Providing a future for some of the most beautiful and endangered cats in the world...

Home to over 50 cats including African Lions, Sumatran Tigers, Jaguars, Amur Leopards and Snow Leopards to name just a few, we are located in the heart of the Kent countryside. The 32 acre plot began as a refuge for big cats that had been rescued from less than desirable homes, the site has now become a sanctuary and breeding centre that takes a personal approach to their wildlife residents.


Location: Kent, UK

The Big Cat Sanctuary is set in the heart of the countryside at Smarden, in Kent.

The peace and tranquillity of the site provides a sanctuary and excellent conditions for the successful breeding of the beautiful, yet endangered cats both large and small within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.



The Big Cat Sanctuary is located at Headcorn Road, Smarden, Kent and is set in 32 acres of grassland. There were a few big cats on the site prior to their arrival in 2000 and especially since they became a charity in 2004, They have succeeded in growing the collection and improving the site, for the benefit of both the cats and the visitors.


The Big Cat Sanctuary will always be indebted to Peter Sampson and the Sampson family. Their vision and support both personally and through the family-owned Paradise Wildlife Park has enabled the project to prosper and to become the leading collection of big cats in the country. Their financial and practical support has meant that we have been able to achieve the ambition of being a Conservation Centre of Excellence.

The conversion to Charity status of their parent organisation Wildlife Heritage Foundation (Charity number 1104420) has assisted enormously in attracting the funds we have needed both to improve their own site but also to assist in projects overseas.


Paradise Wildlife Park continues to use its own contacts and expertise in the breeding of Big Cats to generate interest in and support for  The Big Cat Sanctuary within zoo and conservation communities. This assistance has enabled the charity to bring together a first class collection of endangered Big cats with excellent breeding credentials within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programmes (EEPs).


The main improvements to the site in recent years have included a new entrance, driveway, and carpark, a visitor centre, a conference building and various new breeding enclosures.

  Organisation Insight

 The Big Cat Sanctuary has in excess of 50 cats including African lions, White lions, Amur leopards, North Chinese leopards, Snow leopards, Amur tigers, Sumatran tigers, Cheetah, Lynx, Fishing cats, Jaguars, Pallas cats, Pumas, Rusty Spotted cats, Jungle cats and Servals.


The Big Cat Sanctuary, was the vision of Peter Sampson and the Sampson family; great credit should be given to them for their enthusiasm and determination to bring this project alive and recognition of their enduring support and enthusiasm for the charity.

The charity has a Licence under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and is a member of BIAZA, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums and an associate member of EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

To raise much-needed funds the charity relies on donations and specialised experiences,


  Ranger for the Day

Big Cat Encounters

Photographic Workshops

Overnight Big Cat Safari Experience 

 Big Cat Adoptions.

Corporate events and activities

Team building activities




You can also apply to become a volunteer here 


The big cat sanctuary  were featured in the BBC’s documentary “Big Cats About The House”. The response has been amazing and you can catch up on episodes below.