Our Accreditation and Awards

Big Cat Rescue is:

Accredited by the Global Federation of Sanctuaries

Certified by Independent Charities of America as a “Best in America Charity”

Rated 4 Stars by Charity Navigator (their highest rating) every year since 2011, which only 6% of the thousands of nonprofits they rate achieve, and has the highest overall numerical score of any animal based charity at an amazing 100%!

Verified State Registrations Award Compliance Shield

Verification of state solicitation registrations means Big Cat Rescue complies with these annual requirements put in place by state legislatures and enforced by state regulators to protect their citizens against fraudulent charities and defend the reputation of the charitable community.

Known for our extensive research and implementation of best practices in wild cat care

Situated on 67 acres in the Citrus Park area of north Tampa

Florida law requires that all charities soliciting donations disclose their registration number and the percentage of your donation that goes to the cause and the amount that goes to the solicitor. Our registration number is CH-11409.  We are a 501 c 3 charity as determined by the IRS Federal ID#59-3330495. Our 990s are available online at GuideStar.org with a complete breakdown of how your donations are spent.





Top Rated Non Profit at Great Nonprofits.  We have received this award every year since they started awarding it in 2010 due to the many great reviews we get from visitors and donors each year.

2006 WEDU Be More Awards finalist for both the Be More Informed Award for marketing and Nonprofit of the Year

2007 WEDU Be More Humble online voting contest winner

2008 WEDU Be More Humble online voting contest winner

2008 Tampa Bay Business Journal name CFO Howard Baskin finalist for “CFO of the Year Award”

2009 WEDU Be More Humble online voting contest winner (stopped competing after that to give others a chance to win)

2009 Razoo.com online voting contest winner – prize $10,000

2009 Chase Bank “Chase Community Giving” online voting contest winner – prize $25,000

2009 Animal Planet names Operations Manager Scott Lope Animal Planet’s “Hero of the Year”

2009 Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce names Advisory Board Chairman Howard Baskin “Citizen of the Year”

2011 PC Magazine Names Big Cat Rescue in Top 12 Favorite Charities

2011 Tampa Bay Business Journal finalist for Non Profit of the Year

2011 The Tampa Bay Business Journal awarded Big Cat Rescue in 3 categories:

Best Black Tie Event

Favorite Retreat and Team Building Venue

Second Best Fundraiser

2011 WEDU Be More Relevant Award winner for best nonprofit video

2011 Toyota 100 Cars for Good online voting contest winner – prize $33,000 Toyota Tundra

2011 Top Rated Non Profit by Great NonProfits

2012 CBS Tampa ranks BCR as one of the top “Day Trips for Families”

2012 Top Rated Non Profit by Great NonProfits

2013 WEDU Be More Relevant Award winner for best nonprofit video

2013 Dalton Agency “Dalton Cares” online voting contest winner – prize $1000 cash and $4000 in kind services

2013 Suncoast Federal Credit Union online voting contest winner – prize $1000

2013 Top Rated Non Profit by Great NonProfits

2014 WEDU Be More Relevant Award winner for best nonprofit video

2014 Viator Top Rated Partner Award for consistently rating four stars or higher

2014 Origin Magazine listed Big Cat Rescue in their Top 25 Animal Non Profits

2014 Give Day Tampa Bay winner of $22,500 in prize money and winner of the most donors on that day.

2014 Recognized at Charity Navigator’s top rated charity of any kind for Tampabay area and #5 in animal charities in the nation.

2014 Named a Catster Hero

2014 Top Rated Non Profit by Great NonProfits

2015 Give Day Tampa Bay is the winner of the most prize money and winner of the most donors on that day.

2015 Top Rated Non Profit by Great NonProfits

2016 Big Cat Rescue has been selected for the 2016 Certificate of Excellence, reflecting the consistently great reviews we’ve earned on TripAdvisor.

2016 Big Cat Rescue Wins Best Environmental Organization  https://local.cltampa.com/publication/best-of-the-bay/2016/people-places-and-politics/best-environmental-organization/award/big-cat-rescue

2016 Animalitarian of the Year Award, and $5,000 grant, by PetPartners.

2016, 2017 and 2018 Expert’s Choice Award from Trip Expert where scores are calculated using expert reviews from 60+ publications including travel guides, magazines and newspapers and travel experts. They take into account the number of publications that have reviewed a specific venue, as well as any score or rating that has been awarded. The TripExpert Score claims to be the authoritative statement of overall quality as it cannot be influenced by fake reviews by those who oppose our work to end big cat abuse.  We also are the winner of their Best of Tampa Bay award.

2019 Carole Noon Award awarded to Carole Baskin.

2020 Everyday Hero Award by Bay News 9’s Bill Murphy.

2021  Rally Creator Innovative Use Award – The Creative Review Council voted and you’re an Innovative Use award winner!  On 6/11/2021, Rally.io sent 5,000 $RLY to Big Cat Rescue’s Rally account to reward us for our 3D tiger picture campaign.


