You're Not From Around Here, Are You?

A travel blog covering living, working, volunteering and travelling in over 90 countries

In Photos: Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa, Florida




Lion sitting in the sun

Lion taking in the sun.

Big Cat Rescue is a privately owned cat sanctuary, taking in unwanted pets or mistreated circus animals. It seems a surprising number of people decide to get a pet tiger or lion, then less surprisingly realise it’s not that easy to care for.

Many of the  animals are brought in by the owners. The less fortunate animals are pretty much left to die in backyards or even cages, until the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary is called in, often by a concerned neighbour.

Leopard in a cage

The previous owners had kept this leopard in a much smaller cage.

Many of those domesticated animals have had claws or even teeth removed so they don’t harm their inexperienced yet wary owners.

The whole sanctuary is run by volunteers, one of whom showed us round. They’re all very passionate, which leads to a lot of depressing stories of ill-treated cats.

Seeing a black panther in the bright Florida sunlight I was interested to learn they’re actually spotted, just like a leopard or cheetah, but the brown spots on black fur are barely visible most of the time.

Black panther spots

The moment I found out a black panther actually has spots.

The guides apparent favourite animals was a huge white liger, which spent most of the time we were there playing with a heavy rubber ball.

Liger playing with a red ball

It was a very strong ball!

White liger in a cage

Bored of the ball now.

One of the last cages we walked past housed a tiger that was taking a poo. One group of Americans were weirdly offended that an animal might want to relieve itself, saying “Oh don’t look kids, that’s disgusting – that shouldn’t be allowed”.  I’m guessing they don’t having animals at home.

Tiger in a cage

A little privacy please…

Whilst walking back to the main building we passed by the owner. It seems she’s very hands on, which is refreshing – she was up a ladder repairing a wire when we saw her.

They’ve got a website at with daily updates and videos. That’s also where to reserve a place on the tour. It was $29/person when we went, but seems to have gone up to $36 since then.





Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.


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