Carolina Tiger Rescue, formerly the Carnivore Preservation Trust, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.

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Frequently Asked Questions




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Can I come see your animals? Is the only way to see them on a guided tour?

Yes! We offer guided public tours on the weekends throughout the year by online ticket purchase, and field trips and private tours during the week by reservation (requires 2 weeks advance notice).

You do have to be escorted by a trained staff member or volunteer at all times while visiting the animals. Carolina Tiger Rescue was designed to ensure that the animals stay in their enclosures; however, there are not the same barriers to control the public as you may see in a zoo. You will be able to get much closer to the animals, and because tours represent an interactive time in the animals' routine, the animals are more responsive to you. Guided visits also allow us to explain more about the circumstances that have affected each animal individually and the species they represent.

How is the Twilight Tour different from other tours?

In their wild habitats, wildcats typically hunt at dawn and dusk and are more active at night- so the animals do tend to be more active at this time. This tour is after operating hours; the lack of animal care traffic makes for a more intimate experience. The tour is geared towards adults (open to ages 13 and up). The animals included on the tour and the length of the tour are similar to the public tours.

What makes you different from a zoo?

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a refuge, providing animals a safe, comfortable home for the remainder of their lives. Zoos generally do not acquire animals from the public. Visitors to Carolina Tiger Rescue are escorted by a trained staff or volunteers.

When is the best time to see the animals?

Wildcats are most active at dusk and dawn, and often sleep during the day. They are also more active when the temperature is cooler- they prefer to be active at the same temperatures that we do. Here, they tend to take a siesta after their meal- just like we like to do! The animals are more likely to be active during the morning tour and the Twilight Tour. However, because the animals are not being observed throughout the day, and the tour is a "break" in their routine, they are generally more active than animals in a zoo.

Will I get to see an animal feeding during my tour?

Not necessarily. The schedule for feeding the animals is independent of the tour schedule, and occasionally the Keepers will be feeding during a tour. Tour guides can provide "treats" for the animals during their tour, but this is left at the discretion of the guide. Many guides prefer that the animals exhibit a more natural behavior during their tour.

Carolina Tiger Rescue does offer a "Feeding with a Keeper" experience, where visitors may escort a Keeper during feeding.

May I take photos of your animals?

Tour guests take photos/video of the animals once they have signed the Visitor Release (which includes a photo release). The release allows you to retain copyright to photos/video that you take; but if you supply those photos to Carolina Tiger, Carolina Tiger is licensed to use those images.

You (and your camera) must remain behind the rope barrier to take your photos.

Is the sanctuary wheelchair accessible?

The education building is wheelchair accessible; however the sanctuary itself is not wheel-chair friendly. The roads are gravel and there are two hills that might be particularly troublesome.

If you have mobility issues, purchase your ticket, then call (919) 542-4684 and let us know you will need assistance for your tour, and we will provide an alternative for you.

How do I reschedule or get a refund for tour tickets purchased online?

We do not offer refunds or exchanges on tour tickets; however, we understand that extenuating circumstances may prevent someone from attending their tour. You may appeal that policy with our Executive Director, and she will evaluate these situations on a case-by-case basis.

The tour is listed as "SOLD OUT". Is there any other way to get tickets for that tour?


When I try to purchase tickets I get "Level Inventory Out of Stock" What's going on?

You are attempting to purchase more tickets than are available for that tour. We cannot increase the size of the tour group. You will either need to reduce the size of your group or schedule for a different tour.

When I try to purchase tickets, the tour shows as "Online ticket sales for this event have ended". Can I get on this tour?"

Carolina Tiger closes online ticket sales one hour prior to the start time of a tour, so that our guide will have an accurate list of expected guests. The amount of spaces left is displayed just above the different ticket levels. If there are spaces remaining on a tour, you may inquire about their availability by calling (919) 542-4684. Staff will handle any ticket purchases and inform the guide of any last minute guests.

If you receive this message and are not trying to purchase less than an hour before the scheduled tour time, there may be another reason for this notification. Call (919) 542-4684 for more information about the status of this tour.

I'm running late for my tour, is that OK?

If you are more than 5 minutes late for your tour, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to join the group. Please try to arrive the 15 minutes early that we suggest.


What is a "sanctuary"?

The federal definition of a "sanctuary" as it applies to lions, tigers, leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, and any hybrids of those species was established by the Captive Wildlife Safety Act in 2003. The qualifications for a "sanctuary" under these guidelines are:

  • Must be a non-profit entity that is tax exempt under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Cannot engage in commercial trade in big cat species, including their offspring, parts, and products made from them
  • Cannot breed big cats
  • Cannot allow direct contact between big cats and the public at their facilities
  • Must keep records of transactions involving covered cats
  • Must allow the Service to inspect their facilities, records, and animals at reasonable hours

There are numerous facilities that refer to themselves as a sanctuary, with a broad spectrum in the quality of their animal care. Carolina Tiger Rescue encourages the public to educate themselves about the issues faced by wildcats in captivity before visiting and supporting any wildcat "sanctuary".

