Ron Kagan, director of the Detroit Zoo, in a recent CNN Morgan Spurlock piece, that did a good job of raising the question as to whether zoos should exist, said when people come to a zoo they should expect to see animals “thriving.” Good term. Some years back Kagan made a very forward thinking and controversial decision. He decided zoos simply cannot provide a thriving humane home for elephants. They need to roam large areas and graze to be happy. He sent their two elephants to PAWS sanctuary in California. There is slowly growing acceptance that his view is correct.
We don’t think tigers should be in zoos for somewhat similar reasons. You see the tiger out in a spacious area. But at night they lock them up in “night houses,” typically small concrete cells. These are nocturnal animals. We do a night tour once a month at BCR. The animals are all up and about. Sometimes the zoos rotate them, so the tiger spends days in the concrete cell before it again gets out into the display area.
So is it any less cruel to keep tigers in cages than elephants?
They both roam the same areas, measured in miles, not acres or square feet, in the wild.
Elephants will let you ride them. Tigers will not.
Elephants operate in a herd to survive. Tigers do not.
Elephants require these herds for raising their single young offspring. Tiger moms do it alone; raising up to four cubs at a time.
Elephants have far more ability, due to their size and tough skin to ride out an attack on a human to affect their escape, and yet tigers escape far more often.
Elephants are grazers, so it doesn’t take a lot of mental agility to push down a tree and eat it. Tigers have to outwit their prey because their prey is faster and has the benefit of being in a herd where there are many individuals on the lookout for danger.
Don’t get me wrong. Elephants are amazing creatures and we can only begin to fathom the extent of their mental and emotional capacity.
There are those exhibitors who argue tigers are happier in cages where they get fed regularly and don’t have to deal with the challenges in the wild. This is idiotic. First, it is like saying you would rather be in prison than free because you would not have to work and you are assured meals and shelter. My better answer is this. If you want to see if they would rather live in a cage than be free, open the door and see what happens.
You must buy tickets in advance by clicking the ticket. Get your tickets through Zerve Online or Call toll free 1-888-316-5875 or 212-209-3370 (int’l callers)
Even an animal that has powerful muscles, sharp teeth and deadly claws sometimes needs rescuing!
Take a Day Tour of Big Cat Rescue to see the home of more about 100 lions, tigers, leopards and more that have been saved from abuse and abandonment, and find out how they are given the care and shelter they deserve.
On this 1.5 hour walking tour, don’t be surprised if your heart fills with joy as you watch these playful kitties romping and socializing in their new home!
Big Cat Rescue is the world’s largest accredited sanctuary dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned exotic cats. Celebrity supporters of the work being done by BCR include Bo Derek, Harrison Ford and Leonardo DiCaprio, and more.
Confiscated from a drug raid, got too old for the circus, neglected by an owner: these are just a few of the stories of this facility’s cats. But now they can enjoy a dignified life of leisure, play and socializing at this accredited big cat sanctuary, which is one of the largest in the world!
Let your tour guide relate their tales of hardship and triumph and take you to see some of the following:
Meet a pair of frolicking leopards that leap from platform to platform in their fenced-in enclosure.
See a chirping serval rescued from a basement and enjoying the sunlight it was denied during its ordeal.
Witness the biggest and most impressive creatures in the refuge,the lions and tigers. Though they cannot be returned to the wild, discover how the sanctuary gives them the most natural existence possible!
We are a sanctuary, not a zoo, so our animals come first. We do not allow people to wander around unescorted. Our tours are all guided and provide an educational experience that includes the plight of big cats in the wild and in captivity and what you can do to save them.
These are walking tours and take about an hour and a half. If you have children under the age of 10, they can ONLY visit by attending the Kids Tour on Saturdays or Sundays.
Yes. To maximize your chances of getting the day that you prefer, please book well in advance! Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone with a Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.
Is there an age limit?
Children under 10 years old are not permitted due to the dangerous nature of this tour. Kids 10 years of age or older are welcome to attend. All attendees must purchase a full-price ticket.
Can I bring food or toys for the cats?
No, our diet is specific to their needs and we do not allow foods to be given to the cats that have not been approved by our vet and maintained under the most stringent quality controls. We do not give our cats toys that could cause harm if ingested so we do not permit toys from outside our own preselected vendors.
Can I take pictures during my tour?
YES! You are welcome to take photos and / or videos during your tour.
Do I have to stay with the group, or can I wander?
The only way to see the cats is on a guided tour, so you will not be able to wander away from the group.
Are there restrooms?
Yes, but we strongly suggest that you go before you get here because we have limited facilities and are on septic systems which cannot handle a lot of volume if there has been recent rain. There is a McDonald’s right at the corner of Easy Street.
What if it rains?
The DayTour will still go out in a light rain as long as there is no lightning. If it is thundering or pouring rain, we may try to wait it out, or will offer a refund, or rescheduling.
Can I bring my pet?
Is there a charge for parking?
Parking is always free and there is plenty of it except for our busiest times in Nov, Dec and March. During these busy times it is tight, but we will help you park at no additional fee.
Are you ADA compliant?
If you are unable to walk for two hours, we have golf carts available for $10 extra, per person riding. Our paths are dirt, so wheel chairs are hard to push, but scooters do well. There are no seats along the tour paths.
Do you offer gift certificates?
Yes! Gift certificates are available and they make perfect gifts for holidays, birthdays or any other occasion! To purchase a gift certificate please click on the “Gift Certificates: Purchase” link in the yellow box on this page: Day Tours
Do you offer private tours?
Yes! Please see the list of all activities to get more information about our Private Tours.
Non-refundable, can be rescheduled with 24 hours notice.
Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded. You may reschedule your tickets (subject to availability) only if you do so at least 24 hours in advance.
Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.
There is no smoking allowed at Big Cat Rescue.
We do not allow smoking at Big Cat Rescue, except in the parking lot.
If you have been on a Day Tour, please tell others about your experience below:
In Springwater Provincial Park near Barrie, Ontario, there’s a modest little wildlife compound (zoo) with a small, ad hoc collection of native wild animals. Recently, the Ontario government changed the Park status to non-operational meaning visitor services are no longer provided and staff are not present. That means the animals have to be moved elsewhere.
This was great news as the zoo is outdated and inadequate, and best of all, homes with better conditions have been found for all of the animals.
But now the animals are in limbo.
A number of residents in the region are campaigning for the Park to reopen under a new management arrangement and the animals seem to have become “political pawns” in the process. Some Park proponents claim the antiquated, inadequate, little zoo with its tiny animal collection is a sanctuary, a valuable educational resource, that it somehow makes the Park unique and that they need to keep it as an attraction to draw visitors (should they gain management control of the Park). We disagree.
Zoocheck and other animal welfare groups have wanted the display closed for years. The conditions are poor for many of the animals and they’ve suffered as a result.
The government recognizes that it’s time for the zoo to be dismantled and for the animals to go to more appropriate homes elsewhere, but the controversy about the Park and the animals has stalled things and the animal move is now in limbo. Whether the Park reopens or not, the animals need to be relocated.
Please send an email or letter to the Honourable David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources,email@example.com urging him to move forward with the relocation of the Springwater animals as soon as possible. Homes for the animals have been found. All that’s required is for him to give the go ahead.