Helena Lundblad is the founder and president of Magical Creatures of Hamakua, a sanctuary for farmed animals on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The volunteer-run sanctuary is a registered nonprofit organization and has since the opening in 2018 grown to today house 62 animals, all of which were rescued from abuse, neglect or endangering situations.
Besides caring for rescued animals, the sanctuary offers tours to the public and is also working on an outreach program to bring to school classes around the island. The goal is to inspire change in the way society views and treats animals by sharing stories and inviting people to meet the animals.
Website: Magical Creatures of Hamakua
Welcome to the Animal Professionals podcast, where our goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved. This podcast is proudly sponsored by duper dot com. Do Bert is a free platform designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only place that automates local rides in transports. Now on with our show, Elena Lim Blood is the founder and president of Magical Creatures of Hm Acqua, a sanctuary for farmed animals on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Volunteer on Sanctuary is registered nonprofit organization, which opened in 2018 and has since grown to today how 62 animals, all rescued from abuse, neglect her dangerous situations. Besides Karen for rescued animals on a daily basis, the sanctuary offers tours of the general public, and it’s also working on an outreach program for schools to bring learning and education to Children throughout the island. The goal is to inspire change in the way society views and treats animals but sharing stories and inviting people to meet the ends. Hey, Helena, Thanks for coming on today. Hi, Chris. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to have you and for you to tell us your story in your journey. And how does somebody from Sweden end up in Hawaii and American animal sanctuaries? Maybe you can start us off and just get a set story on you And how you fell into all of this off course. Yes, I did grow up in Sweden. I grew up on the countryside and sweet and I always had animals around me, but I never really knew and inform type animals until I ended up in Hawaii a few years ago. But growing up, I always had cats and dogs, and I was all into horses. I basically lived in horse stables growing up, so that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I actually went to an agriculture high school with the goal, eventually working with horses in some way. Animals were always a huge part of my life, but I know they’re ever had a sanctuary in mine. Growing up, I wasn’t even vegetarian back then. It’s how it on the way to Hawaii. It was multiple steps coming to Hawaii, and I met my husband because it’s an eight and he lived in San Diego. The time when I met him and I ended up moving to San Diego 2012 and where we rent a little house in San Diego. We were not allowed to have any animals, induces when I kind of realized what a huge impact animals in my life had and how miserable I was gonna have. Any type of animal is in my life. I was trying to steal the neighbor’s cat, tried to have them come move into our house, even though we weren’t allowed to have. And I was actually not doing too well when I could have an animal settle. So when we eventually moved out to Hawaii due to my husband’s work in 2016 we found this beautiful 13 acre property on the hammock, or coast the Big Island. And we had these pastures with if you call us in them and we knew that B. I knew that I wanted to have animals around me, but I didn’t know in which shape or form. Sure, I went to the shelter. Actually, the week after we moved here, we went and adopted two cats, sensible people speeding. We wanted that and a few months later, someone contacted me about an orphan gold. And that’s how this life started. Yes. You see this little orphan baby waas about £3 when I picked her up a couple of days old and we named her Janice, And I didn’t know at the time when I picked her up, but she was severely injured. Turned out that she had jumped through a camping fire. The people who found her were camping and I didn’t put the fire all the way out at night and sometimes during the night, she must have jumped through the fire and burn two hoops. So the day after I got her, she started limping really bad. I did tons of research. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her hopes until I found this article about sheep being trapped in a bush fire. And I saw the pictures off his sheep, and I kinda started looking more closely and started seeing other science over legs being burnt. But that’ll Janice had this dense black first you couldn’t really see her seeing me. You couldn’t see that she was burned, but too damaged older hopes and was nothing a veterinarian could do about it. He just warned me that she would lose that these two groups, they actually fell off all together for the Littles. So Janice ended up living inside the house with us for six months. Actually, she lived in the house on this issue when I started to see armed animals or other animals than the normal companion animals as the same, it was no difference between Janice in my mind now and be be the door where Joey the hat. He was just another little personality living with us. Oh, of course. Yeah. And we got to know Janice very closely. Janice was basically on my arm for three months when she started to learn to War began and I made prosthetic legs for her. And I had to tend to her lows legs every morning and every night. And we just had this amazing bond growing between us. I still see Janice as my greatest inspiration and my best friend. I told everybody my best friend is a go. Then This is three years old now, and he has tons of personality. Eventually, she did move out of the house and see the yellow bar in here and she has a companion, Rome. But she’s still my very good friend. And she’s the one who made me