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The Big Cat Sanctuary

Sarah Medway Keira (Feb 2024) Resized
Nature & Wildlife

The Big Cat Sanctuary "Protection is our Passion"

The Big Cat Sanctuary is a conservation charity in Kent dedicated to the conservation of wild cats. Founded in the year 2000, the Sanctuary is home to around 40 cats spanning 12 different species, 11 of which are classed as more than vulnerable to the risk of extinction on the IUCN red list. These include African and Asiatic lions, Sumatran tigers, Amur tigers, Snow leopards, Amur leopards, jaguars and many more. We are proud to have such a diverse collection of wild cats which includes the largest, the most endangered and the smallest cats in the world.

We are proud to be contributing to the accredited co-ordinated breeding programmes which are helping to maintain genetic diversity in the captive populations of endangered cat species. This process is in place to ensure that should it become viable to consider reintroduction of an endangered species in the future, there is a population existing in captivity to supplement their wild counterparts.

Our four pillars of ethos are Welfare, Breeding, Education and Conservation, our mission is to fulfil each of these goals by ensuring our residents live the best possible lives we are able to provide in captivity. We are making partnerships to support global conservation strategies, initiatives and the gathering of research to help protect some of the most endangered cats in the world.

Our aim is to educate our guests, our cats are ambassadors for their wild cousins who face immense challenges in an ever-changing world; loss of habitat and prey, the illegal wildlife trade, poaching and traditional medicine are all factors pushing so many species to extinction.

The Big Cat Sanctuary offers immersive and informative experiences which give an insight into the conservation work, as well as an opportunity to get up close and personal with the resident cats. These include guided tours, afternoon teas, overnight stays in their luxury lodges, photography workshops, ranger days and adoptions.

Visit the website for more details on these opportunities and how you can support their work.

The Sanctuary holds Annual Open Days where they open the doors to the public, this year the dates are Wednesday 24th July to Sunday 28th July. People can expect to see the incredible cats, but also get an insight into the global conservation work being done from the site in Kent. Tickets need to be purchased online, in advance. These are family fun days with arena displays of falconry and anti-poaching dogs as well as a variety of entertainment.


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The Big Cat Sanctuary Smarden Ashford
TN27 8PJ


Opening Times

Annual Open Days in July, pre-booking required

Accessible parking
Conference / Meeting facilities
Free car parking
Gift shop
Guided tours
Restaurant / Cafe / Tea shop
Restaurant / cafe / tea shop / catering facilities
Room hire for meetings and parties
Suitable for families
Contact Us
Ashford Visitor Information Service. Tel: 01233 330383 Email: