Photo Safaris are reserved as Private Tours. You can reserve them in one hour increments, with a maximum of 3 hours, based upon availability. The following information tells you more about what to expect on your Photo Safari Private Tour and what to bring.
Big Cat Rescue is proud to offer photographers, professional and amateur alike, the opportunity to photograph 15 species and sub-species of exotic cats.
The tropical Florida climate lends itself to providing lush green backdrops and the natural landscaping of the enclosures simulates the natural habitat of the cats. A 3-acre tiger enclosure has been constructed out into a lake so that you can photograph four of our most magnificent tigers swimming, playing, and lounging at the water’s edge. South American cougars can be photographed in palmetto and oak forest settings. Asian and African leopards, both spotted and black, can be photographed in lush foliage and lounging in trees. Northern and southern bobcats live in natural wooded environments, perfect for getting priceless shots of bobcats doing bobcat things (sneaking through high grass, climbing trees, or lounging in shady spots). Other species available in beautiful natural surroundings include; servals, ocelots, caracals, Siberian lynx, lions, jungle cats, leopard cats, a Geoffroy cat and even binturongs. Look through the photos on this site under Photos and Facts to see what is available to you.
We cater to small groups.
Advance reservations and your preferred scheduling are required so that we can accommodate you. Choose to tour the sanctuary and take photographs along the way or visit specific species.
Many people visit in the winter months to escape their northern temperatures, however, by latter December, January and February the plants here have gone to brown. Florida is hot and lush with greenery from March through November. The cats are not as active in the warmer months, but sometimes it is much easier to focus on a lounging cat than a moving one.
The money generated from the Private Tour goes directly into providing large natural enclosures for the cats, and unlike many game farms, our cats live in these enclosures year round and so they are relaxed and comfortable in their surroundings.
Also, unlike most places that offer photo safaris, our animals come first. If a cat isn’t in the mood, then we move on to someone who is and will not impose on the animal. Some of our more elusive cats can be very difficult and we cannot guarantee that you will get a good photo of the Geoffroy cat, leopard cats, sand cats, etc. but we will give it our best effort.
Due to USDA regulations we must keep you outside of the 5-foot barricades around the enclosures at all times. If you have professional equipment you can focus past the 4″ x 4″ cage wire if the cat is far enough from the side of the enclosure. If you are using amateur equipment, you will have cage wire in most of your photographs. If the tigers come down to swim we have an area where you can photograph from a dock without cage wire visible and sometimes the binturongs are viewable in the trees above the wire.
* To get photos like these, you will need a tripod and long zoom lens.
- Big Cat Rescue Photo FAQ
- What is the difference between a Private Photo Tour and other tours?
- Will I have an unobstructed view of the cats?
- How much does a photo tour cost?
- How long are photo tours?
- When are photo tours offered?
- What time of year is best?
- What species of animals are there at Big Cat Rescue?
- What photo equipment should I bring and what should I wear?
- How do I make a reservation?
Big Cat Rescue Photo FAQ
What is the difference between a Private Photo Tour and other tours?
Private Photo Tours are designed for professional and serious amateur photographers who want to get great shots of the animals. The cats live in beautifully landscaped enclosures complete with trees, flowers, grass, and in some cases lakes, ponds and waterfalls. We do not “handle” the cats for photographers; instead, participants in the photo tour follow the guide around to different enclosures while we look for animals that are already “posing” for pictures. Sometimes treats are given to the animals to coax them into different areas of their enclosures. We never guarantee a shot because we don’t force any animal to do anything.
Will I have an unobstructed view of the cats?
Due to safety regulations we cannot allow you close enough to the cats to stick your lens though the 4″ x 4″ wire mesh. (Anyone who does is violating USDA guidelines, unless the cat is wired or chained down and we really hope you won’t support those kinds of places!) You and your camera must stay at least 5 feet from the side walls of the enclosures. If you have a professional zoom lens, you can often focus through the wire to the cat. If you are not using professional grade equipment, you will have cage wire in your photographs, like this image.
How much does a photo tour cost?
The Private Photo Tour costs $110 per hour for the first person and $55 per hour for each additional person whether you are photographing or just tagging along.
How long are photo tours?
The most popular amount of time for a Private Photo Tour is 2 hours. If you only want to photograph tigers or lions you could probably get some nice shots in an hour but if you want photos of some of the smaller, more elusive cats like sand cats or ocelots 3 hours might be necessary. You must make a decision on how long you would like to spend photographing the animals when you make your reservation because we have to have a set amount of time to set aside for our guides. You will have to book these in one hour increments. Just ask the Reservationist to see if you can get times that are in succession. ie: There are three, one hour slots available each day, but if someone has taken the middle slot, then we cannot book you for two consecutive spots.
When are photo tours offered?
Click the ticket above to see what days and hours are available.
What time of year is best?
During May-September it is rainy and cloudy and very hot but it is also very green and blooming with flowers at the sanctuary. From December through February it can be cold and the foliage can turn brown but it is not muddy or cloudy very often. In March and April the weather warms up and foliage begins to turn green again and the rain days are few and far between.
What species of animals are there at Big Cat Rescue?
Big Cat Rescue is home to more than a dozen species of cats and a few other animals including lions (both male and female), tigers (both orange and white), leopards (both golden and black), cougars, lynx, bobcats, caracals, servals, jungle cats, ocelots, and more. The 55-acre property is also home to many varieties of wild native Florida birds including herons, egrets, osprey, woodpeckers and cardinals and also non-native fowl such as guinea hens.
What photo equipment should I bring and what should I wear?
Big Cat Rescue is situated on 55 acres and has no paved trails so travel light. A 28-105mm zoom lens and a 75-300 or 400mm lens are both suggested. Film speeds between 200-800 work best with the shady conditions that our trees provide but 100 speed film can be used in sunny spots or with a flash. Tripods and monopods are not useful in most situations because the animals move by the time you have composed your shot. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries, film and/or memory cards.
Taking the weather into consideration, wear appropriate clothes for a nice hike including comfortable shoes, sunscreen, bug repellent and clothes you can get dirty or muddy. In the summer, rain routinely floods the walking paths throughout the sanctuary so wear shoes you can get very wet or muddy. Also, don’t wear heavy scents or perfumes because they can attract the cats.
How do I make a reservation?
You can make a Private Photo Tour reservation by clicking the ticket above.
Some of our film credits include the series Animal Planet’s Fatal Attractions, The Most X-treme Killer Cats, Sheena, The Jack Hanna Show, The Today Show, Venus Swimwear’s catalog and billboards, Home Shopping Network and these:
At right, Disney cinema photographer records leopard sounds for the animated Disney production, Dinosaurs.
Publix shot a Fall commercial here and used the Leopard Tiki Huts as a backdrop. The commercial featured Black Majik the leopard, Musfasa and Sarabi, the lions, Purrfection and Purrsistence, the Ocelots and Natasha and Willow, the Siberian Lynx.
Prices and terms subject to change without notice.
If you have taken a photo tour at Big Cat Rescue please share a link to your photo album and tell others about your experience below.