cow

    a black and white cow
    Farm Sanctuary / Via Twitter: @FarmSanctuary

    Rescued in: December 1986

    Maya's story: Maya happens to be the first cow ever rescued by Farm Sanctuary. She was left to die in a sickly, weakened state at a dairy farm at only a few days old. The baby calf was taken in to Farm Sanctuary's grounds in New York, where she lived another 22 years at the farm and became a motherly figure to many of the abandoned calves who came to the farm.

    6. Nikki the Pig and her children

    a pig and her two piglets
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: August 2008

    The story: The flooding that occurred in Iowa back in 2008 was so torrential that many pigs in pork slaughterhouses were left to die as the waters continued to rise. Farm Sanctuary traveled there to help the pigs that were left stranded and arranged for them to be brought back to their shelter. One of these pigs is Nikki, who heroically gave birth to her little piglets on a levee during the flooding.

    7. Bruno the Steer

    a large steer kissing a sheep
    Farm Sanctuary / Via Facebook: farmsanctuary

    Rescued in: April 2004

    Bruno's story: This gentle giant remarkably survived after falling off of a truck that was transporting him to be slaughtered. California's local animal control first picked him up and eventually sent him off to live at Farm Sanctuary.

    8. The "Subway Goats": Taylor and Reiman

    two goats
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: August 2018

    Taylor and Reiman's story: What happens when two goats escape a live market and go on the loose in Brooklyn? You get headlines like "2 'baaaaad' goats loose on Brooklyn subway tracks" and "Greatest (story) of All Time." After exploring Brooklyn via train tracks, the pair was ultimately rescued by none other than Jon Stewart and the good folks at Farm Sanctuary.

    9. Maxine the Cow

    a cow in the grass
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: September 2007

    Maxine's story: This cow made headlines and gained local notoriety after she escaped the vehicle leading her to a slaughterhouse. She was first spotted on a highway in Queens, New York, and was chased throughout neighborhoods in Queens before authorities finally captured her in a local backyard. Farm Sanctuary drove down to the city to pick up the startled cow, who spent the rest of her life roaming the grounds of their sanctuary.

    10. Shirley the Sheep

    a close-up of a sheep
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: May 2019

    The story: Farm Sanctuary took in Shirley and 18 other sheep from a sheep farm in Kings County, California, that was accused of abuse, animal cruelty, and the starving to death of over 50 sheep. There they were rehabilitated and some moved in to permanent homes while others are still living at Farm Sanctuary today.

    11. Tilly the Chicken

    a close-up of a chicken
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: February 2012

    The story: Farm Sanctuary is one of many rescue organizations that stepped up after hearing that over 50,000 hens had been abandoned in a factory farm. They traveled to Modesto, California, and returned with over 400 hens to their property to nurture back to health. Tilly is one of them!

    12. Bruce and Evan (Baby Calves)

    a brown baby calf in the hay
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: January 2020

    Bruce and Evan's story: These sick baby calves were spared from slaughter at a beef farm (Bruce) and a dairy farm (Evan). Farm Sanctuary took in the adorable pair, and they bonded while rehabilitating at their New York Sanctuary until they could find a forever home.

    13. Cincinnati Freedom the Cow

    a white cow
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: April 2002

    Cincinnati's story: Has any other cow ever been awarded the keys to a city? Well, that's exactly what happened to Cincinnati Freedom. Her rise to local fame occurred in 2002 when she somehow jumped (perhaps climbed?!) her way over a fence that was six feet high at a slaughterhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over the next 11 days, she was able to resist being captured by traps, tranquilizers, and local residents until she was finally captured late one night. After the local zoo declined to provide a home for the cow, Farm Sanctuary stepped up to house the cow, who spent the rest of her years there.

    14. Gus and Roxy (Pigs)

    a black and white pig
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: August 2014

    Gus and Roxy's story: When a farmer in upstate New York decided that pig farming no longer aligned with his personal values, he started farming vegetables instead and sent Gus and Roxy, who had bonded together, to Farm Sanctuary. If this story sounds familiar to you, the farmer Bob Comis went on to film a documentary about the experience called The Last Pig.

