Welcome to what could be the most exciting adventure of your life — an Internship working with and learning about dozens of gorgeous exotic cats at Big Cat Rescue, a leading accredited big cat sanctuary in beautiful sunny Florida!  How long you stay and how far you want to advance is up to you — stay with us for a minimum of 12 weeks* or up to two years! You will not only gain invaluable experience and knowledge about big cats, but you’ll make lifelong friends and have experiences most people only dream of.

*10 week internships may be possible but won’t include everything you get in the 12 week course.

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Our mission is to provide the best home we can for the cats in our care, end abuse of big cats in captivity, and prevent extinction of wild big cats around the world. We are home to a variety of exotic cat species, most of whom have been abandoned, abused, seized by authorities, saved from being turned into fur coats, relinquished by private owners, or retired from performing acts.

All of our daily cat care including preparing meals for the cats, feeding the cats, and cleaning their enclosures is done by our amazing interns and volunteers (local Tampa area people who love big cats just like you). We are always looking for qualified individuals who want to join us. If you would love to live on property here at our sanctuary and care for our precious exotic cats as one of our Interns, you’ve come to the right place!


In order to take care of our cats, you need to be:

At least 18 years old and possess a valid driver’s license or photo I.D.
Capable of walking and standing for extended periods of time and able to lift and carry a minimum of 50 lbs.

Fully Vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof.

Possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, good health and endurance for working outdoors in all types of weather.

Obtain a tetanus vaccination, at your own expense, which will be valid for the duration of the internship.


All of our interns start off at Level 1. The Big Cat Rescue intern program requires diverse skill sets and responsibilities. As a Level 1, you will first learn about the sanctuary and operations, then move into specific animal husbandry training.

Additional duties for Level 1 interns include housekeeping, landscaping, diet prep, daily chores, perimeter checks of our property, and miscellaneous projects.

Intern Training also includes taking the following classes:

Tours and Guest Relations
First Aid
Animal Emergency
Animal Observation
Small Cat Cleaning Class & Training
Small Cat Enrichment Class & Training


Interns must complete 600 hours of service during the internship. This is equivalent to working 50 hours per week. The day typically 7-7:30 7:30 AM and ends between 5:30 – 6:00 PM. It’s tough work and long days but it will probably be the most rewarding and fulfilling work you’ve ever taken on!


Big Cat Rescue provides FREE HOUSING!! You’ll enjoy fully stocked housing accommodations (meaning we provide you with sheets, pillows, towels, dishes, microwave, television, etc.) and your own private bedroom. The shared areas include computer, bathroom, and kitchen areas. Intern housings are smoke, alcohol, and drug free environments. Interns are permitted to live off-site in their own accommodations at their own expense if you prefer (but it’s not as fun!). You will be given $125 for food & incidentals each week.

What costs will you have? We will need a non-refundable $60 (our cost to run a criminal background check on you) upon confirmation of your interview session. And a deposit of $300 (to hold your spot and in case there are housing or property damages during your stay). Once you’ve finished our program and passed inspection that they’re aren’t any damages, your deposit will be returned.


When you’re not working, there are some fun activities planned. Our staff members give great evening presentations periodically on fascinating educational topics such as our Rehab Bobcat Program or our ongoing Advocacy for big cats. And we have quarterly parties to celebrate YOU and our other volunteers!


Animal Contact: Big Cat Rescue is a strict no-contact facility. That means we never touch any of our cats.

Animal Care: No mistreatment of animals of any kind will be tolerated, including teasing, and is grounds for immediate dismissal.

Security of Animal Information Files: Any printed or digital information about the cats and their health must always be readily available to our staff, vets, and appropriate volunteers.

General Safety: No part of your body — including fingers and hands — shall ever pass through the bars of any enclosure at any time. Smoking is permitted in the designated “smoking areas” only. Absolutely no alcohol or drugs are allowed on the property at any time.

Entering Enclosures: No person is ever allowed to enter any enclosure with a cat. No one can ever enter an empty enclosure without direct permission.


Click Here for Intern Application

This section covers the intern application process only. Please read the entire Intern Orientation Contract (all of the information on this web page) so that you are completely aware of the requirements of the intern program, deposits and fees, work schedule, housing and transportation, and basic rules that apply to all interns, volunteers, and staff.

Big Cat Rescue can only accommodate a limited number of interns at any given time. Applications are accepted year round.

For summer internships, it is recommended that you apply no later than three months prior to your desired start date, but applications will be accepted at anytime.

Acceptance into the program is on a rolling basis throughout the year and is based on the availability of housing and applicants.

If you would like to apply for the Big Cat Rescue Internship Program, please complete the Intern Application below and submit the below listed required documents. (Email is the preferred method for submitting applications) We can’t wait to talk to you about this exciting and fulfilling opportunity!


1. Resume

2. Cover letter

3. A copy of your Driver’s License or Passport

4. A quick (<3 minutes) video of you explaining why you want to intern at Big Cat Rescue. (Nothing fancy, you can do this from your phone or computer.)

5. Three professional References are required. Supervisors from jobs and volunteer opportunities preferred. Sport Coaches (or related) are also acceptable. No more than 1 education related reference will be accepted.

Applications for summer slots should be sent at least three months prior to the desired start date. Only completed applications will be considered. Thank you for your interest! We hope to see you soon!

Zimba Serval's Dental May 2018
Learn about becoming a keeper or an Intern at Big Cat Rescue at

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