Saunders Country Critters Zoo/Sanctuary needs Help

WITH YOUR HELP #EVERYTHING.WILL.BE.ALRIGHT – that is what we keep hearing and repeating to ourselves, but we are struggling...the COVID-19 virus has hit us ALL extremely hard and Saunders Country Critter Zoo and Sanctuary is no exception.

Gary and I have been devoted members of the community since the 1990’s. What started as a privately owned farm has evolved over the years into a well-respected Zoo and Sanctuary that provides a safe haven for some amazing exotic animals and unusual critters.  We are located on 20 acres in the beautiful municipality of North Grenville...less than 15 minutes from the City of Ottawa limits.

Our normal operating season runs from May through early September but with the entire country in a state of emergency we don’t know when or if we will be able to open. ☹ Normally at this time of the year we are receiving phone calls and payments to book trips from schools, daycares, senior centers and for our educational camp programs. This year the only activity our reservation programs are seeing is for refunds and group cancellations for those that cannot come due to the COVID-19 virus. Understandable but extremely upsetting to us as we don’t know how we will go on…Yet, we Must… These animals NEED us! We don’t need the animals to support us, we just want to support the animals! 

Winter, in literature, is often used as a metaphor for end of life and death. We felt the pain of real life with no metaphor this winter as we lost our beloved Wilma, the donkey. She was family far before our sanctuary existed. Though she lived to a glorious 48 years old, and we know that we gave her the best life possible, this does little to dull the pain of loss of such a long-time family member. The pain cuts deeply and every time we see the spark of life extinguished, we question why we put ourselves through this. The psychological, mental and emotional toll that comes with caring for these creatures is Huge.

So, why carry on, you may ask. The answer is simple. The animals need us. Though we are privately owned, we  work with many governing agencies (entirely at our own expense)  to provide long term safe haven for animals that have been seized from inappropriate homes, many having been neglected or abused, many coming to us with physical, behavioural or medical challenges. Unlike other facilities we take in the “not so perfect animals” (in their words not ours) and provide them with a permanent home and care. Just as none of us are not perfect a lot of our animals aren’t either, usually through no fault of their own. 

Creatures such as Congo the Serval, who came to us terrified of humans, have blossomed when shown patience and love. He now will gently take food from our hands. Watching Mila, our blind Lynx grow in her confidence and explore her enclosure or seeing how well Floyd, our three-legged fox adapts to his new life- down a limb but free from pain. These creatures…their stories…their resilience and their desire to live… THIS is what fuels us. When we see how an animal’s personality can bloom, despite the hardships it has faced, it lights a fire within us, warms our hearts and gives us the strength to carry on. We OWE it them. These creatures deserve the best that we can give them and if we must sacrifice for ourselves, WE DO. Late last year, we were made aware of a large number of parrots that had been seized and were in dreadful condition. With the need for intense nutritional therapy and long-term care many of these birds faced the possibly of imminent death. We didn’t hesitate in our decision. While the chores on those long winter days would have been easier with the help of additional staff, we chose to allocate those funds instead to building a new home for 18 of these birds and provided them with the intense care that they needed.. and they have flourished. Our workdays start at 5 am and rarely end before midnight. If an animal needs care or medication through the middle of the night they get that too. This is a Lifestyle. A Passion. A Calling.



But now we need to call on you… as funds are running low and there is no open season in sight to replenish them, we’re not sleeping much, and we are seriously scared for our animals’ futures.  Times are tough and we don’t know when this will pass. We do know that not everyone is able to give at this time due to the hardships caused by the COVID-19 virus. We completely understand and we wish you to stay safe and take care of your family. However,  we are praying that there are a some of you that either know us and can help us, or that a few of you can find it in your hearts, from wherever you are, to help us to help them. Every dollar will help. Rest assured 100% of donations go directly to our animals… food and veterinary care… not to staffing. We will be forever grateful for whatever help and kindness you can share. And when the craziness of this pandemic has passed, we look forward to opening the doors to our sanctuary again and welcoming you to visit all the wonderful, funny, quirky, special and unique members of our animal family.


We are licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), a proud Associate Individual Member of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) for the last 18 years, voluntarily inspected by the Ontario Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), and all our summer camp facilitators are certified by the Canadian Wildlife Federation.



With much Love, Thanks and Gratitude

Carla and Gary Saunders 


"We should have respect for animals because it makes better human beings of us all." - Jane Goodall


 See top
  • Louise Lines 
    • $100 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
  • Debbie Trudeau 
    • $100 
    • 7 mos
  • Darin Schlingmann 
    • $5 
    • 7 mos
  • Laura Fagan 
    • $20 
    • 7 mos
See all


Carla Saunders 
Oxford Station, ON
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more