Big Cat Rescue provides an awesome service for big cats that, sadly, is more necessary now than ever. Big cats deserve to live in the wild, but there are so many in the hands of private citizens that are abused and neglected. BCR helps these animals and gives them a home for the rest of their lives, complete with plenty of food, enrichment, vet care, and love. BCR also plays an important role in advocacy for big cats, trying to help them in all areas. The world would be a much worse place without the staff and volunteers at Big Cat Rescue. I visited them in November 2014, and I wish I lived closer so I could visit over and over. To see these amazing animals is a rare treat, and to see them healthy and happy after what many of them have been through is nothing short of a miracle.
Big Cat Rescue is a non-profit that is not only working to better the lives of the cats in their care but the lives of future cats and big cats as a whole! They work with the upmost respect for these animals and put their well-being first, all while making a point of educating the public and offering their visitors with fantastic opportunities to get to know these animals and be exposed to their worlds. So, let me start by saying this: I originally signed up for a Keeper Tour in Tampa...I fell in love and decided to immediately sign-up for the next available tour! I couldn't not go again.
The hard work and devotion of the staff and volunteers at Big Cat Rescue is undeniable. Both tour guides I had were absolutely fantastic -- clearly, they loved each and every one of these cats and what they did. They were entertaining, friendly, and so passionate! Not only was it enjoyable to watch, but it was contagious. Not a single member of either tour was without a constant smile. Plus, the grounds were beautiful and clean. There was a very notable focus on making sure each cat had lots of room and that the sanctuary was just that- a sanctuary, or "retirement home", for their animals and not a zoo.
The cats were obviously well-cared for and loved; and, in return, were content with approaching our group, rubbing against their enclosures, rolling about, and playing. It was so refreshing to see! I nearly cried with excitement when a tiger (beautiful!) walked over to me and chuffed. They have an array of animals and our guides were more than happy to share personal stories about each cat and their personalities. You couldn't help but feel connected to them!
The team also makes a point of educating their visitors on issues facing big cats today. Which is really admirable! At the end of the tour, they discuss matters such as the legal sizes of cages (heart-breakingly small, especially after seeing how happy the cats are in the enclosures at Big Cat), canned hunting, and big cats as pets...and not only do they provide education, but they provide easy options for taking action and making a difference. They are currently founding a bill and have a number of signatures and co-sponsors in the US Senate and House of Representatives! They give you information on how to make a quick "Call of the Wild" or send a quick email to help support this effort. It was very motivating and spoke a lot to what they stand for: not only helping their cats, but cats globally and in the future! They make a point of caring, educating, and taking action. As our guide said: We would be happy if there came a day where we weren't needed. We're working to put ourselves out of business. Take care of big cats, keep them out of some of the situations they are legally allowed in now, and maybe they won't need to be rescued.
Overall, Big Cat Rescue is an incredible organization, really doing their best to make an impact in the lives of not only their cats but other cats. I have so much respect for them and the way they are constantly growing and working to improve themselves, too. They incorporate new research and findings into their approach with the cats and the community. It's mostly all volunteers and interns, too -- people with good hearts who love to share their knowledge, friendly smiles, and passion with others.
To finish off, I highly recommend the Day Tour but especially The Keeper Tour (such a unique experience!). Here were some highlights from my tours: making enrichment materials and then getting to watch the cats play with them (Kali the tiger really loved her spice tube!); feeding the cats 'bloodsicles' (everyone loved them, but especially Armani the Leopard, who was in the 'vacation' enclosure at the time and in a playful mood); getting to hear from not only one but two experienced keepers (I highly recommend asking the keepers what a typical day is like for them- it's fascinating!); watching Jasmine the tiger get a bath (she couldn't get enough of the water!); watching the cats work on their operant conditioning (training to help with keeping track of their health and performing hands-off checks for medical care, etc.); having Priya the tiger chuff happily at me; watching the way Sundari the Leopard reacted to seeing her favorite keeper (when our tour guide approached, she started making so many happy noises and rolling about); and, of course, simply learning and getting to go back and make the Call of the Wild myself.
I love Big Cat Rescue -- from their cats to the work they're doing to the volunteers, staff, and interns. Please consider supporting this organization!
This was an amazingly compassionate rescue. The care for these poor abused creatures was heartwarming. The facility was immaculate.
We enjoyed seeing and hearing the stories about the cats.would have liked a smaller group to travel around with.was there a few years ago and had just 6 of us and it was more enjoyable.
Even though it was a rainy day for our tour...it was wonderful! They do amazing things ...good work!
What an incredible place!! Do not miss this gem if you are anywhere near Tampa, FL. My boys and I love all animals and wild big cats in particular. We got a private tour with Barbara to see how these magnificent animals were rescued and now live in natural, safe, and loving habitats and environments where they are appreciated and honored. What a great treat and I will be a lifelong supporter and advocate!!
We toured Big Cat Rescue with a very knowledgeable guide. The animals are beautiful and so well cared for. It was an amazing experience! This non-profit is all about their cats and all monies taken in goes toward their care. I can highly recommend this
My husband and I did the regular day tour for his birthday. I loved the message/mission of the Big Cat Sanctuary. They are a real sanctuary that acts as a retirement home for abused big cats. Some of the cats were previously kept as pets from the exotic pet trade, some were bred for hopes of domestication, some were from circuses, some were from cub-petting tourist facilities, etc. They educate the guests on the inhumane treatment of big cats in all these situations and more.
