Become a Member

The Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance welcomes all groups who support the preservation and care of big cats to apply.

Why become a member?

  • Join a group of professionals dedicated to the welfare of captive big cats.
  • Speak with a strong, unified voice on behalf of captive big cats, including in the media.
  • Be identified with quality sanctuaries and organizations committed to big cat care and well-being.
  • Access to information sharing and best practices that benefit animals and organizations.
  • Involvement in advocacy efforts, from the local to federal level.
  • Serve on BCSA committees.
  • Collaborate on big cat rescues.
  • Attend professional development conferences.
  • Engage in professional networking opportunities.
  • Discount on BCSA annual conference registration.
  • Make a difference for captive big cats!

Sanctuary Member

An establishment that provides a place of refuge for abused, neglected, unwanted, impounded, abandoned, orphaned or displaced native (in the cases of non-releasable individuals) or exotic felines in need of lifetime care, or native wild cats held temporarily for rehabilitation/release. Sanctuary members need not care exclusively for wild cats.

Current membership levels include:

Full Membership is intended for organizations that meet all of the requirements for Big Cat          Sanctuary Alliance sanctuary membership and have obtained GFAS Accreditation or                  Verification.

Associate Membership is intended for organizations that meet all of the requirements for Big        Cat Sanctuary Alliance sanctuary membership but are not currently GFAS Accredited or          Verified facilities.

Membership qualifications for Sanctuary Members include the following (Please see the full membership application for more detailed requirements for Sanctuary Practices.):

  • Non-profit organization.
  • Holds the safety of the public, staff, and animals as the number one priority in all sanctuary operations and values.
  • Provides lifelong care for the animals.
  • Only accepts animals for which they have adequate resources (space, staff, and financial) to provide appropriate, long-term care.
  • Does not euthanize animals based on space availability.
  • Does not breed any animals.
  • Does not buy, sell, trade, auction, lease, or loan any animals owned by the organization.
  • Animals are not taken off-site for any purpose other than medical or emergency reasons.
  • Does not transfer animals to or from other facilities unless the transfer is for the welfare of the animal.
  • Provides access to appropriate veterinary care.
  • Strives to recognize when the needs of a specific exotic wild cat in their care cannot be met, and immediately moves to remedy the problem.
  • Provides humane care and maintains the dignity of each animal in life and death.
  • Does not engage in unprotected contact with dangerous wild animals, including but not limited to large felids, ursids, and apes, other than for medical emergencies. Unprotected contact is defined as entering an enclosure with an animal. There must always be at least one barrier (fence, wall, or closed door) between dangerous wild animals and staff, volunteers, and the public.
  • Does not engage in direct contact with dangerous wild animals for reasons other than medical or training purposes. Direct contact includes physical contact with an animal that takes place through a barrier, such as a fence.
  • Does not offer the public an opportunity to come into direct contact (e.g., touch, pet) with any wild animals.
  • Engages in activities and messaging that are aligned with the values and mission of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance.
  • Does not promote photographs or videos depicting inappropriate interactions between humans and wild animals. (For example, but not limited to, that wild animals are tractable or may make good pets.)
  • Does not perpetuate the exploitation of captive exotic felines by acquiring animals from individuals or organizations known to be private breeders or cub petting operations unless they agree to never participate in such behavior again or the animals come to the sanctuary as the result of a confiscation or other legal action.
  • Conducts guided tours with a strong educational message (if the sanctuary is open to the public).
  • Has received, within the last 3 years, at least one inspection report from one or more of the following: USDA, GFAS, ASA, and/or state agency. All reports within that time period have no significant findings impacting animal or human health or safety.
  • Obeys all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations for non-profit organizations and animal facilities.
  • Follows fundraising practices according to the AFP Code of Ethical Standards (see
  • Agrees to the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance Code of Conduct.


Don’t quite fit either of the current sanctuary membership levels? Stay tuned for more information on a new program to be established in late 2022: BCSA Sanctuary Start-Up Program (For individuals planning to open a sanctuary or in the first year or two of operation.)

Partner Member

An organization who supports the mission of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance through advocacy, funding, or professional services, or provides related services, such as rehabilitation of native wild cats. In addition, big cat sanctuaries that are located outside of the United States are considered Partner Members.

Membership qualifications for Partner Members include:

Membership Levels

Please view the requirements and benefits of various membership levels here.