realize that there’s absolutely no different settle between these animals that people normally consume in eight. And animals that we choose to have us are pits and companions in the house. What a great story. No. Does she still have prosthetic legs? Or how does that work now? Yes, she does. So the first set of prosthetic legs I made myself, I didn’t know they’re sexually companies that make Prosthetic likes professionally for animals. When she was about a year, year and 1/2 maybe she got her first set of professionally made who said it flakes. And now she just received her second set because she’s growing. So you make a little mold off their leg in their stump and send them to this company, and they send you back prosthetic place. So she’s doing really great with her new legs. She can get out and around the sanctuary just like anybody else. Yeah, pretty much. She still sleeps inside. I have to take Kurt in house. No, she has a little born todo She’s like, All right, guys, I’m gonna go sleep in the house now. Ceiling. Well, I would. If it wasn’t for my husband, it would still be living. It’s like those. They don’t make great house companions. Actually, you can’t house train a belt, and it’s not fair to keep them in diapers forever. So she does very well in her little born at night. I need to take her legs off every night when she comes inside to let the air out and different robbing this stuff like that. So that’s why she sleeps inside, that she’s outside old Ace with her friend Tom. So starting with Janet. So she was kind of like one of the first residents. And then a big of you guys grow. So we have 62 animals in total. But that’s including the three cats and the doll and a few old them our pollsters. But most of them are permanent residents, So, yeah, we have a big crew here. We have 21 goats. 16 pace. Why? She was going to say you’ve got quite the variety now. Is that just kind of grown over the years as different animals needed help? Or as people came to you. I first started a sanctuary two years ago now, actually almost to the day to two years ago. And it was because our property s turn into sanctuary without me even planning for it. So I had Janice and I eventually adopted to hunting orphans, goats the whose mothers had been trapped and killed us companions for Janice now had three boats and someone needed to piglets to be false turd. And I think those people, it’s saying to senior horses needed somewhere to go. And I took Tosi and and all of a sudden I kind of had a sanction relief. So I decided to incorporate a nonprofit organization two years ago. But that year, the same year Asai incorporated, we have developed a new eruption of appearing to be guidance. I’m sure about that. And all of a sudden there were all these animals being displaced from the evacuation area, humans for evacuating, and many of them did not bring their farmed animals with them. They brought their pets with them, but horned animals were left behind. So we started organizing evac operations, armed animals and pits. Also, we would just group of people organizing volunteers to go in and help with any kind of animals that need a transportation and timber coastal resort off the bones. And all of a sudden my sanctuary grown with seven more boats and the four sheep and Greek house and the H pace. So now we were a large section, not so much of micro sanctuary anymore. Did you know how to careful? These analysts? I know you said you had some background and horses and obviously started to learn goats. But now you get cheap ce and pig and a cow’s. I mean, how did you know about learning by doing basically No. I reached out to people that knew more than me off course, and I was always very interested in learning more about these animals. But as I mentioned before, I went to this agriculture high school. Four horses back in two days, and they didn’t make us take all the farmed animal classes too. So I had a little bit of experience from cows and pigs before, but not really hands on and happy is nothing like in a textbook, right? No, exactly. But I’ve always had this connection with animals. It doesn’t really matter which speeches that can kind of figure them out. So I was never comfortable around them, and that’s a good first step. And then I reached out to people who could teach me more about them and I’ll take care. Ford and the Best Way also started to look into other Farm Sanctuary’s and see if they could share some knowledge and information about these speeches. So I didn’t have been a very rapid learning her sleep learning curve, getting to know all these animals, and they’re not as much as I good about them. Nothing makes me happier. It’s something that just perfectly fitted my lifestyle and my personality, too. Careful, this animal’s Do you need a simple way to capture video of your animals, your fundraisers and your events? 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Now you’re like you said roughly two years in, and now you’re an official sanctuary with 62 residents, which has got Oh, I can only imagine with the feeding schedule. Looks like in the morning. Oh, yeah. So we started 7 a.m. every morning. We have to our feet the shift in the morning. Luckily, I have a long pier staying women. Now that has been huge release having volunteers coming to stay with us here, So they’re helping me with the feeding and the everyday care of animals. So we start every morning at seven. I start with a special needs animals. You have quite a few with special needs right now. Besides Janice and her prosthetic bakes, I have been sent us another handicap. Goat lives actually in the house. He’s a household right now. He’s paralyzed in this back. They say he’s in the future, so I put him in his wheelchair. Bring him outside. We have lying both, and you have officially carried gold and all of them. It’s my start of the day every day to take their of the special meets once on my volunteers helping with the feeding. And it takes roughly two hours every