Clanton man rescues animals, educates public

Published 11:50 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

By J.R. Tidwell / Editor

Serenity Animal Farm in Clanton is not your typical zoo-like setting.

While some exotic animals such as llamas, alpacas and a camel may be found on the premises, the farm differs from some similar locations in that the animals are all pets.

As such, practically every animal on the farm is capable of being pet by visitors, which gives the place a much more hands-on feel that most zoos.

“I enjoy working with animals and educating people about animals,” said Mark Bagley, who runs the farm. I enjoy giving tours of the farm. Most people don’t get to interact with the animals like you do here. If you go to a zoo it’s hands off, where here you can pet a camel, an alpaca, feed bread to the goats and the sheep and feed emus. Animals respond to how you take care of them. You can make any animal wild if you abuse it. We make pets out of everything and keep them tame.”

Bagley is originally from Indiana. He came to Alabama for work when he was 20 years old, and he has been here ever since.

He started giving a home to rescued animals in 2009, and thus Serenity Animal Farm was born.

“I had a friend who is a vet,” Bagley said. “We rescued some donkeys and some goats, and we just kind of expanded from there. Whatever people couldn’t take care of or didn’t want [we would take in]. We started putting feelers out there with the vets.

“We usually hear about animals from veterinarians. I got a call last week from an 80-year-old man in Mississippi who has some emus that he and his wife raised. They have had them for 10 years. She passed away, and he can’t take care of them now. He wants them to go to a forever home where they will be taken care of.”

According to Serenity’s website, the farm averages around 150 animals year round. Some of the more exotic animals include a camel, zebras, a coatimundi, ostriches, emus, alpacas, llamas, exotic cattle breeds and a yak.

“We go through about 15 different types of feed,” Bagley said. “We take about two hours every day to water, hay and feed all the animals. We are constantly fixing fences or mending things.”

Bagley said he rescues animals and keeps up the farm for a handful of different reasons.

“Everybody has to have a hobby,” he said. “Some guys hunt, some guys fish. We decided to rescue and raise animals.”

He also said he likes to show people around the farm and educate them on the different animal species.

“We have a lot of tours come through here with different groups,” he said. “We don’t charge anything. It’s mainly for educational purposes. A lot of these kids have never seen some of these animals. I try to teach them things, like if they see a possum. The possum is Alabama’s only marsupial, which means it carries its young in its pouch. It eats close to 5,000 ticks a year. I tell them don’t run over or kill a possum. They are one of the most beneficial animals Alabama has.

“We usually do tours after church on a Sunday afternoon. We do some on Saturdays every now and again, but Saturdays are mainly the day we go get hay or go to the feed store and work on the farm. I work in construction Monday through Friday.”

For more information on the farm or to schedule a tour visit