AR Zoo

VidPic AR instructions

First AR Zoo Opens in Tampa, FL!

The first augmented reality – virtual reality zoo in the Americas is opening at the Westfield Citrus Park mall in March 2019.  As if that weren’t enough reason to pack the kids and head on over, get this:  IT’S FREE!!!

Thanks to a collaboration by the Westfield Citrus Park Mall, VidPic AR and Big Cat Rescue you can experience lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, snow leopards, bobcats, servals, caracals, sand cats, fishing cats & other exotic wild cats like never before.

Just download the VidPic AR app in the App Store or Google Play.  It’s free, downloads fast, and doesn’t ask for your personal data.  Then point your camera at any of the gorgeous big cat posters, like the ones below, to see the cats leap off the page as they run, play, swim, eat and bathe.  Hear their sounds, see them having fun and learn what they are really like in the wild.

First VR Zoo in the Americas lion

Download the app and point your phone at the screen right now to get a preview of what you will see at the world’s first AR Zoo in the United States.

Magnificent cats like these don’t belong in cages and you don’t have to sacrifice the freedom of these wild cats to teach your family about nature any more.  Big Cat Rescue envisions a world where all wild cats live free and the first step toward that is ending the private possession of big cats.

First VR Zoo in the Americas tiger

Some zoos still say that people have to see wild cats in cages, up close, to appreciate and save them, but in the past 200 years of that methodology the big cats have only been forced to the edge of extinction.  Tigers could be gone in the wild in the next five years, so we have to embrace a new way of thinking and better ways to engage people with their natural world.  Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality experiences are far more immersive, educational and fun.

In addition to wild cats leaping off the walls in AR zoo and VR zoo, you will find 360 videos on display, on the weekends.  Put on one of our Oculus Go headsets and choose from dozens of videos of the 60 exotic cats who have been saved from fur farms, circus acts, roadside zoos, and private owners.  You will feel like you are right in the middle of the action.  In some videos you are the Keeper, handing out treats to some very happy lions, tigers and other wild cats.  In other videos you are the Big Cat Vet who is performing life saving techniques to give these cats, who can’t go free, a better quality of life.

Big Cat Rescue’s First CGI Tiger

Coming soon to this attraction will be Big Cat Rescue’s first computer generated image tiger (CGI).  As we speak this tiger is being brought to virtual life in a stunningly real forest.  Viewers will be able to experience a tiger, in a natural habitat, doing tiger things up close and purr-sonal in a way that’s never been available before.  If it’s always been your dream to stand right next to a lion or tiger, but you know that captivity is cruel, then you are going to love this new experience!

Be one of the first to see this AR Zoo because we know you will then want to share it. Meanwhile you can see and share some of Big Cat Rescue’s great big cat 360 videos at

World’s First VR Zoo

When the world’s first VR Zoo opened, it was at the Guangzhou Zoo in China.  On the first day of its opening (Jan 2018) about 20,000 visitors participated in the VR experience in the zoo. The VR enhancements to the Chinese zoo cost 3.1 million dollars.  That same year the zoo closed their circus.  This is exciting news because zoos all over the world can adopt this much more humane way of educating.  You won’t have to feel guilty about seeing wild animals in cages any more!

Read more about it at

VidPic AR instructions


World’s First AR Zoo

Opening date: March 2019

Location:  8127A in the Westfield Citrus Park mall in NW Tampa. See mall hours at

Price:  FREE

Ages:  All ages

Accessible: ADA accessible

What to bring: Bring your cell phone or tablet and a desire to see big cats having fun

Press Contact: 813-431-2720

History in the making of first AR Zoo:  In 2012 Big Cat Rescue introduced augmented reality at the Taking Action for Animals Conference in Washington, D.C. using software created by Aurasma, which sold to HP.  As the primary sponsor of the conference Big Cat Rescue’s logo was on all of the bags and badges and for those who downloaded the app, they could point their phones at the logo and play a video about the sanctuary. It was just too early for mass adoption.

At the 2019 Synapse Summit Big Cat Rescue’s founder, Carole Baskin, met up with Jeff and Ron Rudderman, the founders of VidPic AR, and it was perfect timing.  The Westfield Citrus Park mall had just offered a space for Big Cat Rescue to educate people about lions, tigers, leopards and other wild cats.  What better way to do that than bringing augmented reality to wild life?  Since the advent of the Internet it’s been Baskin’s dream to see a world where all wild cats live free.  That day is here!

More info:

We are looking for ways to make this an experience you will never forget.  If you have ideas that DO NOT INCLUDE HOLDING WILD CATS HOSTAGE we would love to hear them in the comments.  Maybe a selfie booth with a virtual big cat?  Or an intimate theater for showing big cat documentaries?  A cat cafe?  Domestic cat and kitten adoptions?  Give us your thoughts.

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