30 big cats at Brevard County facility to be moved to St. Cloud

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30 big cats at Brevard County facility to be moved to St. Cloud

by: Lauren Seabrook Updated: Jun 28, 2017 – 5:41 PM

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Thirty big cats, including lions, tigers, cougars and leopards, will soon be traveling 52 miles across Central Florida.

Neighborhoods and developments near the Central Florida Animal Reserve in Cocoa forced the county to change the zoning from agricultural to residential, so the county asked that the facility be moved.

Since then, the organization has raised about $1.3 million to build a new facility in St. Cloud.

Staff member Phyllis Parks said the new location will be better for the staff and the cats.

“We don’t have room to expand. We cannot take in any additional cats. We can get back into rescuing. We will also be able to give them a much higher quality of life,” she said.

Photos: Big cats at the Central Florida Animal Reserve 

Parks said county officials have been patient with the process.

“They’ve given us extensions when we’ve needed it. They’ve been understanding when financing wasn’t going the way it should, when construction doesn’t go the way it should,” she said. “The county of Brevard has been just wonderful cooperating with us.”

At the new facility, which is six-times bigger than the current one, the cats will be in bigger enclosures.

Read: Big cats returned to California sanctuary threatened by fire

Some of the species of cats are endangered and workers want to make sure the animals are getting the best care possible.

The plan is to have private tours for education purposes at the Osceola County facility.

© 2017 Cox Media Group.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

“If we don’t protect them in captivity, there will be none in the wild. So it’s necessary to make people aware of what a big cat is like, of what a tiger is. If you don’t see one, you’re not going to care if it goes away,” said Parks.

Read: Florida panther deaths still at record-high for 2016

She said they’ll load and unload the cats inside a locked and enclosed fence.

Officials with the Department of Agriculture and Florida Fish and Wildlife agents will monitor the move.

The rescue hopes to raise another $25,000 for more vet services to make sure each cat is healthy enough for the road trip.

“It’s going to be a stressful and expensive proposition, so we need as much help as we can get,” Parks said.

The move is expected to happen at the end of the summer.

The funding for the new facility came from private donations and grants.

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