COLUMBIA - Two animal lovers have owned an animal sanctuary for 26 years admit it's "an unusual lifestyle.
D-D Farms co-owner Dale Tolentino said, "We love this, and this has been our passion and our dream to take care of animals."
Every day, he and his wife take care of the hundreds of animals on their farm.
"As we moved along, there were animals that we found that were a lot of starvation and abuses cases, and we ended up getting into the exotics, like lions and tigers," Dale said.
He said people will try to raise wild animals as house pets, but that isn't how it should be done. D-D Farms is centered around ensuring animals are raised in a wild habitat, so they can adapt more quickly when they're released.
D-D Farms only opens its farm to the public twice a year because wildlife animals aren't supposed to have too much human interaction. In their daily work, Dale and Deb Tolentino have minimal interaction with the animals.
"At a zoo, they have people coming all the time, and it stresses out the animals. Our guys are very happy here, and you can tell that when you walk in and see them. They're extremely happy because they're not stressed out," Dale Tolentino said.
The farm is a non-profit organization that receives no funding from the government. The Tolentino's live and work off donations from families and other organizations.
Their most recent event was Sept. 24. They also host an event in the spring. It's set up so families can come and bring their children to see what D-D Farms is all about.
The Tolentino's said they expect to make about $5,000 from each event, and that money is used throughout the year to run the farm and care for the animals.
"They're our life, we love them and they're more important to us than the things most people really care about," Dale Tolentino said.
Anyone who knows of any wildlife that needs rehabilitation assistance or wildlife that needs a home should visit D-D Farms website for more information.