Everyone familiar with the plight of tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs and other big cats at the hands of uncaring and often unconscionable owners appreciates the work of our nation’s sanctuaries to rescue abused and neglected animals. 

Reputable sanctuaries are spread out across the country. Although they vary in size, with some caring for only a few big cats and others taking care of many more, the legitimate and recognized sanctuaries provide the highest quality care for the animals. The best ones are committed to offering the highest standards of veterinary care, rehabilitation, housing and providing for the animals’ quality of life.

The founders and owners of the nation’s big cat sanctuaries are compassionate people who started their nonprofit organizations because they care deeply about animals. Their stories are almost uniformly similar: they learned of a suffering tiger, lion or other big cat in need of care, and they just had to act to save it. From the initial rescue and housing of one or two animals, their sanctuaries grew because the distress calls for help and rescue never end.

Sanctuary directors know, however, that taking in additional animals inevitably diminishes the available financial resources to care for the cats they already have. Accepting even one more tiger, or one more lion, is just impossible. Also, how does the sanctuary physically rescuethe suffering animal? Who will take care of the existing animals for the day or two that it may take to drive 500 miles to retrieve the animal? What about the expenses to get the animal and, then, all of the emergency veterinary, food and care expenses when the tiger arrives? 

This is the background for the creation of Great Cats in Crisis. Zoos are not in the business of rescuing abused and neglected animals and only sanctuaries could help.  But what are the sanctuaries to do when a law enforcement agent or game warden calls about an animal in distress? Saying no forces an animal to endure its suffering; but saying yes jeopardizes the quality of care for the animals already at the sanctuary.

Great Cats in Crisis was established to provide assistance for the immediate emergency relief and rescue of abused big cats. In 2001 Great Cats in Crisis was formed when a group of sanctuaries—led by Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler, Texas—decided that a national emergency relief organization was needed to respond immediately to save cats in crisis.

Programs and Activities:

Great Cats in Crisis accomplishes its mission through the following activities:

  • A national hotline internet and phone connection are available for all law enforcement officers, game wardens, animal protection and safety officials who are immediately notified when the abuse and neglect of a big cat is make known. The hotline allows the official to contact GCC and initiate the rescue process. GCC has already registered its website as GreatCats.org. Without these resources, the local game warden or animal protection officer would be at a loss to find a rescue outlet and often, reluctantly, recommends euthanizing the distressed animal.

  • The Great Cats Emergency Relief Fund makes immediate cash awards to approved sanctuaries to rescue and care for abused cats. The Fund covers up to $2,000 for on-site emergency services, up to $5,000 for transporting the abused animal, up to $3,000 for veterinarian  ICU stabilization care, up to $12,000 for construction materials for a new habitat and up to $2,000 for food for a year. 

  • The Great Cats in Crisis Participating Organizations Registry is a listing of approved pre-registered sanctuaries and rescues qualified and committed to providing emergency relief. With financial support provided by GCC, the participating sanctuaries have the opportunity to care for a suffering animal during that critical transitional first year. This establishes a baseline for continued care and well-being.