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.
1970s - Carnivore Evolutionary Research Institute
Carolina Tiger Rescue began as the Carnivore Evolutionary Research Institute, an organization founded in the 1970s by UNC geneticist Dr. Michael Bleyman. Dr Bleyman's intent was to breed lesser known carnivores that were keystone species - species critical to the survival of their ecosystem- thus keeping a viable population of these animals in trust until their home habitats were sufficiently protected to support them again.
1980s, 90s, and early 2000s - Carnivore Preservation Trust
The Carnivore Evolutionary Research Institute was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1981, and its name was changed to the Carnivore Preservation Trust (CPT). Due to its experience in working with wildcats, people began to approach CPT to take in large cats that needed a home, and CPT began accepting these animals. CPT became well known for its success in breeding certain species- particularly servals, ocelots, and binturongs. Dr. Bleyman passed away in 1996 of cancer.
As the environmental community began to appreciate the plight of these lesser known carnivores, they began to create species survival plans- organized plans for the species survival, including genetic registries to ensure diversity in the captive population. Because this strategy addressed the need to save the species represented at CPT, the organization ceased its breeding program in 2000, but continued to send animals to other locations to take part in these programs.
However, the need for homes for displaced wildcats continued to grow. CPT refocused its mission to rescue, and began developing the infrastructure to accommodate abused and neglected wildcats, including the construction of a quarantine facility and the development of an animal management plan to define guidelines for future rescues.
2009 - Carolina Tiger Rescue
In 2009, the organization changed its name to Carolina Tiger Rescue, reflecting its new mission and focus. Today, Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildcat sanctuary, whose mission is saving and protecting wildcats in captivity and in the wild. Carolina Tiger Rescue pursues its mission by providing lifelong homes to wildcats in need of rescue and educating the public about what threatens these animals: in the wild, in the pet trade, and in the entertainment industry.
More than 13,000 people visit Carolina Tiger Rescue each year, learning about the issues affecting wildcats through guided tours and field trips. Research projects at Carolina Tiger Rescue are assisting conservation efforts in the wild and providing valuable information to colleges around the country about the rainforest habitat and about species represented at the facility. Carolina Tiger Rescue provides internships for students from around the country, and provides community service opportunities to the local community.