In December 2020, something special happened when Animal Rahat opened its second sanctuary in a former orchard in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. After 36 bullocks were rescued from the cruel haulage trade in Delhi—and laws prevented Animal Rahat from transporting the animals across state lines to its Sangli sanctuary in Maharashtra—the group quickly founded the Ranapur sanctuary and began providing weary bullocks with a peaceful respite.
The sanctuary is home to dozens of animals now retired from forced labor as well as a few abandoned ones who walked through the gates on their own and joined the family. The grounds have grazing areas, shade canopies, caretaker and guest quarters, and a kitchen that faces the sanctuary yard. Residents have discovered that when the window is open and someone is preparing food inside, the cook will share.
Caretakers let the animals take advantage of this thriving orchard by helping them pull down and eat the fresh mangoes, pears, and jackfruit—they also love munching on the leaves. The staff share the fruit with other animals passing by the sanctuary grounds who are still forced to work. It’s often the only delight they’ve ever received, and it gives the staff an opportunity to start a conversation with the animals’ owners about alternate methods of haulage, like mechanization.