The Monkey on my Back

From the moment I arrived at Black Beauty Ranch, I felt Uncle Cleveland’s spirit — his pragmatism, his joy, his expansiveness, but mostly his love. 

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Black Beauty Ranch

This week I celebrated my birthday with the perfect present — an invitation to spend two days at Cleveland Amory’s Black Beauty Ranch. As the largest animal sanctuary in the United States, the ranch is the forever home to abused and abandoned horses, donkeys, cows, camels, goats, sheep, an unexpected newborn lamb, pigs, wild boar, elands, ostriches, tigers, bobcats, chimpanzees, capuchin and macaque monkeys, two kinds of gibbons, bison, a baboon and an Asian water buffalo. The twenty-four hours I spent with these animals and their caregivers proved a gift beyond measure.

This two-part blog (today and next weekend) is the story of how the joy one person found with animals changed the world — and how reconnecting with Cleveland’s legacy has reminded me that joy is a circle that connects all of us through the giving and receiving of it.  

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