Include The Big Cat Habitat In Your Sarasota Itinerary

Sarasota is a mid-sized city on the Florida Gulf Coast popular with tourists throughout the year. You’ll find a vibrant and eclectic art scene, along with fine dining and fascinating shops. Of course, the area is also known for its gorgeous and easily accessible beaches. 

You won’t have any problems finding fun activities on or near the beach. Fishing, boating, and biking on the sand are a few of the ways you can spend your days in Sarasota. With everything there is to see and do, it’s hard to make time for everything. However, there is one Sarasota attraction you want to include in your itinerary!

Sarasota Big Cat Habitat

The Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota is home to a variety of large and small animals. It’s open to the public, and it’s a favorite attraction for both residents and tourists. The family-friendly sanctuary offers several programs and events that allow you to meet the animals and learn a little more about them while having fun as a family.

All About Sarasota’s Big Cat Sanctuary

large tiger

The non-profit rescue organization started in 1987 with a goal to provide a safe and permanent home to exotic animals. The sanctuary relies solely on donations and admission fees to cover the costs of feeding and caring for the animals. Not only is a visit to the habitat a fun thing to do, but it also lets you give back to the community you’re temporarily staying in. 

It’s not only a sanctuary but also an education center. The programs focus on teaching visitors about the animals and promoting habitat conservation. Geared more for kids, the sanctuary works to instill respect for nature, both animal and plant, in all of their visitors. 

You won’t only find big cats at the sanctuary. Over 150 animals are living there. You can see lions and primates, along with the habitat’s three bears. Don’t forget to visit the giant tortoises that can eat six pounds of lettuce when they’re hungry. There’s even a rare liger, an animal that’s a cross between a male lion and a female tiger!

The habitat’s petting zoo is a fun place for kids to interact with goats and chickens. They also have llamas and emus.

Participate in One of the Sanctuary’s Programs

The Big Cat Habitat holds daily programs and events. They change throughout the year but are included in your admission fee. 

You can spend time with the sanctuary’s birds. There’s a daily program where you can interact with the different types, along with learning about the species. Everything from diet and habitat to their care is covered in the program. 

There’s also a daily big cat event. You can’t interact with the large animals, but you can watch the cats with their trainers from a safe distance. The program also focuses on preserving the animals and their habitats.

lions in an exhibit

Hours, Cost, and Location

The Big Cat Habitat is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. From Wednesday through Friday, you can tour the sanctuary between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Hours can change around the holidays, so it’s a good idea to check the habitat’s website. 

Children under the age of two are free. Tickets for kids ages 2 – 12 are $8, and everyone else is $18. These are current prices and can change without notice. You can also get an annual membership for one or a group. 

It’s only 15 miles from downtown Sarasota and about 40 minutes from Anna Maria Island. It’s close to Fruitville at 7101 Palmer Blvd.

cheetahs laying on each other

Spend an Afternoon Learning About Big Cats

You won’t be bored in Sarasota! It’s always fun relaxing on the beach, but you want to include this Sarasota attraction on your list. The Big Cat Habitat is a fun and educational animal sanctuary. It’s not far from downtown Sarasota or for vacationers staying on Anna Maria Island!