morning to get everyone pen between the shelters on do health checks, the wars. I accept that. And then we do it all over again in the evening. Same routine and also have a lunch. So we spent about five hours every day between two or three people at the time. Taken care every day need of animal. Now you guys are true sanctuary, right? These animals will live with you until their natural life at Yes, absolutely. We do not adopt out any of the animals were also not an open in take shelter. We can’t accept old animals that people are trying to give us. We’re running out of space and it wouldn’t be fair to our residence if we took on more than we could handle. Of course, we do have a few. Like I said, we do not adopt out. But sometimes we d’oh a week a poster for a short time. If someone needs, for example, humane society out here, they can’t house farmed animals posturing. The two horses that we’ve had have been Foster’s for the Humane Society, those that to pace that upholstery and this still orphan goat that we received a few days ago. She I wasn’t supposed to foster her, actually had a home lined up for her already. When someone contacted me about this open goal, I had somewhere she could go. But it turned out that she was prematurely born. She was big early, and she was snot 100% ready to be in a new home yet, So I decided to keep her until she’s stable and she’s eating well and she’s skating rate and then she would go to her permanent hole. But I’m asking passes deeper gold cyclone take in permanent residents, but I can definitely help her for the first couple of weeks, maybe to make sure she has a good life ahead of her. Yeah, no, that’s really cool that you’re able to flex your capacity just a little bit right is you send for temporary because you know what you’re capable of. And certainly you don’t want to become overwhelmed because on that defeats the purpose of what your mission is. Yeah, and it’s so easy together. Well, and it is so, so hard to say no, that’s definitely I guess all sexual owners can agree that the hardest part about running a sanctuary is to turn people away, turn animals away. It’s definitely putting a lot of stress on you. And this is where sanctuary owners feel compassion, fatigue, because you feel like you can always do more. You shouldn’t always did more issued. Stretch yourself a little bit more, but at sandal today only have that many hours, Andy, you take on too much, you’re gonna end up not being able to properly care for the ones did you already have. So it’s definitely something I struggle with, and I know other sanctuary owners also struggle with all the time. It kind of comes with the concept. Being in this field meet means this constant living with a sense of urgency. I mean, when people contact me and say I have these eight goats on this property, they’re neglected and need to go. They’re turning the water off next week. They need to go now, and I can’t take them. It’s impossible to put more animals on my little tiny piece of land, but definitely wears you out to constantly out to make these decisions and turn people away. You’re exactly right. I mean, a compassion. Fatigue is something that we have to continually be aware of. And as you pointed out, you have to learn to say no because you can end up in a situation where all of your animals will need help. I think that’s smart, that you recognize that, and it is a constant struggle, right, because we do want to do more and we do see animals in these situations. We want to help, but at same time we have to be cuteness into not fell too far down that hole. Well, the problem with this is that even though I recognize this and I don’t know this logically my brain knows it. My heart feels different ways. It’s the constant thorn off. If I don’t do anything, no one will do something. So it’s gonna be a problem for this individual animals. I know it’s true, and I know that’s what I have to do. But it’s definitely, really, really hard on me. Yeah, I totally can understand. You become emotionally attached. And one of the people that has mentioned me over the years constantly reminds me. Remember, you didn’t put them in that situation. And while your heart wants to help, you have to also be cognizant of what you’re able to take on otherwise, then you are contributing to the situation. Uh, it’s a good way to look at it, especially one day. Send you e mails, pictures, please help with this piglets just gonna turn off the images in your email, right? Exactly. So I was gonna ask you now you guys are open to the general public, so your goal is to try and help educate the public on the plate and what they can do to help. Yes, so we do tourists. Wilbur tours for the public being a sanctuary, though this is not a petting zoo or somewhere where people necessarily get to interact with animals. We always make sure that the people who come here no early on in the tour, that we have this man animals, that they may not seal of them because, well, animals doesn’t want to be around people. Most of them do, though it’s my favorite thing to do. Take people around here and introduce unfilled animals. And who wants to come up to me? I will share their story and help people where they came from. And it’s always so fun to see people connect with them and learn more. About just last week I had this young girl on a tour, and she was so fascinated with the stories, so she kept pointing at them. Like what about that? One was herself and she remembered all the names up, he said. He tells a story about loving all my love a baby again on I tell this story all over again that she was so fascinated and that’s just amazing. I do love that. That’s Ah when my favorite things to do is to have people boned and connect wait animals that they normally eat, and I’m pretty sure that I managed to sneak little seats of compassion in people’s pockets. When any very they’re not even considering having a lifestyle. They can still kind of stop thinking and start having that seed growing