Many of you may already be familiar with Mona, San Juan Island’s resident dromedary camel, but the word on the street is that she’s now got some stiff competition for the title of Cutest Exotic Animal on Island!

Last weekend saw the arrival of SJI’s newest community member, Mystery the zebra, as well as Mystery’s fellow rescue animals under the care of The Surf and Turf Animal Sanctuary. The cattle-ranch-turned-animal-sanctuary is relocating from Colorado to their new home off Beaverton Valley Road, where they will be keeping a large variety of rescued animals.

Jen and Tray Federici, the founders of The Surf and Turf Animal Sanctuary, began coming to the San Juans when Tray was stationed in the Seattle area for military service three years ago, and they fell in love with our island. An opportunity arose here to get their rescue animals out of the cold of Colorado and the pair seized it. They’ll be bringing just over 10 cows and calves, a few mini-donkeys, pigs, fowl, Sundance, the ostrich, and of course, Mystery, as well as whatever else comes their way.

The sanctuary will be available to take in rescues from the islands as well as the rest of the state and beyond; in fact they have already made a difference to our island animals by rescuing three turkeys that were set for slaughter. Jen has said that she really would like to network within the community and that if someone calls with an animal in need, they’ll make it happen.

That’s exactly how they ended up with our new striped friend—a man originally bought Mystery from an exotic animal auction on the East coast to be brought to a petting zoo, but as it turned out, a zebra wasn’t really petting zoo material. The man listed the animal on Craigslist and when Jen and Tray heard about her, the only interest she’d had was from a hunting ranch in Texas. The Federici’s decided they couldn’t let that be the zebra’s fate, so they took her in. Mystery is very “motherly” with the calves at the sanctuary, nuzzling and protecting them; she has become somewhat more trusting of people but is still very much a wild animal.

There’s still a lot of infrastructure that needs to be built on the property; smaller structures will be put up to weather the animals through the rest of winter, until the barn can be built in the spring. The sanctuary will be happy to take on volunteers for farm work and photographers will be welcome to stop by. They hope to be open for public tours of the sanctuary on some summer days but do want to make it clear that the sanctuary is just that, and not a petting zoo. Additionally, as soon as weather permits, they’d like to restart their sanctuary yoga classes!

So, keep an eye out for further developments from The Surf and Turf Sanctuary, Jen and Tray can’t wait to get the rest of their rescues here and hope that the community is as excited as they are to get involved.

The Surf and Turf Animal Sanctuary Facebook Page