These people don't just rescue big cats from horrible situations, they walk the walk as well. They are actively involved in trying to get legislation passed(federal) that would stop breeding, importing and personal ownership of these endangered and dangerous felines. Despite the oft heard cry of "its my right", it ISN'T our right to own or abuse these creatures. I'm sorry I can only see them in zoos and rescues, but humanity is trying its damnedest to kill them all off! Big Cat Rescue shows on its tours that there can be some happy endings, and their knowledge and care are treasures.
Wonderful charity. They truly care about these beautiful animals and give them the chance to enjoy their lives in a safe and thriving environment. They also spread awareness about how to protect the cats and prevent acts that lead to abuse. Thankful that such a place exists and they have a new lifetime supporter in me. Thanks Big Cat Rescue for all that you do!
The tours are very organized and move along promptly. The portable system they use to tell the stories of their cats is unique and worked well (although I had an issue getting the earpiece to stay in place at times). The tour is informative, but sad, as almost all the cats had previously been abused/neglected. But it's good to see them being well cared for now! The trails are easy to walk on, the place is clean & well-maintained (as well as an outdoor place can be). The gift shop/tour start building is nice (clean restrooms!). The gift shop isn't overpriced like some places. We had a good time!
For obvious reasons I wish there wasn't a need for a sanctuary like this, but since there is those fabulous cats couldn't have found a better one!!! Kudos to Carol, the staff, volunteers and interns!!!
What a great spot to view Big Cats! We took our 14 year old for her birthday this past weekend and did the Daytime Tour.
It was a great opportunity to learn more about the rescues at Big Cat and the stories behind each of the cats we saw. We learned the process to become a volunteer and got to see cougars, leopard, tigers, lions, bobcats, cervals and more. It was incredible.
Walking tour was about 1.5 hours and informative both from the guides and the recorded stories given via audio-boxes for the tour. The gift shop was great and reasonably priced. We'll be back!
Our guide was so informative and funny! He was able to help me and my son understand better how similar human and cat behaviors are! He clearly communicates as an expert on the subject with a great deal of enthusiasm and compassion. We had a great time and loved being in such close proximity to the cats. My son was seriously wow'd and said more than once that he is "so going to brag about this!" He even got excited at the prospect of being an intern when he's in college - AND he wants to donate his allowance to the cause!
One can get really close to the cats but still feel safe. The animals are well-treated and cared for considering it's life in captivity.
It's a terrific learning experience for adults as well as children. The tour guides are great. Very friendly and knowledgeable of the cats and respectful too.
I only wish they had installed a nice tearoom or snack shop to relax in after the tour is over.
Our first visit to BCR was in 2014 and there has been no turning back!!! I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but my life had changed forever when I came out. I don't want anyone to think this was an in your face, hard sell, guilt trip experience. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We learned some of the cats stories and about pay to play industry, the lives circus cats live, canned hunts, breeding farms and sale of body parts. It's not graffic, but eye opening. BCR tends to take the older cats or cats with medical needs, because of their on-site hospital and superb vet care. These cats have never had any control of their lives, but they run on cat time now. Unless, three is an emergency! They are fed restaurant quality meets everyday, along with a vetanary ground meat with supplements. Their cat-a-tats are designed for their comfort. Trees and platforms to climb on, dens and natural fauna and grasses to hide in. Shady spots and sunny areas to nap in. Toys and enrichments to play with and places to swim for those that do. We have done four other tours and we just attended the Wildcat Walkabout and had a Private Tour. It is wonderful to walk through the home that BCR has made for the cats. I love looking into their eyes and seeing them bright and interested. Some were in such bad shape, physically and emotionally when they came. Now their coats are shiny and they look so healthy. I truly believe they know that they are safe and loved. It is up to the cats whether to interact with the quest. Some are really shy and others love company. Andy tiger loves to show off for guest. Mon. he was in and out of the lake and attacking his red ball. He came over to chuff, moo and other tiger chatting sounds. It was nearly impossible to walk away from him. Seeing them playing warms your heart. The tours help to pay for the cats food and all of the animal care is done by a team of amazing volunteers. BCR fosters kittens for the Tampa Bay Humane Society and helps with spay and neuter of feral cats. They have a very successful Bobcat Rehab and Release Program and participate in many conversation programs. BCR is putting forth a bill that would stop the private owenership and breeding of big cats. This bill could make the need for sanctuaries obsolete. Read the BigCatAct Public Safety Act HR1818 and see if you might want to Make the Call of the Wild!!!
We just did the annual Wildcat Walkabout. What an awesome experience! We were able to walk the tour path at our own pace. It seemed crowded before the tour started, but once people started on the trail, it spread out and we were able to see the big cats up pretty close. The caretakers had provided the cats along the tour path with enrichment items, so most of them were out where you could see them playing with pumpkins and enjoying their special popsicles. I will definitely sign up for this next year!
Big Cat Rescue is a great organization that takes all injured or confiscated cats for release or forever home. Without our support, these beautiful creatures would be euthanized, a great loss for nature and mankind.
My visit to the BIG CAT RESCUE Wildcat Walkabout was phenomenal!!! Not only is the staff warm and friendly, but they go out of their way to make you feel like you are part of their very awesome world of the big cats that we all love so much!!!! My support of this sanctuary is so near and dear to my heart, and I am so glad I found them a year ago.....the work they do goes above anything I have ever seen as far as the love, care and attention they give to these animals that were rescued from horrendous conditions. Thank you BCR for all you do, we love and appreciate you!!!!