June 2019, I visited the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent with my sister and 2 of her friends. It was the BEST time.
We stayed overnight in the Jaguar Lodge, got to have all our drinks and meals next to two of the most beautiful lions, toured the sanctuary and even got to help feed a few of the cats. I got to hand-feed a tiger which was literally a dream come true for me – Tigers are easily my favourite animals ever.
The Big Cat Sanctuary is home to over 50 beautiful cats, big and small! The work they do is incredible and important: they provide homes for cats rescued from private homes or circuses where they weren’t looked after, are dedicated to conservation and the healthy breeding of endangered species of cats, and donate a hell of a lot of money and provide support to help cats in the wild all over the world.
Since I posted photos a few of you have asked questions about this place on Twitter and in DMs so I feel I should clarify: The animals are all incredibly healthy, happy and well looked after. Their welfare comes first and, since the sanctuary is only open to small groups at a time, the animals are never overwhelmed by the public like they are in larger zoos. They have a quiet, calm home with plenty of space and fun things to do. The animals are never drugged or sedated in anyway – all the hand-feeding we did was a result of the animals being confident, comfortable and happy in their homes and trusting the keepers.
These beautiful boys are called Kasanga, Manzi and Tiny. They’re African Lions. Our first stop was to have afternoon tea with sandwiches, cakes and a cheeky glass of Prosecco next to their enclosure. It was the most amazing experience to get to see them so close and watch (and hear!) them interact with each other.
There was also one male white lion and 6 females. White lions are absolutely beautiful and are born thanks to a rare genetic mutation among some African Lions. White lions, just like white tigers, aren’t albino – they still have some colour pigment particualrly in their eyes, their fur just has less pigment than normal.
The problem is, because there are so few white lions, the gene pool is very limited. If they were to breed, there’s a high chance of problems with the offspring which is why most aren’t bred anymore.
Tigers are my absolute favourite animals of all time.