There is a lot of false information floating around about what a legitimate big cat sanctuary entails. The word “Sanctuary” is used loosely in America, but there are many things YOU can do to make sure your time and money are being spent at facilities that actually fall into the legitimate category. Pseudo-sanctuaries take money away from legitimate ones and only make conservation efforts harder.
Start by asking these simple questions:
1) Look for accreditations! GFAS and ASA accreditations are quick guides to proper sanctuaries that exhibit a higher standard of care than a general USDA inspection
2) Is the facility buying animals? Why? And Where are they coming from?
3) Is the facility breeding animals? WHY? And what are they doing with them? Are they breeding hybrids?
4) Does the facility always seem to have babies around? How do those baby animals spend their time?
5) Have they had a lot of animals mysteriously disappear?
6) Are they transparent about what goes on within the facility? Or do they get angry when you start asking questions?
7) How big are the animals’ habitats?
8) Is the public allowed to interact with the dangerous animals? Does the staff?
9) What is their rating on websites like https://greatnonprofits.org/ and https://www.charitynavigator.org/
10) DO RESEARCH! It is so important to vet a facility before going
11) Does this facility have big cats? Is this facility a member of The Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance? Why not?
A GREAT resource with a quick member guide is The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) (mentioned above)
ASK QUESTIONS! Support facilities that put the animals first.