How to you acquire your animals?

Many of our small cats and binturongs were part of a captive breeding program for underrepresented, threatened, and endangered species of carnivores during our history as a breeding facility. Carolina Tiger Rescue stopped breeding in 2000. Our big cats and some of our smaller animals were rescued, primarily from the exotic pet trade. Visit our Rescue page to find out why wildcats need rescue.

Who started Carolina Tiger Rescue and why?

Carolina Tiger Rescue began as the Carnivore Evolutionary Research Insititute in the 1970s, an organization founded by UNC geneticist Dr. Michael Bleyman to ensure the survival of specific keystone species from threatened/endangered ecosystems. He started a breeding program for caracals, servals, ocelots, and binturongs. He began rescuing big cats when the need for a sanctuary became apparent.

The Carnivore Evolutionary Research Institute was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1981, and the name was changed to the Carnivore Preservation Trust (CPT). CPT stopped its breeding program in 2000, and refocused its efforts on rescue. In 2009, CPT's name was changed to Carolina Tiger Rescue, reflecting its current mission and focus.

If your animals are endangered species, why did Carolina Tiger Rescue stop its breeding program?

The species that Carolina Tiger Rescue (then the Carnivore Preservation Trust) bred in the past are now bred at other facillities in accordance with Species Survival and Population Management Plans- plans devised by the environmental community to ensure genetic diversity in the captive population. For most of the species represented at Carolina Tiger Rescue, the primary threat to their survival in the wild is habitat loss- there is no place to release these species where they would be safe. Rather than breed wild animals that would live their lives in captivity, the organization devoted its resources towards rescue and conservation education. Carolina Tiger Rescue continues to participate in Species Survival Plans by lending or donating animals to other facilities that are breeding in accordance with those plans

What do your animals eat?

Carolina Tiger Rescue's animals are on a whole carcass diet supplemented with vitamins. Small cats are fed chicken quarters, rats, or mice. Big cats eat anywhere from ten to fifteen whole chickens a week that are donated from a local chicken plant. The binturongs and kinkajous eat a mixture of fruit supplemented with a source of protein (mice or dog food).

If your animals are carnivores, why do you have fruit eaters?

The word "carnivore" has two meanings. The first refers to the diet of an animal. A carnivorous animal eats meat. The second meaning refers to members of the order Carnivora. Members of this order all possess a specific set of teeth called the carnassial pair. These teeth originally evolved as sharp and pointy to shear meat and tendon. Some members of the order Carnivora have further evolved these teeth for specialized diets, including the binturong and the kinkajou- Carolina Tiger Rescue's fruit-eaters. Carolina Tiger Rescue's animals are members of the order Carnivora.

Why don't you have some wildcat species?

Carolina Tiger Rescue is foremost a rescue facility, and as such accepts wildcats that need a home. In its history, the facility has had a lion, cougars, leopards, margays, and more. However, tigers are by far the most common big cat in the pet trade, and are most likely to need a home. Some species do require resources to ensure a comfortable life that Carolina Tiger Rescue currently does not have, such as a cold-climate facility for lynx or snow leopards. Carolina Tiger Rescue would be willing to accept these species if funds are raised to add the infrastructure that those animals would need.

If I know of a wildcat that needs a home, what should I do?

If you know of a wildcat that needs a home, please contact our Curator of Animals at (919)542-4684.

There is a cougar/bobcat where I live, what should I do?

Carolina Tiger Rescue believes that the ideal home for wildlife is in their natural habitat, and cougars and bobcats are both native to North Carolina. Please review the "Sharing the Habitat with Pumas" guidelines put out by the Felidae Conservation Fund

How big is Carolina Tiger Rescue?

55 acres

How many animals to you have?

Approximately 70-80 animals of 10 different species: tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, caracals, servals, ocelots, bobcats, binturongs, and kinkajous

How many people work at Carolina Tiger Rescue?

Carolina Tiger Rescue currently employs 10 full-time and 6 part-time staff, including 2 veterinarians. However, Carolina Tiger Rescue has approximately 150 active volunteers that are essential to its operation, assisting in animal care, tour guiding, construction, office support, gift shop support, event planning, and other areas as well.

Could I get tiger manure from Carolina Tiger Rescue to deter deer?

