On one of the most remote locations in the world, a tiny animal welfare organization is making a big splash online. Today, the nonprofit Lanai Cat Sanctuary that relies on about 15,000 visitors annually to fund its programs held its first-ever Yoga with Cats that was live-streamed from its location on Facebook Live featuring yoga instructor Anne Van Valkenburg, the wellness manager of the uber-exclusive Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort which was formerly known as the Koele Lodge. The event was held today at 11 am and the half-hour yoga session was held as a therapeutic event for the sanctuary’s 10 staff and it’s near 70,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram.
“This is a time where we are all keeping our distance and trying to find ways to keep close,” says Sanctuary Executive Director Keoni Vaughn. “We are really isolated in such a remote location and the sanctuary is completely off the grid with no electricity or Internet. So this is one way to bring everyone close and hopefully, ease some of the stress that everyone is experiencing.”
Lanai is the only Hawaiian island that is COVID-19 free.
Lanai Cat Sanctuary established a permanent location in 2009. Since then, more than 2,000 cats have been sterilized, preventing thousands of kittens from life on the streets and allowing endangered birds to thrive. In addition, the sanctuary has found homes for more than 400 cats through its adoption program. The number of cats living at the sanctuary has grown from 350 to now nearly 650 sterilized cats.
Since 2014, the outdoor size of the sanctuary has more than tripled – from 10,000 to 45,000 square-feet – which can now accommodate more than 1,000 cats. Donations from visitors and supporters have increased, enabling the expansion of a brand-new 10,000 square foot area, a 2,000 square foot senior center, and eight treatment centers. The organization operates with a mobile veterinary clinic and a medical team that flies in monthly to provide services.
The conservation-cat welfare initiative has become wildly popular with tourists in recent years attracting visitors from all over the world. Annual visitors to the sanctuary have increased from 800 in 2014 to 15,000 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to witness the animal welfare work that is being done. These visitors support Lanai’s economy and in doing so, support local families.