We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.


The Big Cat Sanctuary
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Smarden
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The Big Cat Sanctuary The Big Cat Sanctuary is a conservation charity, home to over 50 big and small cats across 16 different species. We are proud to have the most diverse collection in the UK, from the largest, to the smallest, to the most endangered in the world, hidden away in the Kent countryside. We are a centre of excellence whose primary objective is the breeding of some of the most endangered species on the planet as well as offering sanctuary to retired and homeless cats. The breeding centre is proud to be part of the EEP (European Endangered Species Breeding Programme). This is a body that regulates the captive breeding of endangered cats by making recommendations for breeding to produce a strong, healthy and diverse gene-pool within the captive population to ultimately be reintroduced safely into their natural habitat to mix with their counterparts in the wild. Breeding success so far includes the Amur leopard programme which is the world’s most endangered big cat, estimated between 70-80 remaining in the wild globally, also to the Sumatran tigers, Amur tigers and Pallas cats. Big Cat Sanctuary operates by way of personal big cat experiences including big cat tours, individual and group photography days, overnight big cat safari nights and adoptions. All of which need to be pre-booked in advance of a visit. The centre takes pride in delivering fully immersive, personal and amazing experiences that will leave any big cat lover with memories to treasure forever.
Headcorn, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
75 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 16, 2014

This is literally a couple of miles down the road from where we live and it is amazing! They did an open day in July 2013 for £10.00 each and you could have a look round. I was absolutely in awe of these wonderful animals. There are so many of them and the staff are so passionate about their work it is an absolute delight. I can't wait till they do it again hopefully this year

Visited July 2013
Thank Sally E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

424 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
60 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 13, 2014

I bought a groupon deal for my husband and i for Christmas and we went to the Wildlife Heritage Centre on a cold and damp Thursday afternoon.

It was a fantastic experience. Becky who guided us was extremely knowledgeable and had an answer to all of our questions. The animals are stunning. We were able to feed a tiger and a lion (somewhat daunting!). We learned a lot about the conservation and breeding programmes.

Would thoroughly recommend. Do not forget your wellies though ;-)

Visited January 2014
1 Thank Virginia R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Day and night at the Wildlife Heritage Centre”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 20, 2013

The Wildlife Heritage Centre is a truly amazing experience, I thoroughly recommend a visit but my only regret is that I didn't go sooner. An astonishing collection of well cared for Big Cats run by Peter Sampson, his wife and a delightful team, a wildlife photographers paradise! If your'e into Big Cats it's an absolute must visit.

Visited November 2013
2 Thank JonathanTruss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Godstone
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Best day out in Kent....ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 29, 2013

I have to say up front I'm already a big supporter of the work WHF do and already adopt and have attended previous open days and experiences. However the photographic day is really and truly something else!

I was lucky enough to have an individual experience booked, which meant one-on-one guidance and attention from the very knowledgeable Andy throughout the day which I'll be honest made all the difference in nabbing the one amazing shot. Andy is a top photographer, knows just about everything about the cats and is a genuinely friendly and approachable guy who is happy to work at your pace and ability.

I brought a mid level DSLR and a couple of lenses but frankly the experience would have been just as amazing with a point and shoot so don't feel you need big heavy lumps of glass. Starting up Andy took me through the optimal settings for a dreary November day and although we did refine them as we went along, he was spot on to able to catch the best shots.

So then the cats... Well you'll get a chance to get up close and personal with all of them, which means behind the safety fences and right up against the enclosure bars, meaning best chance of shot. Andy spends a lot of time encouraging the cats into positions for the shot with small tidbits of meat, so they probably enjoy it as much as you do. Occasional you can get a little too close and personal, but the staff and volunteers are totally safety focussed so you're in no real danger.

The one amazing benefit of the individual experience is being able to go inside the enclosures with some of the cats and having a Cheetah 6 inches from the end of your lens, or a fully grown Lynx leaping through the air and landing next to you is something else completely... (the less said about the Rusty Spotted Cat the better - suffice to say its cute but pure evil). This experience in itself is worth the price alone.

I cam away muddy, exhausted with overflowing memory cards but I can't recommend this enough. Cheers Andy and all the guys at WHF for the best day out in Kent ever.

Visited November 2013
2 Thank JamesHBSE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oldham, Lancashire, UK
Level Contributor
64 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 28, 2013

I went on the photography day, there were only about 8 of us there and was amazing. The cats are fantastic and all look in great shape. The guy who did the course was excellent, very friendly and approachable and gave as much or little advice as you wanted. And the young man who volunteered and came round with us all day helping out was very knowledgeable and did a great job. I didn't have a big fancy camera so was a bit worried before I went but it was fine and I managed to get some great photos.
The only one thing that was a slight negative is that the enclosures aren't as big as they could be but as I say all of the cats seemed in good condition.
Can't wait to book my next visit!

Visited July 2013
Thank Gemma0622
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed The Big Cat Sanctuary also viewed

Ightham, Sevenoaks

Been to The Big Cat Sanctuary? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing