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Farm animals become 'pen pals' for children

Kids who have missed spending time with the animals at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary have been able to write them letters.

DALTON, Pa. — During the coronavirus pandemic, animals at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary are being moved from their old Mehoopany location to a 100-acre space near Dalton.

"Hardly anybody has been to this new facility, and as you can see, we're still under construction," said Indra Lahiri of the Indraloka Animal Sanctuary. 

And the animals are getting pretty lonely.

Children who have missed their social time with animals, like Duncan, the pig, have been writing them letters as part of an Animal Pen Pal Program run by Indraloka employees and volunteers.

Organizers said many children have expressed their feelings about quarantining during the pandemic.

And many want to know more about how the animals are holding up at the sanctuary.

"Why were you rescued, what happened," Lahiri said. "Some of them will write, were you abused? How are you recovering?"

Reading letters to their four-legged recipients, organizer Indra Lahiri said kids ask deep and thoughtful questions about the operations at Indraloka, and said she's touched by the obvious impressions the animals make on families who visit.

More than 200 children are already in the pen pal program, and organizers say they can still handle more.  

If you want to enroll your child, you can go online and fill out a short survey to make the experience extra special.

By providing details about your child, employees can personalize their responses.  

Lahiri said their goal is to make children feel as special as the animals feel when they receive their mail.

"So many crazy things are happening right now, and we need someplace that's just peaceful and simple and pure, and that's what these animals can do for us," she explained.  

Indraloka Animal Sanctuary is a private, charitable 501(c)(3) organization that provides "heaven on earth" for farm animals that have nowhere else to turn. Indraloka informs, inspires, and empowers the community, especially children, on how to better care for themselves and the environment while helping animals in need.