A Day of Learning at Big Cat Rescue

Every year during the holidays we head south to Florida, to sunny Tampa where we get to celebrate Christmas with Steve’s family with palm trees and 80 degree weather replacing pine trees and snow. Of course one of my favorite parts of our yearly Florida trip is spending time with my niece Morgan, a super fun kid who is growing up far too fast for my liking. When it came time for our girls’ day adventure we had tons of options, after all Tampa is famous for its white sand beaches and theme parks. This year, our choice was completely up to Morgan and she had one place in mind-Big Cat Rescue.

A day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.com

Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue is one of the world’s largest accredited sanctuaries for exotic cats. A leading advocate against the abuse of captive big cats, Big Cat Rescue also works tirelessly to save wild cats from extinction. These animals have been abandoned, abused, saved from being turned into fur coats, or retired from performing acts and now get to live out their lives at Big Cat Rescue where they get care,space and medical attention they deserve.

A day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.com

Our tour at Big Cat Rescue starts with a short video on the history and mission of the sanctuary as well as a few basic rules to follow to ensure the safety of both visitors and cats. Armed with headsets our guides led the group out into the sanctuary, wide paths flanked by a shady mix of palms, ferns and oaks dripping with Spanish moss that hints at how wild this part of Florida once was.

A day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.com

Big Cat Rescue is currently home to over 80 cats ranging from scrappy bobcats and sleek servals up to majestic lions, tigers and leopards. For each cat we were able to see (cats are never paraded or made to do anything they don’t want) we learned about the history of each cat and how they came to the sanctuary. Each enclosure provides lots of space, shade, places to hide and places to lounge; as well as fun enrichments like pumpkins, boxes and specially made giant cat toys(be sure to check out Big Cat Rescue’s Youtube page for just how silly these felines can get) .

A day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.comA day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.comA day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida-www.casualtravelist.com


Morgan and I had a great morning learning about and observing the beautiful cats. In addition to providing a sanctuary to these felines conservation is the other mission of Big Cat Rescue; working tirelessly to end the exotic animal trade, fight animal abuse and prevent the extinction of big cats in the wild. What I loved most about this day though was watching Morgan learn more about the world around her and how she, even a one person, can effect change in efforts she believes in.

A day of learning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa,Florida- www.casualtravelist.com

30 Comments on “A Day of Learning at Big Cat Rescue

  1. Whoa, over eighty cats?! That’s impressive! I’m visiting Florida soon, and never heard of this place! It certainly sounds awesome! The tiger is beautiful.

  2. I love animal sanctuaries. It makes me so happy to hear about organizations that are actively working to end animal cruelty (or domestication for entertainment) and doing so much. Sounds like you picked the right place to go for your big day out!
    Julie recently posted…Southern US Road Trip: Budget & ResourcesMy Profile

  3. Dear Brianna,

    Thank you for visiting with your niece and for writing up this wonderful article. I have it set to post on our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn pages today.

  4. Brianna, I’ve never heard of this non-profit sanctuary! They do incredible work, so many big Cats need this kind of help. It’s so important to teach kids about the dangers big cats face and conservation so they can make a difference to save species from extinction. My Son would absolutely love to visit this place.

  5. What a great read! Thank you for sharing this! I love Big Cat Rescue and all they are doing to end the abuse of these animals!

  6. I can’t imagine what those poor animals must have been through leading up to landing a home with the Big Cat Rescue. I truly believe that education is the key to stopping abuse and illegal animal trade.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. Glad to know Big Cat Rescue is fighting to stop animal trade and abuse. It’s saddening how humans have managed to obliterate entire species but at least these rescued felines can find safety at this sanctuary.

  8. What a cool place and I just LOVE that you guys have a special girl’s day. Those memories will last a lifetime. 🙂

  9. I personally would love to watch a big cat play with a specially made giant cat toy. Sounds terrifying and adorable all at the same time!

  10. I really like the job the sanctuary is doing providing care and a safe environment for the “cats”. A totally fun and educational activity as well.

  11. What a great article. We have actually have followed Big Cat Rescue for years now. A couple of years ago we were deciding between moving to San Diego and Florida and one of the deciding factors was volunteering at Big Cat Rescue. We ended up coming to San Diego and volunteering at Lions, Tigers and Bears up in Alpine which is still a great organization. It is so important to take care of these animals. They are in such a vulnerable place.
    Ed and Jenn Coleman recently posted…Couple at Sunset CliffsMy Profile

  12. I love Big Cat Rescue! I’ve never been to their sanctuary (hopefully someday I’ll get to meet Zabu!) but I’ve been following their Youtube channel for years now. Must be a heart-warming experience to see the rescued animals.

  13. Hi Brianna, Florida is the best place to visit with family and friends for fun. I liked all the pictures you have shared on your blog of Big Cat Rescue. I’ll visit at this place very soon. Thanks for sharing.

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