On Saturday, I went to the Carolina Tiger Rescue with a group of friends. Formerly called the Carnivore Preservation Trust, the sanctuary boasts 55 acres of land for about 60 wildcats. We saw tigers, ocelots, a bobcat, a serval, binturongs, and a kinkajou, all of whom seemed to enjoy their large and unique habitats. While we observed one tiger, a worker came by with a burlap sack full of beef and newspaper, which she swung over the high fence for the tiger to nosh on. The workers are dedicated to making the animals’ lives as rich as possible, and one enrichment activity is making a meal into a game; the tigers enjoy ripping through the burlap and paper to find their prize.

Our tour guide told us that the main reason wildcats are taken to the sanctuary is the exotic animal trade. People buy these animals when they are little and cute, but once they hit 100 lbs, suddenly the owners realize it’s not so practical to keep a  tiger in the backyard. Did you know it’s legal to own and sell tigers in North Carolina and eight other U.S. states; you don’t even have to get a wild animal permit! Our guide said there are about 5,000 privately owned tigers in the state of Texas. WTH are these people thinking?! Why didn’t the mauling of a three year old Apex boy encourage harsher laws? Seeing these beautiful cats up close is enough research for me to know that they are not meant to be owned by humans. Luckily there are places like the Carolina Tiger Rescue that help rehabilitate these animals. The CTR website says,

Carolina Tiger Rescue is working toward the day when:

  • wildcats are not owned by individuals as pets
  • wildcats are not used for entertainment purposes
  • no trade exists for wildcats or their parts
  • all wildcats prosper in sustainable, native habitats

If you live in North Carolina, plan a trip to the Carolina Tiger Rescue. It’s only $12 a ticket, and you won’t forget the amazing cats you will meet!


The Kinkajou is Level 4 Aggressive – same as a tiger!

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