Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary near Tampa, Florida, United States, devoted to rescuing and housing exotic felines, rehabilitating injured or orphaned native wild cats, and ending the private trade and ownership of exotic cats via educational outreach and legislation. As of August 2015, the center is home to 19 big cats and 67 small cats. Big Cat Rescue has sheltered binturongs, bobcats, caracals, civets, cougars, Geoffroy’s cats, leopards, lions, lynxes, ocelots, sand cats, servals, and tigers.
The sanctuary is located on 67 acres (27 ha) in the Citrus Park area of North Tampa. In 2014, Big Cat Rescue received over 27,000 visitors. Big Cat Rescue began operating in 1992, and bills itself as “the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats.” It is a registered 501(c) nonprofit, accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and is a member of World Animal Protection.
In October 2014, Big Cat Rescue was issued a warning by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for letting a leopard into an enclosure that was insufficiently secured for this species, which could have resulted in an escape. The warning was issued after a complaint by Vernon Yates, a trapper and director of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. Baskin responded that the cage was compliant with law when it was built.
Big Cat Rescue started on November 4, 1992. The sanctuary was previously known as Wildlife on Easy Street, which featured a bed and breakfast experience that allowed guests to spend the night with a young wild cat in their cabin. According to the sanctuary, this part of its history was a misguided effort to aid captive conservation and animal welfare of privately owned animals. The company became a nonprofit in 1995.
In January 2011, the center received attention for its rescue of “Skip”, a bobcat, who had likely been hit by a car on Florida State Road 46 and had a crushed pelvis. Fans of Skip who watched his recovery on Ustream organized on Facebook, calling themselves “Skipaholics”. These fans contributed money for cameras, cat beds, and other equipment. Skip died in September 2012.
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is an ever-growing large-animal rescue in eastern Sarasota County. Founded in 1987 by Kay Rosaire, the nonprofit sanctuary is a permanent home for dozens of exotic animals, offers placement for animals in need, and works to educate the public about animal care and conservation.
In 2015, owner Carole Baskin began campaigning for the passage of a bill in the United States Congress called The Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546) that would ban all future keeping of all large cat species in the United States, with zoos certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as certain sanctuaries, universities, wildlife rehabilitators, and traveling circuses being exempt.
Dana BTampa, Florida, United States6743Reviewed 1 week ago Feeding Tour was ExcellentThis was a really unique experience. Came very close to a number of big cats. We did the feeding tour and it lasted under an hour. Wish we had gotten more time, but it was a really special place I would visit again.Thank Dana B
In November 2014, a routine inspection performed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found more than 80 concerns and violations, mainly pertaining to poor conditions of enclosures. The inspection also noted that “All animals appeared to be healthy with food and fresh water provided. All enclosures had the proper enrichment, shelter and are maintained in sanitary conditions.” No citations or warnings were issued.
It depends on the tour you take. If you are on the Kids Tour or the Day Tour, you are walking along with up to 21 people and you have 67 acres to cover in 60-90 min. (Kids Tours 60 min) The group has plenty of time to take photos, but everyone has to stay together. You can book a Private Tour, where it is just you (or your family / friends) with a guide and can spend as much time with one cat as you like, and as you pay for. It’s all spelled out on our BigCatRescue / tickets page.