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First love, then animal sanctuary followed

April 8th, 2009 by Leslie - Honolulu Advertiser

Sylvan Schwab, former Chicago resident, moved to Maui in 1977. He had a degree as a photographer and was living in Malaea.

Living in the next apartment complex was his future wife, Susie. Susie, an animal lover, who introduced Sylvan to the wonderful world of animals.

One day he went over to her apartment and her parakeet flew on his shoulder. "That was love at first sight. It was my first bird experience and I thought it was the neatest thing in the world."

Susie came to Maui because she was dealing with an aggressive cancer. One of the things Sylvan did to help cheer her up was bring her sick and orphaned animals that needed her help. "That was her occupational therapy."

Since 1977, Sylvan and Susie Schwab have helped Maui's animals and that hasn't stopped even today.

In 1989, the East Maui Animal Refuge became a non-profit organization. It has become a haven for wild animals and pets that are unadoptable.


On their two acre refuge in Haiku, Maui, there's over 500 animals. You'll see a variety of deer, pigs, goats, horses, 97 cats, owls, geese, chickens, the list goes on.

EMAR is also known affectionately as the Boo-Boo Zoo. You'll see goats that can't walk after being hit by cars, cows born blind and orphans that need round-the-clock bottle feedings. Every year they take in at least 500 orphans, half of them are wildlife.


Adding to the menagerie are two resident dogs: a Great Dane that's deaf called Riley and Boots, formerly an abused dog, that's very protective of the residents.

Some people will drop off animals, but EMAR does not duplicate efforts with other rescue organizations. "Since the Maui Humane Society can't care for newborn kittens, we do it," Schwab says. "We only permanently take in cats that have life threatening situations such as feline leukemia and those that aren't adoptable."

EMAR functions on charitable donations from the public. The entire staff is made up of 24 unpaid volunteers. Sylvan, twice a week, goes to town and picks up overripe fruit and vegetable cuttings from VIP Produce and Longs Drugs to help feed the menagerie.

Their financial situation is dire. Three weeks ago, EMAR made it public they only had a few days worth of finances to survive. It costs $25,000 every month to keep the refuge running.

"Right now we are hanging there because we put out the word that we are in distress. There's been a good response. We'll never close no matter what. You can't when you have 500 animals. Financially speaking we have about enough funds to keep running for the month of April."

Sylvan says, "It gives our life a purpose. It's extraordinarily fulfilling to take in animals that would have died if we didn't step in."

Schwabs have given back the community for 30 years helping rescue animals in need. They need our help now. Please visit their website: booboozoo to make a donation. They also accept credit cards over phone at: 808-572-8308

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 at 8:53 am



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East Maui Animal Refuge - 25 Maluaina Place - Haiku, Hawaii 96708 - (808)-572-8308