somewhere. And hopefully it will sprout one day. Well, it’s an appointed on him, and it’s like we all have a journey and you didn’t start out vegan vegetarian. And now you’ve evolved on your journey and your seating them, as you point out, with just that thought, right? Maybe that thought turns into something and it will lead him down the path. Absolutely. My vegan journey was I think it took me 12 years or something from first starting Thio for health reasons, cutouts, rip meat or most of the meat. Actually, I was working on my degree in public health science when I started to realize how bad meat was for Hill, and I had already issues with buying me because I wanted to know where he is came from, and I wanted to make sure he was happy. Meet. You can see the boats, but I wanted to make sure it was from animals that were raised probably so I was already struggling. I still wonder what would have happened if I was approached earlier with a different option. We’re so stuck in our habits and it’s so hard to change. And it’s so comfortable to stay where we used to be, a set up deviating outside, especially when you have family and friends that are not ready to move over to Woods begin. It took me a long time before I made it all the way over to veganism. That was about probably about the time when we moved here, probably around about the time Janice will see in the house, and I already cut out very and an old meat. I still ate some aches and fish and eventually was just ridiculous to hang on to something just because and as soon as I took that last step was such a relief to just I didn’t have to carry around that burden anymore off trying to figure out the way of consuming animal products that was in line with my moral believes that commented, business is really wearing on people, and that’s what I’m kind of hoping to do with the sanctuary to give people an opportunity to connect with animals they normally consume and start seeing them in a different way. They have a name and they have a story. This little girl will remember that Bacon. It’s actually really the pig was found on the highway, and it’s Lina wanna. You know, I love storytelling. I think that’s my way of contributing to animal. Well, for animal rights, Christians and the work that everybody’s doing now. I know one of the things you guys were starting to do is you’re starting to make an outreach program for schools. Tell me a little bit about that. So that’s a goal or dis year. Actually, we are going to reach out to schools around the island and see if we can do a presentation in classes and then have kids come out here to meet the animals afterwards and in a gentle way, introduced him to a different lifestyle. To get them to notice different animals, to see the similarities between the farmed animals and companion animals, and to teach them about, for example, how intelligent pigs are. And if we can show them how faithful and smart they are, they can also see that picks in animal agriculture are miserable. If they’re so smart and they’re stuck in this little concrete pen with no mental stimulation, then we don’t even have to say that we only have to show them how pigs prefer to live and how they have their family bones and how they play and Ruth and how the mud bathed. And then all of a sudden, you will see that this other life that most pigs have it’s probably not too quick for that. So we’re working hard on this program. We hope we can be ready to bring that out to the public, Maybe May or June, and then hopefully we can get that started. That’s something I really look forward to. So I’m curious. Is this where you thought you’d end up when you start looking back on this? I mean, it sounds like quite a journey. No, no, absolutely. No. I didn’t even know animal sanctuaries existed. We don’t have them, really. In Sweden, everything is so different and sweet, and it’s so small scale. So you don’t really realize how bad it is until you see how bad it can be. And now, looking back, I realize It’s not good, you Sweden either. It’s small, but it’s so horrible, but you can’t really see it. I never knew that there were sanctuaries, burned animals until I moved to the US until I actually moved here. So no, it was not at all in my future plans when I let Sweden those years ago. But now I don’t really understand why it wasn’t my best, but this makes a little sense. I was always the most happy around animals and doing something or others, and this case, the animals mostly, but also for people I think, animals. It’s the way off dealing with mental health issues. If you’re struggling with something, sitting with animals is definitely helping. It helps me, and it helps a lot of level of years mention metals that they see the sanctuary as a way to reconnect and just gonna find the inner peace just sitting with animals without asking the animals for anything. You just kind of threw in their presence and they will interact if they want to. And if you have a bone with them, this on mutual ground, the interaction with animals it’s really helpful. It definitely helps me when I feel overwhelmed when I’m taking on a little bit too much. Or if I have to turn someone away or we’re going through something sad at the sanctuary, then definitely sitting with them. It’s what keeps me going and what gives me energy. Yeah, it helps to remind you why you do what you do. Absolutely. Yeah, This has been really great, Elena toe speak with you today and learn more about what you’re doing. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before wrap things up? I think that was everything, certainly will make sure to link to magical creatures of home. Aqua dot org’s right, So that’s your website. And I know you said, you’re pretty active on Instagram and I know you got a Facebook page and all that, and it’s been really great to talk to you until learn your story about what you’re doing. So thanks for coming on. Thank you so much for having me. 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