The Big Cat Sanctuary is nationally recognised as one of the best cat sanctuaries in the UK. We are incredibly proud of this as we work tirelessly to meet certain standards as a safe place for cats. But what makes us so special? We have outlined below the four pillars of The Big Cat Sanctuary: Welfare, Breeding, Education and Conservation. We stand by these ethics and are the four values that we hit when we lead any new project or development or even just day to day tasks at the Sanctuary.
Welfare – The Sanctuary strives to provide the most fulfilled life in captivity for all our resident cats, stimulating them both mentally and physically. Ensuring our cats receive excellent care, a varied diet and different sources of enrichment allows the cats to exercise their natural behaviours. Enrichment is especially important for encouraging natural behaviours of our cats. From stalking to foraging, our different techniques are specially designed to target different aspects of natural instinct and behaviour you might see in the wild.
Cardboard boxes are great source of enrichment and our Snow Leopards love them! But just to make this treat extra special, our keepers sometimes spray the boxes with scents. You can see our Snow Leopard family rub against the cardboard boxes and show natural flehmen response behaviours on our Facebook page. A simple and effective example of the enrichment we provide for our cats, new scents are given to our animals imitate the new smells that a cat like a Snow leopard may encounter in the wild.
Breeding – The Sanctuary are proud to be part of the conservation based co-ordinated global breeding programmes. By maintaining genetic diversity within the captive population, there is the possibility that in the future cats bred in captivity may be used to supplement populations in the wild. If cat species become extinct in the wild, we would be able to breed that species safely within captivity to ensure the species is not lost forever.
One of our breeding pairs is Jaguar couple Keira and Neron. Keira came from our sister site Paradise Wildlife Park in 2018 and was paired with the stunning black Jaguar Neron. The two were instantly intrigued by each other, sniffing through fencing and staying close by to investigate one another. Once the two cats were introduced into the same habitat, the team were so happy to see both cats settled and clearly showing affection for one another. We hope that Neron and Keira will have cubs of their own to continue the healthy bloodline.
Education – Raising awareness for the Sanctuary and cat conservation will heavily impact on our charity and conservation as a whole. By furthering our message of welfare, breeding, education and conservation, we are more likely to spark affiliation with our supports and visitors. One way to do this is to offer the Sanctuary as a hub of education.
The Big Cat Sanctuary offers workshops, tours and outreach sessions from our team of educators to suit students of all ages and abilities. Each educational visit is tailored to complement topics outlined in the National Curriculum and many include interactive activities. Access to replica big cat artefacts and seized HMRC items enhance visits and we aim for everyone to leave excited and enthused about big cats and their conservation. We welcome visitors from all school year groups, higher education institutions, as well as mixed age groups from voluntary and charitable organisations e.g. Beavers, Cubs and Brownies.
Please contact us directly to discuss booking an educational visit. Workshops are only offered Tuesday —Friday and are based on a first come, first served basis. Call us on 01233 439150 or email [email protected]
Conservation – Here at the Sanctuary we are all about making substantial contributions to global cat conservation. Whether this be at home or through trusted, regional based in-situ and ex-situ partners. The Big Cat Sanctuary is actually a charity. We are exclusively dedicated to the conservation of our planet’s wild cats.
One of the Sanctuary’s latest conservation projects was the partnership with Free the Bears in Laos. Our Director of Conservation and Big Cats, Giles Clark helped hand rear beautiful sun bear cub and act as consultant for the charity’s bear sanctuary expansion. Bears About the House was aired in two episodes in July 2020 on BBC Two and was an incredible tool to showcase Free the Bears and the incredibly vital work they do to protect Asia’s bears.
These four pillars are met every single day at The Big Cat Sanctuary and act as our foundation. They make us what we are and represent what we stand for, not just as a Sanctuary but as human beings. By donating to our charity, interacting with our social videos or sending us items for our cats, you are supporting these four pillars.