Tessa Stripes is our newest animal keeper here at Carolina Tiger Rescue. She studied wildlife biology at Virginia Tech. Before coming to Carolina Tiger Rescue, she interned at Wildlife Safari. Her favorite animals to work with are tigers! She enjoys giving the animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue a safe and appropriate home for them. It’s a hard and dirty job, but she loves it! Her favorite time of year at the rescue is the fall, when all the animals get pumpkins for enrichment!

Keeper Tessa’s Blog 3/22/19

Feeding is always an exciting time in the sanctuary. The animals get really excited when they hear the food truck being loaded up! Today, I am going focus on how, what, and when we feed our big cats, then later I will talk about how we feed our small cats. Of course, we can’t forget about our last two species, the kinkajous and coatimundi! Dr. Chloe Wilde discussed feeding kinkajous and we will get to the coatimundi as well, I promise!

But today, we are going to focus on feeding the big cats. Now, there are a couple different ways you can classify big cats. Here at Carolina Tiger Rescue, we classify big cats by the sounds they make. Big cats roar and small cats purr! The big cats we have here are the tigers, lions, and leopard. Cougars are not big cats because they purr, but we feed them on a big cat schedule because of their size. Big cats get fed five days a week here at Carolina Tiger Rescue; the days they do not eat are called fasting days. They do not eat on Tuesdays, and then depending on the schedule for the week, they will fast either Friday or Saturday. The reason for fasting is because big cats do not eat every day in the wild. They take down larger prey which they will gorge themselves on and this will keep them satisfied for a couple days. They also are not always able to catch prey! Tigers for example, on average, are only able to take down prey about 10% of the time, so when they do catch prey they will eat as much as they can immediately! Our cats, though, don’t have to worry about hunting, they are prescribed an appropriate amount of food by our vet and fed on a regular basis which helps keep them at a healthy weight!

Now you may be asking how we feed our big cats, which would be an excellent question! Safety, of course, is our number one priority here at Carolina Tiger Rescue. We want to be sure that not only the people are safe, but that the animals are safe as well. Sometimes, that means feeding our animals on a treat stick, like I did for Fenimore in the picture above. Fenimore sometimes regurgitates his food and requires the food to be fed to him in smaller chunks at a slower rate to help prevent him from regurgitating. Most of the time though, we feed our big cats through their large food chutes like the one in this picture. This food chute is mounted on the outside of the enclosure and goes through the fence so the food can be dropped on the outside and falls on the inside of the enclosure. When we drop the food down, we have to make sure the food does not get stuck, which is what I am doing in this picture. Madonna is watching very closely though isn’t she? We never put any of our arms down the food chute to ensure the animal cannot get us.

As I said earlier, the amount of food an animal is given is based on their body condition and our vet decides what is best for them. We have some big cats, like Anthony Leopard, who receive 3/4 of a chicken at feeding time, which is about 4 pounds of meat. Our biggest guy, Caprichio Tiger, receives between 12 and 18 pounds of meat five days a week, it just depends on the day. Caprichio eats about 90 pounds of food a week! That’s a whole lot of meat!

Well, it’s time for me to get back to work. Later, I will tell you about how we feed our small cats!

About Carolina Tiger Rescue

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.

Carolina Tiger Rescue

1940 Hanks Chapel Rd.
Pittsboro, NC 27312
(919) 542-4684
(919) 542-4454

Wildlife should be in the Wild



  • We believe the ideal home for wildlife is in the wild.
  • We believe it is critical to conserve their native habitats.
  • We believe wild animals should not be kept as pets.
  • We believe captive breeding should ONLY be done in accordance with Species Survival plans.
  • We believe all wild animals, both captive and in their native habitats, deserve to be treated with respect and not exploited for entertainment and commercial purposes.

Visit Carolina Tiger Rescue

Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Public Tours

Twilight Tours

Coming out for a tour is a great way to learn more about the animals that call Carolina Tiger Recue home. We offer many different types of tours.  Public tours are great for adults and families. Twilight tours are for adults only (18 years of age and older). Tiger Tales are a perfect option if you want to bring out really young children. Find the tour that is right for you and enjoy a walk through the sanctuary. 

For all tours, tickets must be purchased in advance.

Have Fun Learning at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Field Trips

Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips link

Virtual Field Trips

Education is key to our mission.  We enjoy teaching “kids” of all ages!  Our field trips, both virtual and onsite, are ideal for groups of kids.  Our “Kid for a Day” Adult Camp provides a unique learning opportunity while allowing adults to channel their inner child.  While all of these opportunities are structured differently, in the end we want everyone to walk away knowing more about the animals we care for and what they can do to help protect them.

Our Rescues
Bobcat at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Caracal at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Coatimundi at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Cougar at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Kinkajou at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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In Memoriam
Leopard at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Lion at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Ocelot at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Serval at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Keeper Stripes

Get involved at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual Volunteering

Group volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Group Volunteering

There are so many ways to be a part of Carolina  Tiger Rescue.  Individual volunteers are able to help in many aspects of our work, including animal care, tour guides, construction, and gift shop assistance.  Work groups come from community groups, colleges, work places, and more!  It’s a great way to spend a day and it helps care for the cats.

Ways to Support Carolina Tiger Rescue

Donate to Carolina Tiger Rescue


Big Cat Dinner Club Information

Big Cat Dinner Club

Whether it’s a monthly donation or a one-time gift, a symbolic animal adoption, a gift to the Big Cat Dinner Club, or any other kind of donation, your contribution to Carolina Tiger Rescue goes straight to work helping to save wild cats in need.  Don’t see what you are looking for, our development staff can help you find a meaningful way to support the cats!