Ready for a field trip, Raleigh? Hop in your car, and ~40 minutes later you can be in front of a 700-pound tiger at the Carolina Tiger Rescue. That’s right, NC has its own tiger rescue that’s home to 39 animals — ranging from white tigers to kinkajous.
Carolina Tiger Rescue is a big cat sanctuary, which means the rescue meets certain qualifications outlined by the federal Captive Wildlife Safety Act, like not breeding big cats + not allowing direct contact between visitors and animals.
The organization got its start in the 1970s, and really became focused on rescue + conservation education around 2002 — long before Joe Exotic graced America’s TV screens.
The Netflix series featuring Joe — Tiger King — brought national attention to the topic of tiger captivity in the United States at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Louise Orr, a director at Carolina Tiger Rescue, said the show brought more interest to the rescue.
“While we weren’t thrilled about the lack of information the show provided about the plight of big cats in the US,” Louise said. “We’re glad to have the opportunity to set the record straight + clear up confusion or misinformation from the show.”
Carolina Tiger Rescue is currently offering weekend public tours, which are now back at full capacity. Guests over 2 years old are required to wear a mask while on the property for the safety of everyone — including the cats who are able to contract COVID-19, Louise said.
The rescue also offers special Twilight Tours from now until October, where you are the only people in the sanctuary. During this time of day, animals often engage in behaviors that you might not see during the day. You can find out more information + schedule a tour here.