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.


By Dawn Friedel 
Carolina Tiger Rescue adoptive parent and volunteer

As a frequent visitor of Carolina Tiger Rescue who has become an adoptive parent and enjoys teaching others about the animals here, I understand the organization’s mission first-hand. After one visit, it’s clear how Carolina Tiger Rescue helps captive wild cats. What may not be as transparent is how the rescue also helps those in the wild.

Through Carolina Tiger Rescue, I learned about another non-profit organization founded by Zoe Jewell and Sky Alibhai known as WildTrack, whose mission is to improve the monitoring of endangered species to help relieve human-wildlife conflict and counter-poaching. What does one have to do with the other? The animals, specifically the tigers, are the common thread.

WildTrack, which uses non-evasive research to monitor wildlife, has been working with Carolina Tiger Rescue for several years to build a database of tiger footprints. They currently have prints from more than 20 animals, which are the foundation for their software called FIT (Footprint Identification Technology). By collecting prints, they have been able to extract algorithms to identify tigers. They can determine the subspecies, age, sex, and individual animal all from an image of their footprint.

To collect the prints, WildTrack works with Carolina Tiger Rescue keepers to ensure safety for the animals and the people involved. The keepers select the animal most receptive to the process, often tigers who don’t mind people or who are more food-motivated. The tiger is lured into a separate part of their enclosure, which is then temporarily locked off. With the tiger safely secured, WildTrack volunteers flatten buckets of sand along one side of the enclosure they have safe access to.

Carolina Tiger Rescue resident walks a sand path to help WildTrack collect tracks

Want to help us celebrate International Tiger Day

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WildTrack team members collect non-evasive data from tiger tracks 

As the tiger walks, he or she leaves behind a set of tracks. Once complete, the tigers are shifted so the WildTrack team can evaluate the footprints, looking for good impressions of the left hind foot. The team places a ruler and ID tag near the print and takes a photograph. They typically repeat this process two or three times. 

Then, they load the photos gathered, each marked with 25 points based on the unique foot anatomy of the tiger. The FIT software analyzes the data to produce effective classification. A large library of prints is necessary to ensure accuracy.

Every month, the WildTrack team and their volunteers visit Carolina Tiger Rescue to collect data from one of the resident tigers.

Why do we need to monitor wildlife in the first place? The fragmentation, or breaking up, and destruction of habitat is a primary cause for the decline of wildlife populations in many regions of the world. Due to development or the removal of resources, critical habitat is often unwittingly harmed. By monitoring wildlife, scientists can determine the population, denning, feeding, wintering or travel areas for many species. By monitoring habitats in threatened regions through systematically searching for and recording animal tracks, evidence is obtained to make informed decisions about wildlife habitat stewardship.

Once I learned about the work of WildTrack, I became a volunteer. I get to accompany the team when they collect foot prints and learn the software to tag the photographs that build the database. Plus, I get to share what I have learned with fellow tiger enthusiasts who visit Carolina Tiger Rescue. This is just one example of how Carolina Tiger Rescue is saving and protecting cats in captivity and in the wild. They work with other research scientists too!

Carolina Tiger Rescue is celebrating International Tiger Day! Join our efforts to #savethetigers

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 info@carolinatigerrescue.org

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.

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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Lion at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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NGSD at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Porcupine at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Raccoon at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Red Wolf at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Red Wolves
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.