The Big Cat Sanctuary

The Big Cat Sanctuary, Smarden: Hours, Address, The Big Cat Sanctuary Reviews: 5/5

The Big Cat Sanctuary
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
09:00 - 17:00
The Big Cat Sanctuary The Big Cat Sanctuary is a conservation charity, home to over 50 big and small cats across 16 different species. We are proud to have the most diverse collection in the UK, from the largest, to the smallest, to the most endangered in the world, hidden away in the Kent countryside. We are a centre of excellence whose primary objective is the breeding of some of the most endangered species on the planet as well as offering sanctuary to retired and homeless cats. The breeding centre is proud to be part of the EEP (European Endangered Species Breeding Programme). This is a body that regulates the captive breeding of endangered cats by making recommendations for breeding to produce a strong, healthy and diverse gene-pool within the captive population to ultimately be reintroduced safely into their natural habitat to mix with their counterparts in the wild. Breeding success so far includes the Amur leopard programme which is the world’s most endangered big cat, estimated between 70-80 remaining in the wild globally, also to the Sumatran tigers, Amur tigers and Pallas cats. Big Cat Sanctuary operates by way of personal big cat experiences including big cat tours, individual and group photography days, overnight big cat safari nights and adoptions. All of which need to be pre-booked in advance of a visit. The centre takes pride in delivering fully immersive, personal and amazing experiences that will leave any big cat lover with memories to treasure forever.
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1,032 reviews
Very good

Andrew S
London, UK423 contributions
Great experience
Sep 2021
Just returned from the overnight stay package at the Big Cat Sanctuary and delighted to provide very positive feedback on every aspect of our visit.

The price of the stay incorporates a donation to the charity running this sanctuary so its difficult to suggest "value for money" as such but we were delighted to help such a very good cause.

With regards to the extensive tours to look at the animals, we got close and personal and even had the opportunity to feed some of the big cats. All accompanied by James who provided an excellent dialogue. All in all a privileged access.

However, what exceeded our expectations was the welcome from every member of staff we encountered; the quality of the chalet we occupied and the excellence of the food. At every step we felt well looked after and that every member of the team really cared both for the cats themselves but also about providing a terrific experience for their guests.
Written 10 September 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Catherine W
Nerja, Spain3 contributions
Amazing Experience
Sep 2021
A birthday treat that I will never forget!

This place is amazing. I have never thought I could get so close to such beautiful big cats. Being able to hand feed two gorgeous creatures was unforgettable.

