(photo of Tony and Jena Mazzio by FollowThatVegan)
“Ahimsa” is the principle of nonviolence toward all living things, and Jena and Anthony (Tony) Mazzio certainly embody this principle every day. While both also working other full-time jobs, Jena and Tony run Ahimsa Acres, the sanctuary they founded only two short years ago in 2015.
According to their website, “Ahimsa Acres Sanctuary serves as a permanent refuge for animals to live out the duration of their natural lives — however long or short that may be.” Each of the animals in their care has a story, from their very first chicken resident rescued from a poultry market to the goat born on a dairy farm and taken away from his mother so people could keep her milk for themselves. However, they can all rest easy now knowing they are being well cared for and very much loved by the Mazzios.
My Ahimsa Visit
Recently, Jena graciously reached out to me to extend an invitation to visit the sanctuary. I jumped at the chance; I never pass up an opportunity to spend a day with some wonderful rescued animals! Located near Vineland, NJ, Ahimsa Acres is only a short drive from Philadelphia, making it easily accessible from our home in the Philly ‘burbs. Ant and I made the quick trip for one of Ahimsa’s seasonal monthly volunteer and visitors days.
While there, Jena and Tony led us (and a few other visitors) on a tour of the sanctuary. They allowed us ample time in each animal enclosure so that we could meet and get to know everyone. It was absolutely amazing!
Meet the Residents
Here are just a few of the many animal residents who call Ahimsa their home and who we got to know during our time there:
Rocky (pig) – Ahimsa Acres is home to “Rocky, the Miracle Pig.” This adorable little guy was rescued last year and given only a 5% chance of survival. Now, he’s thriving and enjoying life among the other sanctuary residents (including the rest of his pig gang, all named for characters in one of Tony’s favorite movies, “Rocky!”)
Apollo (pig) – Along with Rocky, we also met and spent time with Apollo. He was purchased as a “pot belly” pig but was quickly given a new home at Ahimsa when it was clear he was, in fact, a Hampshire pig (and if you didn’t know, that means he will grow to be HUGE). Extremely friendly and super sweet, Apollo couldn’t get enough of our belly rubs and would flop onto his back so that anyone nearby could pet him.
Hawk (horse) – Hawk came to Ahimsa when his owner passed away. He had severe eye issues that eventually led to the decision to have them removed. However, having no eyes does not seem to slow him down at all, and he wears a padded helmet so he doesn’t bump into things and injure himself. We had a great time feeding Hawk (and his friend, Cody) lots of apples and watching him use his keen sense of smell to know that there was always more food coming!
Ginny (goat) – Ginny was rejected by her mom at birth and rescued so that she could live out her days at Ahimsa. While Ginny is adorable, do not let her cuteness fool you for a moment. She loves to head butt! Fortunately, Ant and I avoided being on the receiving end of one of Ginny’s butts, but other visitors with us that day were not so fortunate. She is clearly the tiny leader of the goat pack here.
Anfisa (chicken) – This sweet little girl was Ahimsa’s very first resident, so she holds a special place in everyone’s hearts. She was rescued from a live poultry market by some activists and brought to Ahimsa for sanctuary. Her beak had been cut off (as is common practice so stressed birds won’t peck at each other), and it was clear that she hadn’t been treated with kindness. However, with care and lots of love, she is now enjoying in her new life!
Support the Sanctuary
There are so many ways you can support Ahimsa Acres and the wonderful work Jena and Tony are doing for these incredible animals.
Visit or volunteer – You can meet Jena, Tony and the animals at one of their upcoming volunteer or visitors day. While you’re there, you might even get to sample some amazing vegan food! Dawn Creamer Lucas, the sanctuary’s Culinary Director, often provides delicious vegan goodies to those who come by. When we visited, Dawn was serving up falafel sliders, potato salad and an incredible homemade ranch dressing. I left not only with some new friends (both human and animal) but also with some incredible recipes I can’t wait to try. Follow Dawn on Facebook and Instagram to see what she’s cooking and to keep tabs on her cafe plans, which she hopes to open soon!
Can’t make it on a scheduled date? Contact them to plan your own visit. However, I definitely recommend coming to one of their scheduled days.
Donate – Ahimsa Acres always needs your help! From feeding and caring for the residents to building a new fence so they can take in more animals, donations are always needed and appreciated. You could also consider purchasing something from their wish list.
Attend an event – It seems like Ahimsa always has several fundraising events scheduled, including two coming up in July: Yoga at the Sanctuary and their inaugural FarmFit 2017 fitness challenge.
Follow on social media – Be sure to visit Ahimsa Acres on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram to be kept up to date on fundraising efforts, sanctuary events, new residents and more. Plus, they post lots of adorable animal pics often!
(Rocky the Miracle Pig has his own social media, too! Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.)
Much thanks to Jena, Tony and Ahimsa Acres for inviting us to visit, giving us lots of cuddle time with the animals and providing pics for this post. We can’t wait to see you again soon!