Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary near Tampa, Florida, United States, devoted to rescuing and housing exotic felines, rehabilitating injured or orphaned native wild cats, and ending the private trade and ownership of exotic cats via educational outreach and legislation. As of August 2015, the center is home to 19 big cats and 67 small cats. Big Cat Rescue has sheltered binturongs, bobcats, caracals, civets, cougars, Geoffroy's cats, leopards, lions, lynxes, jaguars, ocelots, sand cats, servals, and tigers.
The sanctuary is located on 67 acres (27 ha) in the Citrus Park area of North Tampa. In 2014, Big Cat Rescue received over 27,000 visitors. Big Cat Rescue began operating in 1992, and bills itself as "the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats." It is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and is a member of World Animal Protection.
One of the main goals of Big Cat Rescue is to end ownership and trade of exotic felines in the private sector entirely. Big Cat Rescue claims that permit systems are not effective at ensuring animal welfare and campaigns for a total ban of private ownership of big cats regardless of keeping conditions. The center is part of the International Tiger Coalition, which is dedicated to stopping the trade of tiger parts.
In 2005, Big Cat Rescue published an action plan to end all captive keeping of all exotic cats, including animals in AZA-accredited zoos bred for conservation. According to the plan, Big Cat Rescue wanted interstate transport of big cats for any reason (including conservation breeding programs) to end by 2012, display of large exotic cats in zoos to end by 2013 and keeping of any exotic cats (including smaller species) in zoos to be discontinued by 2015.
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