Big Cat Rescue

Hear lions, tigers and leopards roar at this animal sanctuary for abandoned and abused exotic big cats.

Big Cat Rescue claims to be the world’s largest accredited animal sanctuary dedicated to rescued big cats. It provides a permanent home for abused and abandoned animals, as well as retired performing cats. There are more than 100 big cats representing no fewer than a dozen species at this 45-acre (18-hectare) site. They include lions, tigers, leopards, ocelots and cougars.

Guided tours are the only way to see the animals. You are led along a winding trail to each of the cat habitats. Observe cougars at play and take photos and videos of lions stretching out in the sun. Learn about big cat behaviors and discover how the animals were rescued from cruel conditions.

There are a variety of tour options available. These include the one-hour and half-hour day tours, and the feeding tours where you watch big cats being fed by their keepers. Join the animals for dinner during the special night tour, held on the last Friday of each month. The Kids Tour on Saturday and Sunday is the only time children under the age of 10 can visit the animals. For a full list of tour types, schedules and restrictions, visit Big Cat Rescue’s official website.

For those unable to walk for long periods of time, a limited number of golf carts are available for rent.

Big Cat Rescue started in 1992 during the owners’ search for a pet bobcat. When they came across a breeder who was primarily raising the animals for fur, they bought all 56 kittens to save them from slaughter. The sanctuary’s dual mission is to provide a good home for the animals and to educate the public about the plight of big cats in the wild and in captivity.

Big Cat Rescue is open every day except Thursday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The animal sanctuary is 15 minutes’ drive from Tampa International Airport, and approximately 75 minutes from Orlando and Walt Disney World® Resort. Parking is free.

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