    15. The "Yellville Turkeys": John, Paul, George, Ringo

    a woman holding a turkey
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: October 2017

    The Yellville Turkeys' story: There's a local tradition on Yellville, Arkansas, during their Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving called a "Turkey Drop." In this ridiculous event, live turkeys are dropped from planes and tall buildings for the townspeople to fight over (like a bouquet at a wedding, I guess?). In 2017, animal activists were able to save four turkeys from being featured in the horrifying display of humanity and were named after the Beatles.

    16. Jay the Steer

    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: August 2010

    Jay's story: When a transport truck crashed onto the road and caught fire, the 34 injured animals left inside were being transported away from the site when Jay started running. He was able to fend off the authorities for a few hours before being caught. Local animal activists helped to bring him to Farm Sanctuary, where he currently lives.

    17. George the Pig

    a pig frolicking in the flowers
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: November 2019

    George's story: George was the runt of his litter and suffered from health issues at the petting zoo where he was born. He was close to death, too weak to stand on his own, until one day a visitor of the zoo asked if she could take the pig off of the zoo's hands. He's now living at Farm Sanctuary and is a very happy, healthy, and social pig!

    18. Cyndy Lou the Chicken

    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: January 2013

    The story: Tami, Kiley, Cyndy Lou, and more than 100 other "mail order chicks" were discovered in a Washington, DC post office when the staff there noticed that an unclaimed package intended for Alabama arrived in the wrong place and had living animals inside of it. Luckily, they were turned over to Farm Sanctuary.

    19. Seymour the Water Buffalo

    a water buffalo in a field
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: July 2019

    Seymour's story: Seymour lived on a buffalo dairy farm as a pet to his owner — alongside his friend Pepper, whose calves were sold for slaughter. Eventually the pair and her calf Truffles were sent to Farm Sanctuary together, where Seymour became their first water buffalo rescue!

    20. Adriano the Sheep

    two sheep in a field
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: April 2012

    The story: In 2012, abuse allegations were swirling around a Cattaraugus County, New York farm so Farm Sanctuary traveled to the grounds to help. After arriving, they discovered sheep, chickens, and cows that were all malnourished and rescued over 60 of them — including Adriano!

    21. Julia the Pig

    a pig with three piglets
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: June 2012

    Julia's story: After hearing that a pregnant pig was being abused in a local pig factory, Farm Sanctuary was able to rescue Julia from their property. Just hours after her rescue, sweet Julia gave birth to 16 piglets and her Liza, Maggie, Bella, Bathesheba, and Betty are all happily living in Farm Sanctuary's New York shelter.

    22. Earl and Ian (Goats)

    three goats
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: March 2016

    The story: Hundreds of animals were being held in unsafe and unsanitary conditions at a property in Cattaraugus County. It took over 50 volunteers to help remove the animals; Farm Sanctuary helped find homes for 200+ animals; others, including Earl and Ian, still live at the sanctuary.

    23. Mia the Pig

    a big spotted pig
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: January 2018

    The story: Mia comes from a Cattaraugus County rescue, where over 85 malnourished pigs were discovered. Among the pigs rescued by Farm Sanctuary were Mia and her eight surviving newborn piglets, many of whom are happily living together today.

    24. Alexander, Lawrence, and Blitzen (Calves)

    three calves running in a field
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: December 2010

    The story: Alexander, Lawrence, and Blitzen were discovered at a stockyard in a sick and struggling state because they were deemed to be "downers" — even though they were only baby calves. Farm Sanctuary rescued all three and they healed together at the New York shelters.

    25. Gloria Gaynor the Hen

    a peckish hen walking in grass
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: July 2020

    The story: Last July, there was a deadly fire at an egg farm in Pilesgrove, New Jersey. Over 230 animals survived the blaze and 40 of them arrived at Farm Sanctuary to be rehabilitated, including Gloria.

