Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

There are many things to do in Sarasota and Siesta Key that you can’t just find anywhere else. While some activities are purely fun and others historic, a trip to the family-friendly Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is rewarding and educational.

Here is an overview of this renowned habitat and sanctuary and its contributions to Sarasota, exotic wildlife, and the preservation of our world.

What is the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary?

The habitat is a 501c3 non-profit sanctuary for rescued big cats. This includes tigers, leopards, panthers, and more. The habitat was created specifically to care for rescued exotic large cats.

The sanctuary is currently home to about 70 cats including Apollo, a Lynx, Ariel, a bobcat, Ares, a cougar, Armani, a leopard, and the jaw-dropping Zabu, one of the extraordinary rare white tigers.

big cat sanctuary sarasota fl

Now why would a big cat end up in Sarasota in the first place?

The reason for the sanctuary is unfortunately sobering. Big cats are often imported to the country for “truck stop zoos.” These places will charge money for a photo with a malnourished and sickly cat.

The cats are often abused, unable to walk well, and socially stunted. Cats are also released by private owners when they are not provided the living space and the treatment they need to thrive.

Through a network of collaborating parties, they rescue abused cats from these sources. The sanctuary rehabilitates the cats and works with the proper authority groups to eventually get qualified cats back out in the wild.

The team has also promoted political movements to protect cats, such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which blocks exotic cats from being kept as pets or in roadside truck stop zoos. Just last year alone, the team rescued nine exotic cats, including the addition of Manny the Jaguar. An Amur Leopard was also added to the home recently.

The team supports fundraising programs, offers educational classes, provides informative industry updates, offers items for sale, and more. But, perhaps most importantly for eager vacationers, the crew offers tours.

Tours of the Big Cat Habitat

Tours are not available at all hours. Due to the sensitivity of the exotic cats and limited resources, tours are exclusively available through pre-registration and pre-payment through the website.

You can visit to review the schedule and book your time. Tours fill up quickly, but they are also added often. Do not be discouraged if your preferred date isn’t available, but try to stay on top of the booking dates and act fast.

During your tour, you will be able to see the cats, learn about the system, and get educated about what you can do to support the freedom of these majestic wild treasures.

General Admission Hours and Prices

You can also visit during regular hours for general admission. The sanctuary is open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $18 for adults and $8 for children. With just a general admission you can see many of the big cats. You can also see animal demonstrations and shows featuring birds or primates during regular opening hours.

It is located at 7101 Palmer Blvd, Sarasota, FL, a little over 20 minutes from Siesta Key.

big cat habitat sarasota fl

Stay With Us as You Explore Sarasota

Sarasota is a wonderful place filled with attractions like the Big Cat Habitat, but you may not want to stay in the city where it’s crowded, and the beaches are a long way away. Thankfully, you have the magical beaches of Siesta Key available to you as the perfect home base to experience everything amazing the region has to offer.

Give us a call at 941-349-1125. Discover new opportunities to see the sites of Siesta Key and Sarasota right outside our Siesta Key beach rentals.


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5111 Ocean Blvd. Suite B, C & D
Siesta Key, Florida USA 34242
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