Animal Sanctuary Pen Pals Program Connects Kids With Cows, Pigs and More

Kids can become pen pals with a sparkle-loving turkey, a cuddly cow, and more four-legged friends thanks to a new program from Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal sanctuary in Washington.

Pasado’s Pen Pals connects kids with some of their animal residents. Options include Heart the pig, Smudge the goat, and Blue the cow.

How it works: kids choose an animal from Pasado’s pen pal list and write them a letter. In return, they’ll receive a written letter from their pen pal, along with a sticker or two and a photo of the animal. The animal will thank them for writing and talk a bit about their day.

“When shelter-in-place and other restrictions were implemented, we needed to get creative on how we could still reach children and teach them what animal compassion and kindness is all about,” Wendy Ogunsemore, communications director of Pasado’s Safe Haven, tells PEOPLE. “Our hope is that the Pasado’s Pen Pal program helps kids continue to feel connected to the animals and excited about learning, even while staying at home.”

Pasado’s has received nearly 50 letters just this week, she adds.

Each animal has a fun bio on Pasado’s website, too, so kids can learn more about their pen pals.

Smudge writes that he likes to spend his days “relaxing in the sunshine, thinking about important issues like wildflowers, unicorns, and world peace” and “would love to talk to you about these things if you choose me to be your pen pal.”

Families can also check out a guided virtual tour to learn more about the more than 200 animals living at the sanctuary.