Tiger Face

The Best Wildlife Encounter in Jacksonville: Catty Shack Ranch

When visiting Amelia Island, there are so many exciting activities that you can partake in from kayaking tours to farmers’ markets. Right off of the coast of northern Florida, just an hour from Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a beautiful, coastal destination offering something for everyone. You can spend the entire trip on the island, relaxing and exploring, but you should plan to make at least one trip to the mainland to experience the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of the most unique things to do in the area as you can take a tour and get up-close and personal with endangered big cats like tigers, leopards, and lions along with other exotic animals.

If you’re looking for even more to do during your stay on Amelia Island, be sure to request access to our complimentary Vacation Guide! This handy travel planner covers everything you need to know about where to dine, shop, and play.

What To Expect at the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

History of the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary

The Catty Shack Ranch and Wildlife Sanctuary began in 2000 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of caring for and educating others on endangered big cat species. Four years later, the sanctuary was granted permission to allow visitors into the area to witness and learn about the animals seeking refuge here. Curt LoGiudice, the director and curator of the sanctuary, began working with animals in 1982 training police dogs before learning to work with exotic animals. Since then, he’s been able to create a special bond between himself and these animals that are often thought to be vicious creatures. Through the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary’s work, these animals are getting a better life and more people are learning how to respect such beautiful animals.

Planning to Visit

If you’d like to visit the sanctuary, you can check the schedule for availability. Although the sanctuary tries to be open every day for at least one tour, because their staff is volunteer-only, it sometimes depends on different people’s schedules. The day time tour is fun and informative, but you can also choose to go during a night feeding tour. You’ll still receive the same guided tour of the property before being left to wander around and admire the animals. However, before the end of the tour, you can witness how these large, carnivorous animals eat. You may even get to hear a real lion’s roar. On the weekend, sometimes they host a special yoga with tigers event for a truly unique experience. You can also check for seasonal events like the Haunted Forest.

Come Home to the Fairbanks House

After a day on the mainland exploring the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, you’ll be looking for the perfect place to rest your head. The Fairbanks House is a gorgeous property on Amelia Island with all the amenities you could ask for including complimentary gourmet breakfast, a gorgeous in-ground pool, cruiser bikes you can take for a spin around the island, and even a nightly social hour with alcoholic beverages and snacks. You might even encounter some of the cats that make their home around our property!

So, what are you waiting for? Check our availability and book your stay today!