Tigers are the largest of all big cats native to Asia. They are also one of the most endangered animals in the world, with a population of around 3,900 remaining in the wild.
However, it is surprising to note that while wild tigers may be endangered, thousands of them are bred and kept in captivity all over the globe. At least 5,000 tigers are found in the U.S. alone. Several states in the U.S. allow the private possession of tigers and other big cats. This led to tigers being kept as personal pets, exhibited in zoos, exploited in circuses, and more.
What Are Tiger Sanctuaries?
Sanctuaries are organizations that care for wild or exotic animals. The tigers and other animals in sanctuaries are often rescued or surrendered by their former owners due to a lack of resources to fully care for them.
Wildlife sanctuaries use humane practices to properly care for animals without resorting to punishment. Many tiger sanctuaries are non-profit and focus on taking in abandoned, neglected, and abused wild animals. Unlike zoos, sanctuaries do not focus on exhibiting the animals to the public.
Some sanctuaries may offer tours and visits, or upload tigers videos online, though. These are all done to help educate the public about their mission, raise awareness on exotic animal exploitation, and more.
6 Best Tiger Sanctuaries in the U.S.
True tiger sanctuaries are not in the business of buying, selling, trading, breeding, borrowing, or loaning out their animals. Another way to ensure that the tiger sanctuary you want to support is legitimate is to see whether they are accredited or at least verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).
In no particular order, here are some of the best tiger sanctuaries in the U.S. that meet those criteria.
1. Performing Animal Welfare Society
ThePerforming Animal Welfare Society or PAWS is one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries in the country. It was founded in 1984 and has since become a forever home for abused, abandoned, and retired performing exotic animals.
They have three sanctuary locations across Northern California. The ARK 2000 is PAWS Sanctuary’s largest facility. The 2,300-acre land serves as a refuge for rescued tigers, lions, bears, and elephants.
2. The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Region: Rocky Mountains
The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a highly recognized and awarded organization. Aside from GFAS, it is also accredited by the American Sanctuary Association. One of The Wild Animal Sanctuary’s missions is to help educate people on issues regarding the captive wildlife crisis in America.
This sanctuary serves as a life-long home to tigers and other big cats, bears, wolves, and other large carnivores. The rescued animals are cared for in species-specific habitats built throughout the sanctuary’s three facilities, which have a combined land area of over 10,000 acres.
3. In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center
Aside from tigers, the sanctuary also takes in other big cats like lions and cougars, as well as exotic small cats like lynx, bobcats, and servals. All the animals in the In-Sync Exotics sanctuary are housed in expansive enclosures with entertainment facilities, like pools, high walkways, and toys to keep the wild cats busy.
4. Black Pine Animal Sanctuary
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, originally called the Professional Animal Retirement Center or PARC, was established in 2001. The facility is one of the few multi-species sanctuaries in the region. They have cared for over 250 animals since opening.
Black Pine Animal Sanctuary is home to nearly 100 wildlife species, including tigers, bears, wolves, reptiles, birds, and more. Most of the animals the sanctuary cares for were surrendered or confiscated by the authorities.
5. Carolina Tiger Rescue
State: North Carolina
TheCarolina Tiger Rescue is a well-known sanctuary that focuses on saving and protecting big cats that were rescued from captivity or were injured in the wild. The sanctuary currently provides a home to more than 50 tigers and big cats.
They rescue big cats that were abandoned, confiscated, or neglected all across the country. The Carolina Tiger Rescue also takes in animals from private or public animal facilities that have shut down.
6. Big Cat Rescue
Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL is one of the largest GFAS accredited sanctuaries dedicated to exotic cats. The sanctuary is home to several species of big and small cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, caracals, and ocelots.
Since 1992, Big Cat Rescue has worked tirelessly to rescue, protect, and nurture various wild cat species. Its residents are rescued from abandonment, performing acts, private owners, and the fur industry. The sanctuary also actively works to help eliminate trade and private possession of exotic cats through education and legislative measures.
Supporting tiger sanctuaries is a great way to raise awareness on tiger exploitation and help care for these endangered big cats. Finding true tiger sanctuaries can be a challenge, though. We hope our list will help you find the right organization to support!