No, Carolina Tiger cannot provide manure to the public because of local waste disposal laws. These laws were put into place because carnivore manure has a higher concentration of bacteria and parasites that could be harmful. That said, the idea that tiger manure discourages deer is most likely a myth, and certainly the deer in the area do not seem concerned about the close presence of large exotic predators.


I have a Membership. How do I sign up for my free tours?

To sign up for a tour with your Membership, go to the Tour Tickets link in the right sidebar to select your tour. Select "Member Ticket" instead of Adult or Child ticket. During the purchase process, you will be asked for your Member Code- which is your Member number. (Example seen in this screenshot. Enter your number in the box indicated by the red arrow). Then simply complete the purchase process for your "free" ticket!

When will I get my Membership package?

The time it takes to receive your membership package can vary from one week during non-peak times to three weeks during peak and holiday seasons. If you have not received your package yet, you may request your membership code via email in order to purchase free or reduced price tour tickets. To request your code, or if you haven’t received your package within three weeks of purchase, please email the Membership Coordinator.

Can friends or family members use my membership card?

No, your membership card and associated privileges are not transferable to any other individual or family. Only those adults named on the membership card(s) may be admitted free of charge. With a family membership, free tickets are restricted to up to 4 children under age 18 living in the same household. Family Plus members get free tickets for an additional 2 children under age 18 from any household. We may ask to see your membership card and photo ID at the time of your visit. Please encourage your friends & family to join so they can also enjoy membership benefits.

Does the membership run a calendar year (January thru December) or from the date of purchase?

The membership is valid for one year from the date of purchase. Gift memberships may be set up to be valid for one year from the date of the special occasion (i.e. birthday, graduation, or holiday) if indicated at time of purchase.

My membership card has been lost or stolen. Can I request a new card?

Yes, please email the Membership Coordinator to request a replacement card

Will I have to show my membership card and photo I.D. when I use my free or discounted member tickets or request the 10% gift shop discount?

To prevent misuse of your membership, we may ask you to show your membership card and a photo I.D. We appreciate your understanding. As a nonprofit organization, we rely heavily on memberships and tour income for support.

Is my membership tax deductible?

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a charitable 501 (c) 3 organization, so this contribution may be fully deductible depending on your personal tax situation. Please consult your tax advisor.

Do I automatically become a member if I donate to Carolina Tiger Rescue?

No, only people who purchase a membership are members and receive exclusive membership benefits.

What do I get when I renew a membership?

You get the same great membership benefits as new members including email and invitations to events exclusive to our Carolina Tiger Rescue family. You get another year of free tours and gift shop discounts. You will receive a new membership card(s) in the mail. If you need another member decal for your car, just ask and we’ll be happy to send it along with your new card(s).

The membership I purchased comes with a promotional benefit (guest pass, coupon, etc). When will I receive my benefit?

Carolina Tiger does frequently offer some form of promotional benefit during a membership drive- these may vary. Promotional benefits are mailed with the membership card(s).

Can I still use a promotional benefit (varies yearly: guest pass, coupon) if it was left at home/misplaced/lost? Can the benefit be replaced?

No, you must have the benefit with you in order to use it. We are unable to replace promotional benefits.

My promotional benefit (guest pass, coupon) has expired. Can I still use it?

No, promotional benefits must be used before the expiration date. If you have questions or would like more information about your new or current membership, please contact our Membership Coordinator.

How to Help

How can I help?

Visit "How to Help" in the site menu. You will find information about helping an animal through the adoption program, about donating to specific projects, what items Carolina Tiger Rescue needs, how you can volunteer your time, and what your business can do to contribute.

Where does Carolina Tiger Rescue get its funding?

Carolina Tiger Rescue is primarily funded by donations from individuals, private foundations such as Earth Share of North Carolina, and corporate sponsors. Additional funding also comes from tour fees and merchandise sales.

Is Carolina Tiger Rescue a tax exempt organization? What is your nonprofit tax ID number?

Yes, under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, operating under the legal name of "Carnivore Preservation, Inc.", Carolina Tiger Rescue's tax ID number is 56-1522499

Is my gift to Carolina Tiger Rescue tax deductible?

Gifts to Carolina Tiger Rescue qualify for tax exemption under the above-referenced IRS code. You should always check with your tax adviser regarding your personal circumstances and whether a particular gift will be deductible.

Do you accept donated deer?

Yes. Carolina Tiger Rescue does accept donated deer to feed the animals under specific circumstances. Hunters may donate deer, provided that the carcass has been kept under suitable conditions so that the meat has not spoiled. Roadkill deer are only acceptable if the person donating the deer witnessed the deer getting hit, and the carcass is fresh. Please call (919) 542-4684 to ask if your deer is suitable for donating.