Exploring the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent

My partner, Mike, is well aware of my passion for wildlife and conservation. I’m constantly watching nature documentaries and reading related books whilst being on the look out for conservation volunteering opportunities abroad and new animals to adopt. Knowing all this, I guess it’s no surprise that my Christmas present last year was animal themed. Mike gave me a voucher which enabled me to visit The Big Cat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kent. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait. Not many people are even aware that this wildlife centre exists, but this is probably because it’s not open to the public. You can only visit it through certain tours. Mike booked me a tour of the cats, along with a talk from Giles Clark and afternoon tea experience.

A cheetah laying on the grass

We arrived, as advised, no more than 10 minutes before the experience was due to start. I was immediately impressed with the wooden lodges. It really did remind me of being in Africa. We signed in and sat down ready for our talk from the BBC’s Giles Clark. He’s led a fascinating and admirable life. How I would love to be so actively involved in animal conservation! He informed us of the breeding programmes set up at the Sanctuary and of the animals that were rescued from circus’ and other such places.

The Big Cat Sanctuary is home to over 50 big and small cats and has the most diverse collection in the UK. Their primary aim is to breed some of the worlds most endangered species as well as provide a home for retired and homeless cats. The Big Cat Sanctuary supports many other wildlife charities around the world. It is currently trying to raise money to buy two collars for animals in the wild which cost around £6,000 each!

After the talk I thanked Giles Clark and we headed for a tour of the big cats. I loved seeing them even though it’s a shame there some animals are behind cages. However, I see how necessary it is in order to protect and breed certain species and I admire the work that the Big Cat Sanctuary do. On our tour we saw lions, tigers, caracals, serval cats, snow leopards, pumas, jaguars, fishing cats, lynx, Pallas cats, white tigers and lions, leopards, jungle cats and my favourite: cheetahs.

After the tour we sat down to enjoy an afternoon tea before exploring the gift shop and saying goodbye to all the big cats. I was so inspired by my day at The Big Cat Sanctuary that I have now adopted a cheetah there. I very much look forward to attending an adopters lunch and visiting the big cats again.



  1. yogawinetravel
    March 18, 2017 / 2:08 am

    What an amazing experience, and so thoughtful that your partner booked you in to this centre even though it isn’t generally open! Do you know if they ever return cats to the wild? I know with some elephant sanctuaries it’s not possible to do so because of medical issues/injuries.

    • March 18, 2017 / 8:14 am

      Hiya, I don’t think they do rehabilitate animals at the actual centre because some have been raised for things like the circus and some are intended for the breeding programme but they do support charities worldwide that do so.

  2. March 18, 2017 / 8:45 am

    Amazing. I had no idea this existed and I live near the Kent border! I’ll certainly bear this in mind for future adventures.

    • March 18, 2017 / 11:02 am

      I didn’t know much about it either until very recently. It’s definitely worth a visit. My partner booked it through Red Letter Days.

  3. March 18, 2017 / 9:44 am

    I love wildlife too and am always glad to hear of conservation efforts around the world. Glad you had a great time and I’d love to know of conservation volunteering opportunities too!

    • March 18, 2017 / 11:04 am

      Im the same. I often worry about how ethical some sanctuaries are but this one seems to be very genuine. I volunteered in South Africa last year (wrote a post about it) and am volunteering in Sri Lanka this year. Always looking out for new places to volunteer.

  4. March 18, 2017 / 11:18 am

    I just googled it and it looks like they know what they are doing on the first impression :). I always have second thoughts about places like these, so it´s nice to see and read about a positive experience!

  5. March 18, 2017 / 11:50 am

    This is so awesome!! I love this concept. It looks like the cats are in cages. Do they have sufficient land to run around? Or is it just a glorified zoo?

    • March 19, 2017 / 11:17 am

      They were in cages yes and I think some of them could have been bigger. They’re currently trying to raise money to build bigger ones.

  6. March 18, 2017 / 1:25 pm

    Great experience ! It seems to be a fantastic opportunity to meet the professionals who look after the big cats, and to enjoy a guided tour of the site ! Wow meet Tigers, Leopards, African Lions, Cheetah, Serval… such a beautiful day 🙂

    • March 19, 2017 / 11:18 am

      It was great. I found it so interesting hearing about the conservation work they’re doing.

  7. March 18, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    Those animals look so mysterious, I could watch them all day long..

  8. March 19, 2017 / 1:50 pm

    I had no idea this existed! While I’m happy that they’ve rescued these beautiful cats from circuses, like you say it’s a shame that they’re still behind bars. They look really well cared for and that’s ultimately the main thing!

    • March 25, 2017 / 11:54 am

      Me neither until very recently. I agree, the main thing is that the sanctuary cares for the cats and has their best intentions at heart.

  9. crazytravelista
    March 19, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    This sounds awesome! I really want to do some volunteer work with Cheetahs and other big cats in Africa. I’m crazy cat lady so any time I get to interact with any cat, my heart is full!! Love your pics of all the cute little faces! Such beautiful creatures <3

    • March 25, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Thank you, they’re so beautiful! I am also looking to volunteer with cheetahs in Africa. I’ve looked at some projects in Namibia which look incredible. I’d be interested to know which ones you’ve looked at too?

  10. Blissful Shades
    March 19, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    Oh my goodness! I think Cheetas are my favorite but that big fluffy cat stood out too! You’re hubby is awesome. I do hope that they have huge playgrounds for these big kitties. Did you get to pet any?
    p.s I love your pictures! the cats look so peaceful!

    • March 25, 2017 / 11:56 am

      Cheetahs are my favourite too, they’re so gorgeous! The cages were a decent size but the sanctuary are trying to raise money to make them bigger. No we didn’t have any interaction with the cats. Thank you 🙂

  11. March 20, 2017 / 3:08 am

    How lovely. Such a great experience for you to see these big cats and the positive efforts taking place there to help endangered species. That is so great about adopting a cheetah!

    • March 25, 2017 / 11:58 am

      It was; I loved hearing about all the conservation charities that the sanctuary are working with. Thank you, I love cheetahs!

  12. March 20, 2017 / 5:43 pm

    Really wonderful to read about conservation efforts such as these! Adopting sounds like a great way to make a difference in the life of a real big cat. Sounds like your partner won on the Christmas contest :))

    • March 25, 2017 / 11:59 am

      Thanks, it was lovely to be there. I agree, I love cheetahs so I’m so happy I can adopt one and and contribute towards the work that the sanctuary does.

  13. April 26, 2017 / 3:23 am

    Beautiful animals. My favorite type of big cat is the Jaguar

  14. July 24, 2017 / 10:45 am

    This is amazing! I didn’t even know there was a big cat Sanctuary in Kent… I will definitely be doing some more research! Thanks

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