Murchison – Seeing horses roam a pasture is nothing new here in the Lone Star State. Big steeds standing in green grass is always a great site. But when you realize just how great this grazing area is at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison you realize just how loved and looked after these stunning stallions are. With over 1400 acres at the Black Beauty Ranch, it’s a utopia for animals who need the perfect place to call home.
“Well, this is kind of like my dream job. Where else would you want to work than around 800 animals and 40 different species,” said the senior director of the ranch, Noelle Almrud.
This ranch might just be her sanctuary too. “If I’m having a bad day, I can go out my office door and I’ve got 40 cows over here, or I can go listen to the gibbons calling, or go talk to a tiger. They don’t talk back,” joked Noelle.
This is Noelle’s second career stint after finding out a life in finance wasn’t for her. “I was in Houston working in commercial mortgage banking, of course, in insurance. And I decided I would be happier shoveling animal poo and doing what I was doing. So I quit my job, went back to school to A&M and got a Wildlife and Fishery Sciences degree, and started off as a caregiver, shoveling animal poo,” explained Noelle.
The sanctuary got started in 1979 when author Cleveland Amory rescued over 500 burros in the Grand Canyon that were slated to be destroyed due to overpopulation. The rescue mission cost Amory half a million dollars. “Cleveland Amory always said that this place would be a place where animals could be looked after and not looked at. And we’ve taken that to heart. He was a forward thinker back in the day, as far as treating animals with respect and dignity,” expressed Noelle.
Noelle takes us on a tour of the pasture to graze at all of the roaming animals, from deer, sheep, ostriches, emu, and many more! “We are different than probably any other sanctuary in Texas. Most sanctuaries that are reputable are specialized. They’re a primate sanctuary or a big cat sanctuary. We have a little bit of everybody and we have a lot of stories to tell as to why these animals are here and how people can make better choices so that they don’t need to continue to come to sanctuary,” explained Noelle.
One of their newest residents is a tiger that’s got quite a tale! In May of 2021, the news of a tiger on the loose in Houston made national headlines. Roaming around with a rhinestone collar, residents were worried about the carnivorous cat cruising through town. Eventually the tiger was captured “When that happened, we reached out to Houston animal control, or BARC, and said, ‘If you need our help, we’re here.’ About a week later, they called us and said, ‘We’re going to be getting the tiger tonight. How soon can you get here?’ And so we were on the road 10 hours later in the early morning to go pick him up,” explained Noelle.
Noelle walked us over to meet the famous 200-pound tiger named India, and all about his diet that the sanctuary humanely obtains for this carnivore. “You do see the positive results when you give them more space and more privacy,” stated Noelle.
If seeing happy animals in a heavenly sanctuary is something you’d like to see, the Black Beauty Ranch does offer small tours very sparingly but it gives them a chance to speak for the animals. “Our main goal is to educate the public so that we don’t have to continually keep taking in these animals,” expressed Noelle.