Field Trip: Butenland Animal Sanctuary

June 21st – 22nd, 2018

“The animal sanctuary movement is rapidly expanding, and represents an important dimension of activist response to human violence against non-human animals. The movement encompasses a range of different types of sanctuaries.” Donaldsen/Kymilcka

Our excursion to the Butenland Animal Sanctuary took place within the context of the seminar "Multispecies Narrations / A Curious Practice", in the summer term of 2018 at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne.

„Butenland originated on the peninsula of Butjadingen in the middle of the 19th century. Over several generations milk and cheese were produced here. At the end of the 1970s, Jan Gerdes dropped out of his teacher training and took over the family business from his parents. Jan Gerdes was the first farmer in the region to convert his farm to organic farming (according to Demeter guidelines). This meant: reduction of the herd, enlargement of the barn, abolition of tethering. The calves were now allowed to stay with their mothers for a longer period of time (as a rule they were separated shortly after birth).
        But even "organic" is not an ideal world: When a cow's milk yield decreased, she no longer became pregnant or was sick, she was slaughtered. Jan Gerdes had to realize that a truly animal-friendly husbandry that also functions economically is not possible and gave up dairy cow husbandry.
        Of the herd of 60 animals, ten remained on the farm, to which he spontaneously promised to keep them living on Butenland Farm. This was the beginning of the „cow retirement home“ Hof Butenland. Gradually more cattle were added, which could be saved from bad animal husbandry or from the butcher. In the meantime the foundation accommodates besides the cattle also pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, dogs, cats, horses and rabbits. The purpose of the foundation is laid down in the statutes and reads: "(...) to awaken love and understanding for the animal kingdom and to promote the welfare and appropriate keeping of animals through education and good example". 

Participating were: Steffen Meyn, Pascal Marcel Dreier, George Demir, Christelle Jornod, Susan Helen Miller, Biniam Graffé, Julia Jesionek, Jessica Poon, Qimeng Sun, Ute Hörner, Mathias Antlfinger

Pictures © Christelle Jornod