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“Worth the money, great for all ages”

Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary
Ranked #9 of 143 things to do in Sarasota
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary provides a sanctuary "for life" for the exotic animals currently calling the sanctuary home. Our goal is to create habitats that mimic native environments and are complete with a staff that can provide daily behavioral, sensory, and manipulative enrichment which is the basis for a happy healthy animal in captivity. As we grow and open our habitat to more rescues we will provide the same excellent care while educating the public.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase
1 review
“Worth the money, great for all ages”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

Took my 9 and 10 year old kids. We did everything possible Feeding all the animals, touching the ones we could and laughing along with the monkeys
Be sure to go to the show! The animals seem to be well cared for and the people who work there seem to care about them

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Monkeylahr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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932 reviews from our community

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English first
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great Value with a Groupon”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

We enjoyed our visit, and it was worth what we paid with the Groupon. Not sure if it is worth the full price. Show was amateur at best, but the animals were awesome!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Amye K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bradenton, Florida
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Mixed Feelings”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

We give this place 3 stars because although the animals could use larger habitats, they all seemed very healthy. However, our feelings really took a downturn when we witnessed the "show" they put on. I understand their logic of putting on animal shows in an effort to raise more money to continue to support these magnificent animals, but what we saw was unnecessary and maybe borderline abuse. First, they seem very uneducated in animal behavior. The people that run this place come from a line of circus entertainers. They do not have any actual educational background in animal behavior. If they do, they did not say they did nor is it posted anywhere. They lady actually told the crowd to give their dogs bacon because they will love it. Giving a dog bacon can cause severe complications due to the high fat and salt content. Also, they were giving a lemur lots of raisins after saying raisins were not part of their normal diet. Fine, give him a few, but letting a line of 20 children keep feeding him them is not healthy if they are not a part of his normal diet. During the show, they talked very little about the conditions these animals face in the world and none about the individual situations of the animals at their statuary. Yes, they were accurate in their telling of how well-known charities raise millions of dollars every year, yet only less than a fraction of a percent actually goes to the animals. But at the end of their animal show, we felt this story was more to make themselves look legit by telling real facts. The reasons we found their show to be borderline cruel, were because of the following:
1) They brought out a chimp named Chance and claimed it was state regulations for him to be tethered. I still have not looked to see if this is true; however, I find it hard to believe a chimp needs to be tethered on private property in FL, yet 3 huge tigers can roam around without any leash in the same enclosed arena area. The poor thing seemed miserable to have that around his neck and the worst part was the lady kept yanking on it when he wouldn't go where she wanted him to go. Worse, when he wouldn't look in the direction she wanted him to look, she would grab his head and turn it. We were all the way in the back center of the highest bleachers and even to us it seemed she was being too forceful.
2) The tigers, where to start. I actually wanted to leave during this part. Tigers are my favorite animal and because of that, I feel connected to them and respect them. She basically was teaching them to perform circus tricks. She said her goal was to have the male resting on a ladder that connected to platforms, while a female tiger jumped over him! When does this happen in the wild? These animals should be educating people and if they must perform any sort of tricks, they should be natural behavior tricks. Then she claimed she uses positive enforcement to train them. How is it positive enforcement to train them by giving them a piece of meat when they do the right thing, but poking them in the rear or side with a stick (pretty forcefully at the end of the show) when they refuse to move because they are tigers and not dogs! She also used a whip which she said she only used lightly to give them a nudge. Yet toward the end she seemed to be losing her patience and we could hear the leather hit their hides from where we were sitting. Also, every time a tiger was either hit with the whip or poked with one of the sticks from the 3 people outside of the arena, they acted aggressive. I think a normal person and someone who knows anything about big cat behavior would realize and respect that these are wild animals and if they do not want to do what you want them to (performing tricks) then leave them be. They whole purpose of a rescue place is to educate people about how these animals are not meant to be pets, yet she is treating them like they are as trainable as dogs. A lot of big cats end up in rescues because they were circus performers or similar, and she is continuing to use them as such but taking better care of them health-wise. We are torn because the truth is if this place were to close,most of these beautiful cats would be killed due to not having another place to go. Like I said, they are healthy. We just wished they focused more on education and behavior than turning them into performing acts.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
6 Thank MCGLF8896
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pinckney, Michigan
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Best Animal Preserve Ever”
Reviewed July 15, 2013

These are the healthiest, most beautiful animals I have ever seen at any zoo. The daily show is an incomparable educational experience in addition to being entertaining. You can purchase various foods to feed the different animals, and little ones (as well as some big ones) will enjoy being able to feed goats right out of their hands. This is an experience that I intend to repeat. I've never been so close to such beautiful creatures. They are so clean you would swear someone had bathed and brushed them individually!
Sweet Bay donates food to this facility. Consequently, I've chosen to do the majority of my grocery shopping at Sweet Bay locations.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Rebecca F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bradenton, Florida
Level Contributor
30 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Fun day trip!”
Reviewed July 11, 2013

The Big Cat Habitat is a great way to spend the day with your family. You can feed giant bears, loins and tigers too! Oh and they have Ligers!!! My kids enjoy the little petting zoo where you can mingle with goats. They even have a neat little daily show. For the small price of admission its well worth it.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank THOMASAM1983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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