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Peoria Field Feeding

Feeding Peoria Field

Record Rains in Arizona - September 6 & 8, 2014

We have received a number of calls from supporters asking how the pigs are doing after the record rains we have been having in Tucson and Phoenix. I'm happy to say that they are all doing fine. Some have wet shelters which we are working to dry out, but after two days of intense rains this will take a while. The pigs can cope with wet carpets in their shelters since our low temperatures at night are around 75 degrees F. We are in a desert, so when it rains the washes that are dry most of the year fill with water which can rush through the Sanctuary. Pigs have enough sense to not walk into swiftly running water.

We have had a little damage such as a small section of our 6-foot fencing being partially washed out. It will require resetting a couple of the support posts and filling in with rocks and concrete so it will not wash out the next time.

Thank you for your concern and all of your support. We couldn't take care of all these pigs without you.


Ironwood Staff

Plan a Visit to the Sanctuary


Our tours are over for the season due to the hot weather. We recommend that you wait until Fall-Winter-Spring for your visit. Our tours will be starting in September. It is much more pleasant and more pigs are out and about for you to see and interact with.

Please plan ahead for your visit, particularly if you are visiting from out of state and are only here for a few days.

The best way to arrange a visit is to send us an e-mail with your preferred day to visit. We try to accommodate every one but are not always able to do so. Visits to the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary are by appointment only. We have one tour on the days we are open for visitors. These tours start at 10am in the winter and 9am in the summer. We are not available to accept visitors every day due to things like shortage of staff, monthly vet visit, trips to rescue animals, major projects or other reasons where we do not have the time or staff to show the visitors the sanctuary. A typical visit to the sanctuary takes about 2 hours, not including travel time. It is not practical to just come and look around. Our pigs are in large fields scattered over 15 acres. Your enjoyment will be much better if you are able to have a safe visit and pet some pigs.

Please go to our "Contact Us" page or click here for Directions To Ironwood

Even if you think you know how to get here I would recommend that you review the directions on our "Contact Us" page because road conditions may have changed. Do not use any mapping programs or your GPS because the data base they all use is not correct and may not be updated with the latest information. We are in a very rural area and you need to use our directions.

For those who have been here before you will be glad to know that we have had our lane graded and it is great!

Mission Statement

Pig face

The Ironwood Pig Sanctuary is dedicated to eliminating the suffering of pot bellied pigs in Arizona and surrounding states by promoting spaying and neutering, assisting owners and other sanctuaries, and providing a permanent home in a safe, nurturing environment for those that are abandoned, abused, neglected, or unwanted.

We are home to almost 600 pot bellied pigs.

Do You Want To Donate?

The Ironwood Pig Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and any donation is tax-deductable. It just takes a few minutes to make a secure donation by PayPal using your credit card. Click the donate button to make a donation. You do not need a PayPal account. If you want to make a donation in the name of another person, for a special reason like a birthday or anniversary or for a special purchase such as a 2014 calendar just describe what you want on the PayPal form. Click on the "Add Special Instructions to the Seller" and describe what you want with names and addresses if needed.

Refer to our SUPPORT page for more ways to support your Sanctuary such as sponsoring a pig, being a sustainer, getting the sanctuary credit card, or double or triple your donation by using your company's matching gift program.

Double Or Triple Your Donation

You can easily make your donation to the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary go even further if you work for a matching gift company. Many employers will double and sometimes triple their employees’ or retirees’ charitable contributions. You can also use a donation that you have made recently.

Simply request a matching gift form from the personnel department of your employer, fill it out and mail it to us with your donation or use it for one of your past donations. Your gift, with your employer’s match will go further toward taking care of the 600 pot-bellied pigs at the Sanctuary.

We have a sponsor who chose to pay her $30 a month sponsor donation this year with a $360 check for the entire year. She included a matching gift form from her employer and doubled her gift to $720!!

Another supporter either works for or is retired from AIG and her donation was matched TWO for ONE resulting in triple her donation!!

Harold makes occasional $50 donations and includes a copy of his employer’s matching gift form every time to double his gift to $100!

Some of our other supporters, like Harold, copy their employer’s matching gift form and use it every time they make a donation.

You can see if your company does matching gifts by going to the bottom of our Support page (click on Support above left) within this website. Or you can also check with your personnel department. Check it out even if you are retired from your company.

Summer Is Here!!!

Summer is finally here across the country.

Don't forget to provide a dry, cozy, shelter, shade and plenty of water for all of your pets. Even in a cold climate it can be hot in the sun! And in a hot climate it can be cold at night. So a good shelter is always appreciated by all your critters.

Best Friends' Article on the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary

Best Friends, in their News and Features page have written an article about the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary. Click on the image to the left to read the article.

Introductory Video of the Sanctuary.

Click on the link below to view an introductory video of the Sanctuary. Click the lower right hand corner of the video for full screen. Depress the escape key to return from full screen.

From the President

September, 2014

Dear Supporter,

I always love writing the letter for the September newsletter because I know with the coming of September the temperatures here will begin to dip below 100 degrees on most days. Weather is all important during the summer months. I watch the temperatures daily to decide how many additional wallows must be filled, how much afternoon watering we will need to do, if the misters must be on all day, are the air conditioners working for pigs and people and what is the level on the water tanks. The four staff members who water 5 to 6 hours a day had a hard, hot job keeping all of our pigs cool and their pools, bowls and automatic waterers clean.

This year Ben purchased and installed a large ice machine. It required buying a small building, insulating it, putting in an air conditioner then installing water and power to the building. Soon we had all the ice we needed this year to fill our ice buckets and make our towels cold to cool off our elderly pigs who now reside all over the sanctuary, not just in a few confined pens and assisted living areas. The ice maker was such a welcome change from buying and hauling bags of ice all season. Two University of Arizona students often assisted by myself and other staff, spent many hours cooling off pigs as the temperatures raged. In all fairness since our monsoon season was better this year, we had more overcast days that helped to keep us sane and functioning.

While many of us were walking the property with ice buckets, Ben and Julian were driving two four thousand gallon water trucks over rough and sometimes washed out roads to keep our water tanks full. Usually two days a week they hauled all day. The few times we got rain that filled our wallows were a welcome event that saved several thousand gallons of water.

In a hot dry desert like we live in water rules. It is the blood that surges through the veins of our pipes that run everywhere over 20 acres and keeps our pigs alive. I am certain for every sanctuary around the country the weather presents a challenge in one form or another. For us it is heat and water and for nearly six months a year that challenge is a life or death challenge that must be dealt with every day.

You help to make it possible for us to meet the challenge of caring for nearly 600 animals in an environment that is totally unnatural for them.

Mary Schanz

President and Co-Founder

Mary With Dali and Arnold

Ironwood Celebrates Thirteen Years!

Shown here are many of our first pigs five years after our opening in June of 2001. Many of you are making this journey with us and you may recognize many of them from issues past.

You may click on a picture to see a larger version.

Owen, the black pig Popeye, the black pig



June 10, 2001 we officially opened the doors of the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary. Claire and Popeye arrived that evening. Then on June 11th Misty and Tully came, June 12th Owen and Taylor, June 14th a litter of babies, June 15th Oreo came to our home and June 30th Blossom arrived along with Eddie and Flapjack. That rounded out our first month and filled the 8 pens we had constructed at that time, and the overflow went to our home and introduced me to my dear beloved Oreo.

Soon thereafter Pearl, Princess, Bubba, Mr. Pibb, Arnold, Benjamin and Oliver, Desiree, Pammy, Corky and so many others followed them. We built more pens and they were soon full, and we anxiously awaited the completion of our large 6-acre field. With a sigh of relief, our field was completed in early Oct. 2001 and we began the hard process of releasing our pigs out of the pens and into the fields. This is never an easy task since pigs sometimes fight furiously for their position in the herd, so these first few days were a prelude of what was to come and the beginning of subdividing our new large field to suit the capabilities and ages of our new family.

Princess, the black and white pig Claire, the black pig



Since those early days in 2001 so much has changed. Our facility has grown and we now have a good well and storage for 40,000 gals of water. We hope to have power by this summer, and our staff continues to grow to meet the growing needs of our pigs. A large herd of pigs arrived from Pigs*A*Lot in January of 2002, as well as a small herd of less-able pigs from there. These became our East and West fields. Ben, Donna, and I had volunteered there and some of those pigs, like my Wilma, were the reason Ironwood became a reality. I had come to love some of the pigs so much and as Pigs*A*Lot grew to overflowing and more calls came in to take pigs we decided the only solution was for us to open another sanctuary. Of course this was not the solution nor will it ever be. The only solution is to stop the breeding, which we try to do every time we have the opportunity.

pigs in the east field pigs in the west field

Pigs in the East field

Pigs in the West field

The years passed and more homeless pigs arrived and more field divisions were made. Nineteen arrived from a sanctuary near Phoenix and 7 from a large Florida rescue. In May of 2003 we purchased the Annex property, previously Pigs*A*Lot, where we had our beginnings, and our family grew by nearly 90 pigs. In July of 2004 St. Matilda’s was unable to continue and our family grew by 46, and in September of 2004 the final 30 pigs from Pigs*A*Lot were back home at our Annex.

pigs from St. Matilda’s More of the St. Matilda’s rescue

Pigs from St. Matilda’s

More of the St. Matilda’s rescue

We now have nearly 600 pigs living at our two facilities. We continue to take in more pigs as we find homes for others and are making every effort to keep our numbers stable. In all, over these eleven years, well over 1000 pigs have been a part of Ironwood. Many have gone on to new homes and others have lived out their lives with us. We have been happy and fortunate to provide them a safe nurturing environment for the rest of their journey. Our lives are now co-mingled and we are making the journey together.

--- Mary


Ironwood Pig Sanctuary, PO Box 35490, Tucson, AZ 85740-5490
Please e-mail when you want to visit for confirmation on the day and time and for directions to the sanctuary since we are in a remote location and GPS and mapping programs are not accurate. We generally do tours Saturday mornings at 10am in the winter and 9am in the summer. However, we generally do not do tours during our hottest months of June, July and August. We do not do tours every Saturday so you need to get a confirmation for your visit. Sometimes we can do tours on other days for out of town visitors and for other circumstances. Our Open House for 2014 is Saturday November 8th from 11AM to 3PM.


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