Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Sammamish Animal Sanctuary

Sammamish Animal Sanctuary is home to donkeys, alpacas, goats, horses, cows, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens and pigs. (Photos by Katie Anthony)

Sammamish Animal Sanctuary: unplugged, outdoor fun — and it’s free!

Feeling cooped up at home? Plan a visit to the farm!

It’s officially the rock bottom of winter, and I don’t know about you, but my family is getting creative. Not Pinterest creative; cabin-fever creative. 

Today I invented a game with two rules: “No fighting or Mom wins and the boys do the dishes,” and “Let’s see who can quietly read for 44 minutes while Mom is in her room with the door closed.” (In totally unrelated news, one episode of “Queer Eye” is 44 minutes.)

This is not sustainable. We need family-time inspiration.

If you’re like us, I’ve got a scoop for you. It’s the Sammamish Animal Sanctuary, and this place has everything: rescued farm animals, hands-on experiences, unplugged family bonding, and free admission! 

Diane Gockel accidentally started the sanctuary when she rescued some farm animals and put them in the pasture in her front yard in Sammamish. Neighbors started coming by to visit, and Diane started rescuing more animals. And one day, about eight years ago, the Sammamish Animal Sanctuary was officially born. 

“We just provide animals to kids and kids to animals,” says Diane. “I want kids to unplug and experience something noncompetitive, a healing one-on-one connection with animals.” 

One of Diane’s favorite memories includes meeting a little girl who was struggling with reading in school. She began to bring books to the sanctuary and read to miniature horses. “They’d just stand there and listen,” Diane remembers. 

When you arrive, you’ll still feel like a neighbor stopping by to visit, both Diane and her rescue family of donkeys, alpacas, goats (both standard and miniature), horses, cows, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, and pigs. 

Sammamish Animal Sanctuary

A few tips for a successful visit to the sanctuary: 

  • Make a reservation online. Reservations are required and are available in two-hour blocks Friday thru Sunday. 
  • Admission is free, but animal care is not. Consider making a donation to the sanctuary. 100% of donations go to the care and feeding of the animals. 
  • Remember, visiting an animal sanctuary is an outdoor sport, so dress for the weather and wear mucky boots. 
  • Bring baby carrots or lettuce and feed miniature goats and horses, or purchase baggies of veggie treats for a small donation.

If you fall in love like my kids have, keep an eye out for summer camps (ages 4-11). Registration opens in February. Campers go home muddy and happy, and the camps sell out every year. The sanctuary is also looking for volunteers (ages 13+) to help run summer camps. 

In exciting news, this summer the Sammamish Animal Sanctuary will move to a larger facility on May Valley Road, only 15 minutes from their current location. The new property has a large barn, an arena, and greater capacity for camps, parties, and events.


More in Seattle’s Child:

More farms and petting zoos around the Seattle area

Search for events and activities in our calendar


About the Author

Katie Anthony

Katie Anthony writes about feminism and family at KatyKatiKate. She lives outside Seattle with her husband and two sons.