History of M.A.R.S.
Midgard Animal Rescue & Sanctuary is non-profit 501 c (3) organization.
This story began in 1984 when an 8-year-old had unconventional animals as pets. It started with a black rabbit named, “Precious”. Then it grew to peacocks, chickens, and even jaguars and cougars as cubs. As the animal family grew, so did Sasha’s collection of birds. When her family moved, the big cats had to be relinquished to a sanctuary but Sasha maintained and grew her population of birds. From 1990 to 1994, she acquired some waterfowl from an individual who had passed away. She began to care for several more animals from Texas Parks and Wildlife officers. As a teenager, she felt that what she was doing what was not only right, but also necessary, so she built more enclosures and ponds.
Sasha loved walking around the neighborhood to talk to animal owners about their animals. She would also go to the library weekly to obtain books on animals to learn more. Her love of animals merged with her passion for art and she started drawing many animals.
After high school graduation, the family moved and decided to rehome all the animals so that Sasha could further her education and pursue a career. She landed a dream job at “Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy” where she took care of falcons, owls, eagles, parrots and hawks.
In 2014 she cared for a new collection of animals, most of which, she wanted to have simply for their beauty. She continued research on animal care and connected with animal breeders, conservationists, and animal lovers. In March of 2019, she knew she wanted to start an animal rescue.
Sasha has always loved legends and myths, gods, goddesses, the stars, planets as well as the universe. These interests and passions gave her the idea for the name “Midgard Animal Rescue and Sanctuary”, affectionately known as M.A.R.S. A fun fact: the name Midgard is also known as middle earth in Norse mythology. The greeting Sasha has on her website and marketing materials, “Welcome to MARS”, is very personal. She is very frustrated that Earth is being destroyed by climate change, including global warming, and the effect it could have on animals.
Rescue efforts at MARS are focused on caring for and rehabilitating animals taken in or transported. Our sanctuary includes animals and birds that are in peril. Most of them remain in care until they are moved over to “Valhalla”, our quarantine/medical holding area. The rescue area has creative names for some of the residents – “Rabbit Alley” for our rabbits and bunnies, and “Amazon Alley”, located in the Parrot Patio. We also have “The World of Waterfowl” and “The Farm Lands.”
Due to Covid and other delays with a large-scale sanctuary setup, MARS opened on September 1, 2021. We have taken in about 200 animals into rescue and more than 100 are permanent residents in the sanctuary. We do provide boarding, adoption services with strict guidelines, information on caring for birds, poultry, and small mammals. We also care for reptiles, fish as well as plant care. Midgard strives to provide enough room for all our residents as well as plant life that is from the native lands. We also try to keep animals that are from the same continents together yet safely apart. The purpose is to create an environment that mimics the wild as much as possible. Sasha believes that people should be held accountable for animal neglect and cruelty. To help with this, she teaches and informs animal owners how to properly take care of their pets. With the amount of work to be done, Sasha starts her at 6am and doesn’t stop until all residents have been counted and put to bed, which is sometimes not until 2 a.m. This is Sasha’s true passion and the hard work that went into building her M.A.R.S. will continue so that she can provide a safe haven for animals and birds.
Sasha Sonja Wengler – Founder and Director
Sasha is an activist, artist and humanitarian. At an early age, Sasha always had a love for animals and nature which led her to establish Midgard Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, a non-profit organization.
She is an ally and supporter of the LGBTQI community and has held many pageant titles, most recently, Miss Gay Universe 2018. She received the Trans Person of the Year award in 2020… and in 2019, she was featured in Poz 100 Magazine where they recognized her work in the HIV field. Sasha is a strong advocate for the community and works at Beat Aids, where she encourages people to get tested to know their status and link them to get the care that they need.
As an artist, her artwork can be seen all across San Antonio as well as 6 states and 3 countries. Her work was commissioned by the Born This Way Foundation, The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and the International Union for the Conversation on Nature in South Africa, among many others.
She exemplifies a true humanitarian by living her truth to make a difference in the lives of others.
Sasha was honored in June 2021 as the first recipient of the Fiesta Frenzy Greg Hinojosa Humanitarian Award.