Our tour guide Marina was excellent.
She was so charismatic and a genuinely lovely person, who obviously really loved the cats. She was full of knowledge and gave us a real insight into the cats personalities.
It felt like she went above and beyond to give me a really special day and she really include my partner Mike who was there as a guest.
She picked two cats that I could feed based on what I had told her were my favourites and she made the experience truly amazing.
The tour should of taken 2 hours, but with her stories and humour we were still looking around and visiting the cats nearly 3 hours later. We were so late that the gift shop had closed! No sign of any commercial aspect at this sanctuary at all.
The whole experience could not of been any better, a truly wonderful experience.
Written 10 September 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Orpington, UK135 contributions
Love the big cats
Jun 2021 • Family
Booked an open day, had it reduced to half day but the place is an absolute gem. Approachable staff happy to answer any questions, great food and drink stands, wonderful gift shop and those beautiful elegant ,with a hint of menace , big cats how can you not love them?
Book when tickets come out it’s a great day out
Written 5 September 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Lesley B
Halifax, UK45 contributions
The most amazing experience!
Aug 2021 • Couples
Our visit to The Big Cat Sanctuary was a gift for my husband’s big birthday earlier this year. After being postponed twice due to COVID, we finally visited this week and can only say it was more than worth the wait.
From the minute we drove in through the gates, we were blown away with the welcome, the beautiful setting and the fantastic work the sanctuary does to care for animals both at the park and in support of charities protecting them in the wild.
We drove in and we’re immediately greeted by the sight of two stunning Jaguars right next to the car park.
All the staff we met were so friendly and knowledgeable about the cats. Their passion really showed.
The lodges are set in beautiful gardens. We stayed in Puma lodge which is for two people though is really spacious. The lodge is very well equipped with everything you could possibly need.
The accommodation is secondary though as the main attraction has to be the cats. Our visit started with afternoon tea in the restaurant which has large windows on to the enclosure of Kassanga, a beautiful lion. We could not believe it on being sat at our table as he was laid up to the window. We were as close to a lion as is possible, with just glass between us. What an experience! He enjoyed sunbathing there for most of our meal before going for a wander in his enclosure.
We then had a tour of half the sanctuary with Dan, a very knowledgeable keeper. We learnt so much about the different cats and saw them up close as he fed them. We all had a turn at feeding a tiger, using tongs to give her meat and her medication.
We enjoyed dinner back in the restaurant where Kassanga thrilled us by prowling by the window and stopping to roar just inches from us, a couple of times. Seeing such a powerful and beautiful animal so close is something we will never forget.
We retired to our lodge where we could hear the roars of the lion boys throughout the night. I sat on our veranda having an early morning coffee listening to them and it really did sound like they were next to me!
After breakfast back in the restaurant we enjoyed a tour of the other half of the sanctuary with the highlight of the visit, a chance to hand feed the big cat of our choice. My husband fed the stunning white tiger, Baikal, and I fed the white lion, Ngozi. I can’t describe the feeling of being so close as to pass a chicken drumstick in to the mouth if such powerful, amazing animals. It really is such a privilege to be able to be so close to them in an environment where they are protected and cared for so well.
The work the sanctuary does is so important. As part of the breeding programme they are ensuring endangered animals, some coming to them from being pets or circus animals, are able to live and, where appropriate, breed. The preparation to be part of the breeding programme where the Cubs are raised away from people so they are able to be safely released to protected areas in the wild is great to hear about.
We can’t recommend this visit enough. It is expensive but as a special occasion is really an unforgettable experience.
Written 27 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Paul A.
Watford, England, United Kingdom62 contributions
Aug 2021 • Family
Great staff, lodges clean, the food is really good. The big cats are fantastic and the guides are very knowledgable. Yes its not cheap but the money goes towards the conservation projects as well. Treat yourself you wont be disappointed
Written 26 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Alison D
Berkshire, UK5 contributions
Aug 2021
We stayed in the 2 bedroom lodge and from the minute we entered the gardens of the lodge it was a jaw dropping sight, so beautiful. The lodge was 5 star and big,had everything we could want and in a quiet beautiful setting. The staff were so friendly and the food like fine dining. The tours of the cats was such an amazing experience and unforgettable! Choice of cats to hand feed and we got to tong feed as well and are your stay you can look round on your own.
Written 23 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bristol, UK2 contributions
Overnight safari
Aug 2021 • Friends
Overnight safari experience exceeded all expectations. It was amazing, hand fed willow and had opportunity to give medication in food to you. Food was excellent, staff welcoming and well informed.
Written 14 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nicola S
Bolton, UK40 contributions
Willow and Maya Experience
Aug 2021 • Couples
We visited the sanctuary on Sunday the 10th Aug for the Willow and Maya experience. Arrived to a lovely welcome all the staff are so friendly was given a lovely cup of tea while they went through safety checks etc. Then met Hayley are guide who was lovely and very informative. So much to take in and we were both excited to see the cats up close. The feeding experience is amazing over quickly but forever in your memory. We also got to meet their new addition Inka the Jaguar cub who we could of watched for hours playing with mum. After a two hour tour we then went in the conservatory for a gorgeous lunch glass of prosseco and the company of a Kasanga the African lion. Perfect end to a fabulous experience. I’m sure we will return again sometime. Excellent facilities carpark and beautifully kept garden we did have drizzle that day but apparently the cats prefer it so happy days.
Written 10 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sue H
Liverpool, UK16 contributions
Great day out with the Big Cats
Jul 2021
Great day out for one of their open days. It was slightly more limited due to Covid restrictions in terms of entry times etc - but this was totally understandable and to be welcomed as a precautionary measure. Once inside, the experience was excellent. Very pleasant area to walk around, not overly crowded. Wonderful to see the lions and tigers 'up close'. The staff were helpful and knowledgeable. We were fortunate that the weather stayed good as this is very much an outdoor experience. Thoroughly recommend.
Written 9 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Silver surfers
1 contribution
Open Day
Aug 2021
Very disappointing visit. Having booked way back for the Open Day we were suddenly told in June that the day was being split in 2 and we were allocated afternoon session. With young children this was far from ideal. Car park opened at 2.10, we arrived 2.12 to find a large number of cars already present and a huge snaking queue. In my view there were far too many people present and it was very hard for small children to get a good view over adults.

Weather was awful which I appreciate no-one has control over but had the Open Day run as was originally advertised we would have gone early in the morning , children would have been less tired and weather would have been fine.

Would not go again.
Written 2 August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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