The Children’s Nature Retreat, a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine, announces its daily summer camps and animal encounters for kids ages 7-plus. There is much to see at the Retreat as 16 new animals now call the retreat home due to various situations, including two goats involved in a high school prank, an emu found on the side of the road, two fancy pigeons and a parakeet.

The sanctuary with more than 200 animals offers day camps ($195/day) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., as well as 3-day/week ($495/week) and 5-day/week ($695/week) experiences. Limited to just three children at a time from the same family or group of friends, kids (7+ years of age) will shadow the Retreat’s experienced animal keepers taking part in activities, such as feeding the tortoises, pigs, and barnyard animals, watering, giving the horses supplements, bringing animals in/out of the barn and more.

Since the start of the year, the Retreat has inherited 16 new animals – a horse whose owners fell on financial hardships and could no longer care for her, four hens whose owners moved away, an emu that was found on Japatul Road and no one has claimed him, two baby goats who were left on the doorstep of a home in El Centro, as part of a high school prank, two guinea pigs who were no longer wanted, a 6-month old lamb named Squirt, two baby ducks, and two fancy pigeons named Oliver and Marietta, along with Kevin, a parakeet.

To prepare for the new arrivals, the Retreat uses its 9,600-square-foot barn and allocates different stalls. “It takes a lot of preparation to be able to accept and accommodate new animals,” explains Agnes Barrelet, executive director. “We always try to prepare for the best outcome and know that we are building a great life for them at the Retreat.”

With the addition of the new birds, the Retreat is desperately in need of funds to build a proper aviary, estimated at $20,000. The three new fowls will join four others; the soon-to-be aviary will house a total of seven birds and will have capacity to house a few more.

Additionally, several unexpected health incidents have occurred in the last few weeks, including a rattlesnake bite to Daisy (mini horse), seizures to Athos (Great Pyrenees) that patrols the grounds at night, and a hurt beak on Donald (duck). The Retreat is requesting donations to assist with the veterinary bills to help cover the costs. The revenues from guest visits alone are not sufficient. More donations are desperately needed, especially recurring monthly donations. A monthly $10-plus donation can be made on their website. The Retreat is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; therefore, all donations are 100% tax-deductible. To donate, visit

Visits to the Retreat also help provide care and financial support to the sanctuary. The Retreat is open by appointment seven days a week, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They have also designed new family packages, such as two adults, two children for $99. They also added a senior annual membership at $119. Groups of 12+ will benefit from a 15% discount, and first responders, military personnel and teachers also receive a 10% discount.

Guests can feed barley sprouts or orchard hay through or over the fence. People can see and feed some of the 200+ domesticated livestock and exotic animals around the world – 25 different species and 70 distinct breeds. Private guided tours, up-close and personal experiences can be added to the visit as well. To make a reservation, please email or visit

Single day admission is $38 for adults and $20 for kids (children under 2-years are free); seniors (60+) are $28. Alpine residents, military, first responders, teachers and veteran families receive a 10% discount (purchase tickets at the Retreat). Parking is complimentary.

The Retreat is located at 5178 Japatul Spur in Alpine (91901). For more information, visit