Texas Monthly Article

Go Wild at These Seven Stellar Texas Animal Sanctuaries

By Katya Lidsky

Listen to wolves howl, rub a hog’s belly, or learn to bottle-feed a baby skunk.

Excerpt on Rowdy Girl Sanctuary:

Best sheep friends, Leo and Demarcus, with Rowdy Girl Sanctuary owner Renee King-Sonnen.

Rowdy Girl Sanctuary


Renee King-Sonnen was a meat-eater when she married a fourth-generation cattle rancher. For years, she watched a red trailer packed with cattle drive off their property, merge onto the highway, and disappear. When her husband, Tommy, roped her into bottle-feeding an orphaned calf, Renee got attached to the animal and named it Rowdy Girl. This relationship gave her the idea to raise the $36,000 needed to buy the herd from her husband so the animals wouldn’t be sent to slaughter. Now she and Tommy are vegan activists who run their sanctuary on 147 acres in Waelder, an hour east of San Antonio. Renee sings and plays guitar to the cows, five-hundred-pound hogs, goats, chickens, roosters, horses, ducks, dogs, cats, sheep, and donkeys. The couple sees their conversion from beef cattle ranchers to nonprofit sanctuary operators as the utmost expression of Texan independence. They’ve pioneered a first-of-its-kind Rancher Advocacy Program, which helps motivate ranchers to consider plant-based farming by focusing on financially viable partnerships between industries. Rowdy Girl also works regularly with Future Farmers of America and 4-H students. Public and private tours are available, and volunteer help is welcome. As for the red trailer, it’s still on the property, unused and rusting.

For the full story read article on Texas Monthly’s web site.