Sebastian Lion


January 1, 2002

November 12, 2010

Passed away
December 18, 2019

Sebastian’s Story

Sebastian was originally used in a haunted house in Texas. He, along with tigers, bears, and wolves, was used as part of the décor in the haunted house. His owner died prematurely and left his animals in his parents’ care and they decided not to keep the big cats and bears and sent the animals to the Wild Animal Orphanage (WAO) in Texas. WAO shut down in 2010 and over 300 animals had to be rehomed. Carolina Tiger Rescue rescued ten animals, including three lions and seven tigers. Sebastian is known for his large size. He was the largest of all our lions at Carolina Tiger Rescue, weighing in at around 475 pounds. He did not have a mane because he was neutered. When a male lion is neutered, they lose their mane because they lose their ability to make testosterone.

Sebastian’s Passing

December 20, 2019

We had to say goodbye to Sebastian Lion this week. We have been monitoring Sebastian for the past few months after we noticed him having some difficulty walking. We soon realized that he was losing feeling in his back legs. This is not uncommon in older cats in general, but given Sebastian’s size, we knew this was a likely complication as he aged. While he was in no pain, he was losing more and more feeling and then also becoming weaker. Medications helped for a while, but unfortunately, his ability to walk took a drastic turn and we had to make the best decision for him.

I know that Sebastian’s death will hit many of us very hard. Sebastian, Sheba, and Tarzan were the first pride of lions many of us had ever met. They taught me so much about what it means to be a lion. Watching how they interacted with one another was completely different than watching a group of tigers. They had a very clear hierarchy and worked together as a team. One of my favorite memories will always be Sebastian’s quarantine physical. While we had him under anesthesia, both Sheba and Tarzan watched intently from the shift gate. Normally we want animals to be up and moving well before we allow enclosure mates back together, but something about how they were acting made us feel that maybe, just maybe, they needed to go back together. Sure enough. We let Sheba and Tarzan back over and they sniffed Sebastian from head to toe. Then they laid nearly on top of him while he recovered. It was a pride working together like I had never seen before.

Sebastian is the last of his pride and the last animal from our WAO rescue in 2010. I know that it will be difficult to walk past his enclosure and not see a pile of lions sunning themselves on the hill.

We know that loss is to be expected when you work with animals. They don’t live as long as we do and many of them come to us as older animals with health issues, but it doesn’t make the grief any less heartbreaking. But today is a new day and many animals still depend on us to care for them. We regroup, take an extra deep breath, and take extra special care of each other.

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

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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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Porcupine at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Red Wolf at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Keeper Stripes

Get involved at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual Volunteering

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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.