A Little Zoo of Her Own

Sanctuary director Dani Dickerson with Betty, the opossum that fueled her desire to open Little Zoo Sanctuary.

New Sanctuary for Exotic Animals Opens in Crofton 

Thanks to Netflix’s Tiger King, a documentary about the world of big cats in captivity, the lives of exotic animals is a hot topic. Now Anne Arundel County has a new exotic animal sanctuary of its own. 

Little Zoo Sanctuary in Crofton has opened its doors to provide a safe home for animals. 

“Farm animals, small exotic animals and local wildlife are often exploited,” says Dani Dickerson, sanctuary director.  

Dickerson’s passion for helping animals not typically kept as pets began when she managed an exotic animal sanctuary in South Carolina. 

“I befriended Betty, an opossum who was fearful when she first arrived,” Dickerson says. “Every day, I’d put her in my lap and talk to her. She came to trust me.” 

Betty the opossum taught Dickerson about the misconceptions many have about unfamiliar animals. 

 “Opossums are thought of as pointless and terrifying creatures, which is not true,” Dickerson says. “They help control the spread of diseases, they very rarely carry rabies, and would rather play dead than be in a confrontation.” 

“They have gentle souls and can be very loving when given the chance,” Dickerson says. “With all this new information I learned from Betty, I wanted to help educate others about opossums.” 

As Dickerson watched visitors leave with a new understanding and appreciation of Betty and all opossums, Dickerson knew she’d found her passion. 

“I decided to create a place that would give a temporary—or forever—place for animals who are misunderstood and mistreated,” Dickerson says.  

“I named it Little Zoo because I was always being told I’d have a little zoo of my own one day due to my love of helping animals.” 

Most of the animals arriving at Little Zoo will be owner-surrenders or sent from local animal shelters. Each animal the sanctuary takes in will be evaluated to see if it can thrive in a home environment and be adopted out or if they will need to remain in a sanctuary setting. 

The sanctuary is being run out of Dickerson’s home, but she is looking for land in order to save farm animals, too. 

“We would appreciate the community’s help in acquiring land for the sanctuary to grow,” Dickerson says. “Right now, we can help by saving smaller exotic animals.”  

An all-volunteer organization, Little Zoo is seeking volunteers, fosters and sponsors. Go to www.littlezoosanctuary.org.