How is Big Cat Rescue different than a zoo?

The main difference between Big Cat Rescue and a zoo is our philosophy.

At Big Cat Rescue we believe it is cruel to breed a wild cat for life in prison. They belong in the wild and seeing them in cages hasn’t protected them from nearly going extinct. In fact, we believe that the practice of keeping wild cats in cages is causing their extinction because as long as people can pay $10 bucks to see a cat in a cage they aren’t going to do the hard work of protecting habitat, where they might never see one.

Zoos are in the business of showing animals for a fee, or for donations. They know that nothing drives attendance like having plenty of babies for people to gawk at, but no wild cat born in a cage can ever go free, so despite their claims of breeding “for conservation” it is really just to separate you from your money.

Some zoos make relatively small donations to work in the wild, just so they can say they support it, but if you look at the amount of money generated by zoos and the pittance that goes to protecting wild animals in the wild, their motivations become apparent.

Big Cat Rescue is investing heavily into virtual reality and 360 videos of wild cats as an alternative for zoos.   Zoos have the fanbase (people who need amusement for their kids) and the infrastructure and the goodwill of politicians to turn these sad, archaic prison cells into theaters of interactive experiences via the technology that already exists. That tech will only improve as more zoos adopt a virtual animal only policy. They could then become huge revenue generators to support conservation in the wild where the real wild animals belong.

Here are a few more ways Big Cat Rescue is different than a zoo:

(BCR = Big Cat Rescue)

BCR does not buy, does not sell, BCR does not breed the cats, and does not trade the cats.

BCR does not take cats off property to drag them around to schools, malls, or fairs. Not only do the unaccredited roadside pseudo zoos do that but even some AZA-accredited zoos lead big cat cubs around the zoos on leashes or cart animals off property calling them ‘ambassador animals’ which is something we believe sends the wrong message.

BCR does not shy away from exposing the bad guys who are abusing & exploiting cats even though it puts a target on our back.

BCR offers private tours of the sanctuary to our donors and supporters instead of letting the public wander around. This prevents cats from being teased, harassed, or tormented by guests.  Guests leave with a better understanding of the cats, the issues big cats face, and what they can do to help stop the abuse and exploitation. Learn more about how you can support our big cats and take a private tour of the sanctuary at

BCR does not lock the cats up inside night houses at night but leaves them outside in their enclosures to enjoy the night sounds and air. Cats are most active at night and they love getting to be outside instead of being locked indoors in night houses.

BCR’s enclosures are set up with the cats’ feelings in mind. Cats are given places to hide so if they choose to not be out for the tours and choose to not be seen by humans they have that option.

BCR educates the public on the Big Cat Public Safety Act that was signed into law on December 20, 2022 that stops the cub petting and phases out private possession of big cats as the first step in saving them in the wild.

BCR is a no contact-facility meaning staff, volunteers, nor guests touch the cats.

BCR keepers and interns are volunteers.

BCR streams medical procedures through LIVE streaming webcams.  See the list of all the cat webcams at

BCR provides regular enrichment for the cats.

As cats get old they lose muscle mass and bones protrude and in the eyes of the public, they are no longer as pretty or handsome as they were in their youth.  A lot of facilities house those cats out of the public’s eye.  Big Cat Rescue does not do that.  The cats, no matter how old, are kept in the regular enclosures and on the tour path, if they like seeing the tours.  We do not believe in hiding them away.

BCR has always maintained a public list of all animals who live here as well as those who have crossed the rainbow bridge.

Learn about some of the work we do to support conservation projects working to save wild cat species in the wild where they belong.

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One Comment

  1. I love what you do for the cats. You mention that it is illegal to release caged cats into the wild. Are there ever any cats that come to you that have only been caged for a short time that would be allowed back into the wild? After they have been to your rescue and given a feel for what a more natural environment would be for them? Why would it be illegal if it is done properly? Another question. Do you ever place more than one cat in the same enclosure?

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