Big Cat Rescue, Tampa

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By Linda Rowlands

Posted on October 16th, 2006


We recently visited Big Cat Rescue, which is located north of Tampa and an easy drive from the Orlando area, and I can thoroughly recommend it to you for a half-day visit.

Big Cat Rescue is the world’s largest sanctuary for big cats, which have been abused, abandoned, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats Altogether the sanctuary, which is a non-profit educational organisation, is home to about 200 animals including more than 150 big cats. It offers various tours from a 1½-hour tour costing $22 to a much more in depth experience, which includes a “behind the scenes” look at the wonderful work the Big Cat Rescue does costing $100. We opted for the 1½-hour tour, which start at 9 AM and 3PM Monday to Friday, and 9.30AM, 11.30AM and 1.30PM on Saturday. One word of advice, as the enclosures are built in quite heavily wooded areas it is wise to take mosquito spray with you.

The guides who take you on the tours are all volunteers and have a wealth of experience in caring for the animals and are able to share their knowledge on how individual cats were rescued as well as interesting facts about their habitat and behaviour in the wild. We toured with a group of 10 and we were encouraged to ask questions and our tour guide proved to have a wealth of information to share. His obvious passion for the work of the sanctuary was clear and we felt that we had been given an opportunity to see such beautiful animals up close, learn more about them and our donations were helping the sanctuary, in a small way, to provide a permanent home for these unwanted wildcats. Big Cat Rescue hopes that by offering guided tours of the sanctuary and its school education programmes it will help to inform people how their behaviour and support of stronger laws can reduce the number of big cats who are abused or abandoned.

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the majestic cats and are grateful that Big Cat Rescue has not only been able to save these beautiful animals, but that they have also given them the quality of life that they deserve. We were impressed with the facility they have created and maintain so beautifully with the help of their team of trained volunteers.

Take a look at their website for more information. We have already decided on a return visit when we next visit Florida to see how some of the residents are getting on.

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