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“Family of Animal Love” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
7101 Palmer Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34232
(941) 371-6377
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Ranked #16 of 49 Attractions in Sarasota
Attraction details
Newport Beach, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Family of Animal Love”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2014

If you love any animal its beautiful to see, feel and breathe them so close to you. I highly recommend visiting many times because animals are full of great surprises!

Visited April 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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263 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
East Lansing, Michigan
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Really an eye opener”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2014

I am not a big zoo fan, and I am not interested in animals trained to do tricks and used for human entertainment (like circuses). I just feel that animals should be left in their own habitats and protected in their own habitats, although I realize that there is a need for education and special protection of certain species. I agreed to go to this habitat because it is a sanctuary, appears to be sanctioned by environmental and "game protection" professionals and takes care of animals that have been abandoned or neglected or abused. It is not an natural habitat environment at all, there are cages, and animals are locked in cages for many hours a day. They appear to be well cared for, the habitat seems clean, and the habitat staff claims to rotate the animals in outside exercise areas on a daily basis (every 2 hours). The habitat employees are friendly and informative, and some animals seemed attached to some of the employees. They seemed to have opened the habitat to the public (from 12:30 to 4 pm for 4 days a week, which is not a lot of time, so the animals are not constantly gawked at for the sake of the almighty dollar) because they could not continue to afford the food for so many animals. The staff spoke very supportively of animal rescue efforts and talked about not choosing wild animals as pets and using animal shelters to adopt dogs and cats. The attitude at the habitat seemed to be "correct." Even though I was pretty uncomfortable with the small environs for the animals, they seemed well cared for, and they were probably better off than where they lived previously. I assume that the habitat had all proper accreditation, and they stated that the Florida wildlife and fish agencies were the entities that provided most of their animals (because they were seized from their original owners by these agencies).

There were birds and monkeys and a petting zoo and some small wildlife, but the big attraction were the lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!). The kodiak bears absolutely took my breath away with their size -- they were JUST GIGANTIC. They also paced constantly (the tigers and lions slept). They loved apple pieces. There were a very large number of tigers, and I have seen tigers in zoos, but not as close up as here, where the tigers were only a few feet away, and they were absolutely positively gorgeous animals. There were a couple of male lions, with manes, and some female lions (like Simba and Nala of Lion King). There was a white tiger with a sad face. The animals were simply breath-taking. You could look right into their eyes There was a liger - a cross between a tiger and lion, and, through genetics, the liger on view had a condition that ensured that it would not stop growing. It was an enormous animal. It was just a really eye-opening experience - the animals were so much closer than at zoos, and so much more beautiful close up.

I can say that I did not appreciate at all the "show" that took place at 2 pm in a small cheesy "arena." I sat long enough to see a dog named Max perform some tricks, and some small ponies were brought into the enclosure to do some tricks, and I left "the show" when that started. I did not appreciate the "stupid pet tricks" nature of the show, although the animals seemed fine and did not appear to be mistreated.

Just seeing the large animals up so close was worth the $15 admission, which I did not mind because I believe it went to help to feed the animals. It was a good experience, and I appreciated that habitat's effort to take care of neglected and mistreated animals and to educate people about treating wildlife with respect, leaving it alone and in its natural habitat, and adopting domestic animals from shelters to serve as pets. I wish they had more money to provide more than cages and a smallish "outdoor" enclosure for these majestic creatures.

Visited March 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buffalo, New York
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“a hidden gem for the whole family!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2014

Our extended family has been finding relief from winter weather in the Siesta Key/Sarasota area for decades and only this year stumbled upon this hidden gem!

The Big Cat Habitat is a non-profit safe haven for big cats, bears, monkeys and other animals in need. Most of their animals come from well-intended owners who quickly come to realize caring for these animals is much tougher than they expected. The genuine concern for the welfare of these animals exudes from the operators and volunteers that operate this place.

The Big Cat Habitat offers a rare opportunity to see these animals up-close and personal.

And it's only 15 minutes from Sarasota!

Visited March 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Siesta Key, Florida
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
“Great Wildlife Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2014

This place is the real deal, and an awesome experience for kids and adults alike. The animals are rescued, not captured for display creatures, and they are varied, sometimes rare, and all magnificent. There are lions, tigers, chimps, ligers, marmosets, llamas, emus, goats, peacocks, lemurs, camels, and a host of others. For a $1 donation, you can get a cup of food which you can feed to the llamas, goats, fowl, and emus. It's great fun (feed the emus directly from the cup--they peck to get food rather than scoop it from your palm like the other animals do-- and a peck in the palm might be rather unpleasant!). We took our 9 year old grandson, and he was captivated (as were we). Do not miss the Demonstration that is presented daily at 2:00 pm. It's a terrific show (and included in the cost of admission to the Habitat). We've been to most of the attractions in and around Sarasota, and this is definitely a DON'T MISS experience, especially for kids.

Visited March 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
sarasota FL
Top Contributor
227 reviews 227 reviews
62 attraction reviews
Reviews in 69 cities Reviews in 69 cities
116 helpful votes 116 helpful votes
“I enjoyed seeing the animals”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2014

The animals are beautiful. I hate seeing them in cages, but it is better than they would have had before. I am not one for "shows" as I don't like to see animals do tricks, but I did enjoy the housecats. I give this a two thumbs up for seeing exotic lions, tigers and bears.

Visited February 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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