1736 Views 1 Like 5 On 1 Rating

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.

Accepting applications for a few remaining 2020 positions beginning Sept.1, 2020!  Sorry, summer is already full.

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


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! 


Intern with tigersIn order to take care of our cats, you need to be: 

  1. At least 18 years old and possess a valid driver’s license or photo I.D.
  2. Capable of walking and standing for extended periods of time and able to lift and carry a minimum of 50 lbs.
  3. Possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, good health and endurance for working outdoors in all types of weather.  
  4. 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, domestic cat care (we foster domestic kittens – more on that below), daily chores, perimeter checks of our property, and miscellaneous projects. 

Interns doing cage enhancements for a leopard at Big Cat RescueIntern Training also includes taking the following classes:

  • Orientation
  • Tours and Guest Relations
  • First Aid
  • Animal Emergency
  • Animal Observation
  • Small Cat Cleaning
  • Small Cat Feeding 
  • Enrichment Class
  • Operant Training



Interns must complete 600 hours of service during the 12 week internship. This is equivalent to working 50+ hours per week. The day typically begins between 7:30 – 8:00 AM and ends between 6:30 – 8:00 PM. It’s tough work and long days but it will probably be the most rewarding and fulfilling work you’ve ever taken on! 

Coral the Foster KittenKittens!!! If you love big cats, we just KNOW you love little cats too! As a BCR intern, you get to participate in our Foster Kitten Program! We foster kittens from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. As one of our responsible interns, you’ll be assigned to take care of one or more kittens (and sometimes the mama cat) until they reach 2 pounds and are returned to the humane society to be adopted. This program allows you to care, interact and socialize these adorable fluff balls — they will even live with you at night! We encourage our interns and volunteers to visit the Kitten Cabana while on breaks during the day to snuggle kittens and socialize them so they are friendly and adoptable when they are returned to the organization. How pawsome! 


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 $50 (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! 


Interns go on field trip at Big Cat RescueAnimal 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.

Tanya mixes the blood back into the mush so it's tasty for the cats tomorrow.

Currently accepting applications for 2020 positions! 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!

In case you need more info to decide:

1736 Views 5 On 1 Rating Rate it

Leave a Reply


This post currently has 49 responses.

  1. Cassidy Joelle

    September 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I'm a cultural anthropologist…
    more I've known anthropos, the more I like my Cats………
    and pretty much any critter to boot -^..^-

  2. Cindy Wilson

    March 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Your dream is just around the corner and I know you can navigate that corner…we love & support you in this! Remember that! <3

  3. Mark Joyes

    June 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I have collected 3 letters of recommendation, however I've just realised that a template is provided. Does this template have to be followed or are my letters of recommendation okay?

  4. Roman Fitzpatrick

    April 22, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Is the internships stilling going to be going on with what has been happening? If so, are the internship spot full?

Leave a Reply

  • Copyright 2020 Big Cat Rescue