Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place

by | Feb 17, 2021

Kim Sturla—executive director of Animal Place, the 600-acre farmed animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, California she co-founded in 1989—recounts that she had been employed by a local humane society for some time before launching Animal Place, having already spent a number of years “working with and for animals.” Sturla describes how the passion and zeal to create this sanctuary propelled her and co-founder Ned Buyukmihci (a veterinary ophthalmologist and professor at UC Davis) to sell their homes and work tirelessly, while still holding down day jobs, to realize their vision. She provides the lowdown on a few of the 400 or so animals now living at Animal Place, including recent arrivals Babe and Honey, two elderly cows whose human could no longer care for them when she herself had to enter assisted care; a goat named Vincent, who had been mauled by an undetermined animal; and ten as-yet-unnamed bummer lambs–ones who are twins or triplets, but abandoned by their mothers. Sturla talks about being regularly asked to take in animals, sometimes just two or three, other times in much larger numbers, which dovetails with a discussion of Animal Place’s Rescue and Adoption Center, a 12-acre satellite location in Petaluma, California. Unlike most sanctuaries, Animal Place does regularly adopt out animals it rescues—under strict protocols for the adopters–often large numbers of chickens that have resulted from raids or hoarding cases. Sturla addresses Covid-19’s significant impact on Animal Place, not only many staffers having to work remotely, but also being forced to suspend its volunteer program, tours, and other onsite activities—but notes that a few of the ways the operation has adapted have proven effective enough that they’re likely to retain some when the pandemic is in the rear view mirror. One of those notable successes was its Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit (FACES), an all-online, multi-day symposium held last July, and she says this year’s edition is scheduled to take place Aug. 2-8. FACES is free to attend, though you are asked to register for the event. (,,


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Dr. Mike Heithaus, professor of biology at Florida International University, whom I’d invited to put in perspective the magical scene in St. Petersburg a few days prior, when nearly 200 manatees were lounging around—joined by a group of dolphins, playfully zipping in and out of their larger, more subdued counterparts. And he did offer observations on that singular sight. Additionally, because during this interview he was en route to field work he’s pursuing on alligators and bull sharks—and how those two species interact, he described that research, and some of the key findings and implications of it. (

COMEDY CORNER:  The Trailer Park Boys’  “The Kittyman Sea Shanty” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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