    26. Amelia the Cow

    a black cow
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: June 2018

    The story: Los Angeles activists protested outside of a local slaughterhouse until they were sued by that very same slaughterhouse for disturbing the peace. These fighters for animal rights then sought legal counsel and were able to free four cows — Jade, Juno, Frida, Amelia (above) — from their untimely death. Two of them, Amelia and Frida, now live at Farm Sanctuary

    27. Officer Cal the Sheep

    a sheep in the grass
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: March 2019

    Officer Cal's story: A NYPD police officer found a sheep abandoned and tied to a tree in a Brooklyn park. The shy animal was named after the cop and continues to live comfortably and happily at Farm Sanctuary upstate.

    28. Turpentine the Turkey

    a big turkey
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: August 2012

    Turpentine's story: This turkey was going to be slaughtered for a meal until a farmer's neighbor convinced him to allow Turpentine to live. Later on, this heroic neighbor relinquished him to Farm Sanctuary for an ~easy retirement~.

    29. Phry the Sheep

    a sheep in a barn
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: July 2019

    The story: A group of future farmer students had a change of heart about the animals that they had raised for their program: Instead of auctioning them off to be slaughtered, they turned over three goats (Bruce, Kevin, and Pam) and two sheep (Shawn and Phry, above) to Farm Sanctuary instead.

    30. Ginger the Chicken and friends

    a lot of chickens
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: September 2005

    The story: The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina also displaced an immeasurable amount of animals from their homes. Farm Sanctuary traveled to New Orleans soon after the storm had passed after hearing about the situation at hand and returned with 725 chickens left to die in a factory farm that had been destroyed in Katrina's path. There, they were nursed back to health and rehabilitated. While most of the chickens were then rehomed to suitable places, over 200 stayed at Farm Sanctuary for the rest of their lives.

    31. Bonnie the Cow

    a cow in a field
    Luke Hess / Farm Sanctuary / Via Facebook: farmsanctuary

    Rescued in: June 2018

    Bonnie's story: When Bonnie's owner died, her herd of cows was sold off to the highest bidder. However, when it came time to be transported away, Bonnie was able to escape into the woods, where she lived among the deer in the forest for some time. However, she needed food and shelter and eventually opened up to a woman in Holland, New York, who was able to win her confidence and eventually rescue her.

    32. Hercules, Nemo, and Sebastian (Goats)

    three goats in a barn
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: April 2020

    The story: In Florida, 5 rescuers collaborated with Farm Sanctuary to rescue over 113 animals from a "backyard butcher." They were able to save goats, chickens, ducks, sheep, and pigs — three of which are Hercules, Nemo, and Sebastian, who happily live in Farm Sanctuary's New York shelter.

    33. Mad Max the Hen

    a couple of hens
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: July 2020

    The story: As COVID-19 impacts farmers across the planet, many of them have had to "depopulate" their farms and slaughterhouses (which generally means killing the animals). However, a California farmer couldn't bear to seal the fate of his hens and reached out to Farm Sanctuary to help give them their freedom, including Mad Max!

    34. Sonny the Calf

    a cow jumping with legs in the air
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: July 2011

    Sonny's story: Sonny was considered to be a "downer" calf: He was malnourished, suffering, and unable to live a happy and healthy life. In 2011, he was discovered and rescued by Farm Sanctuary, where he lived the rest of his days. For more on his rescue story, you can check out the documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine.

    35. Ryan the Goose and Hemingway the Goat

    a goose and a goat
    Farm Sanctuary / Via

    Rescued in: 2014

    Ryan and Hemingway's story: These two are an amazing and unlikely pairing. Hemingway was brought to Farm Sanctuary by an anonymous source and Ryan was dropped off at an animal shelter. At Farm Sanctuary, they bonded and were able to help each other become more social with each other and others. Ryan — whose full name is Ryan Gosling, by the way — is technically a gosling...hence the fitting name!