Charity Navigator has rated Big Cat Rescue 4 Stars (their highest rating) every year we have been considered since 2011.  Only 6% of the thousands of nonprofits they rate achieve the 4 star rating five years in a row.

The Independent Charities of America has certified Big Cat Rescue as one of the Best in America Charities every year since 2008.

GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews for nonprofit organizations, has named Big Cat Rescue has named Big Cat Rescue as one of its “Top-Rated Charities” every year since the beginning of its ratings in 2010.

Animals Asia

Big Cat Coalition –  since July 2011 (other members incl: IFAW, HSUS, WWF, Born Free, ALDF, ISF & GFAS)

Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance – since 2017

Combined Federal Campaign #10766 – since 2008

Great NonProfits 2022

Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries – accredited since 1998 (TAOS)

International Tiger Coalition – since 2009

Species Survival Network – since 2016

No More Homeless Pets of Hillsborough County (founding member)

Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition – since 2009


Florida Association for the Restoration of Ethics

Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce

Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Association

Oldsmar/Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce

Westshore Alliance



History Channel – Monster Quest: Tigers in the Suburbs

History Channel – Monster Quest: Killer Chimps

History Channel – Monster Quest: The Black Beast Of Exmoor

Big Cat Rescue is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

Animal Planet – Most Extreme: Killer Cats

Animal Planet – Ms. Adventure Show: Communication

Animal Planet – Fatal Attractions: Tigers Unleashed 2013

Animal Planet – Fatal Attractions: Tiger Terror 2/22/13

Animal Planet – Untamed and Uncut

Discovery Channel – Lion Feeding Frenzy

OTF Amsterdam – Magnificent Obsessions

PBS – Inside Nature’s Giants Big Cats 2/7/12

Hallmark Channel – Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures 1999

Hope for Wildlife 2014

Big Cat Rescue Beginnings

Big Cat Rescue, a non profit educational sanctuary, is devoted to rescuing and providing a permanent home for exotic (i.e. wild, not domestic) cats who have been abused, abandoned, bred to be pets, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats, and to educating the public about these animals and the issues facing them in captivity and in the wild.   The sanctuary is home to the most diverse population of exotic cats in the world, with more than a dozen of the 35 species of wild cat represented among about 100 residents. These include tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, bobcats, lynx, ocelots, servals, caracals and others, many of whom are threatened, endangered, or now extinct in the wild.

The sanctuary began in 1992 when the Founder, Carole Baskin, and her then husband Don, mistakenly believing that bobcats made good pets, went looking to buy some kittens. They inadvertently ended up at a “fur farm” and bought all 56 kittens to keep them from being turned into fur coats. See How We Started.

In the early years, influenced by breeders and pet owners, they believed that the cats made suitable pets and that breeding and placing the cats in homes was a way to “preserve the species.” Gradually they saw increasing evidence that not only was this not the case, but that it was leading to a consistent pattern of suffering and abuse. See History and Evolution.

Today the sanctuary is devoted to its Vision of a world where animals are treated with respect, and its Mission of providing the best possible home for the animals in our care and trying to stop the flow of animals needing sanctuary by educating the public about the plight of the animals and supporting stronger laws to protect them.

The sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) not profit charity. It receives no government support and relies on its educational activities, such as tours of the facility, and the generosity of donors for support of the cats. Donations are tax deductible. Because non program expenses (i.e. administration and fundraising) are funded from tour income, 100% of donations go directly to support the cats.   We hope you enjoy your visit to our web site. We believe it is the most complete resource for information on big cats in the world.

Big Cat Rescue PSA

Celebrity Supporters of Big Cat Rescue

Meet the celebrities who love Big Cat Rescue: https://bigcatrescue.org/celebrities/

Even More Reasons to Support Big Cat Rescue

Good sanctuaries do not breed, buy or sell their animals and they do not allow contact between potentially dangerous animals and the public.

We are founding members of No More Homeless Pets of Hillsborough County, a coalition of animal rescue groups committed to ending euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs as a means to dispose of unwanted pets.   Our founder was the former Chairperson of the Hillsborough County Animal Advisory Committee by appointment of the Board of County Commissioners.

She is a past President of The Association of Sanctuaries and served on the board for HumaneUSA, the largest animal related Political Action Committee that gives approximately $250,000.00 a year to the promotion of better laws to protect the animals.

Our founder, advisory chair, staff and our veterinarians are past members of the American Zoological Association (AZA). Our vet is also members of the American Association of Zoo Vets (AAZV). Several of our keepers are members of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK.)

We hold permits issued by U.S.D.A #58-C-0814 , Florida Fish and Game permit #ESB 70 , State Wildlife rehab permits # SC01A-2079 and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Federal rehab permits, State Charitable Solicitation permit #CH-11409 and Hillsborough County occupational license.

Other Information About Us

How We Started

History and Evolution

Our Beliefs


Training Manuals Protocols