Zari Caracal


April 29, 2008

October 4, 2016

Passed away
September 21, 2022

Zari’s Story

Zari came to Carolina Tiger Rescue with her enclosure-mate, Kitwana, and fourteen other animals from a facility in Colorado. The owner decided to sell his land and donate his animals when he became ill. Carolina Tiger Rescue worked with several other sanctuaries around the country to find homes for over 100 animals. This is the largest rescue to date in Carolina Tiger Rescue’s history and the largest rescue of big cats in the United States. Zari was a feisty caracal who enjoyed bossing Kitwana around. She was easily recognized by her tufted ears, one of which always fell over, and her sassy attitude.  

Zari’s Passing

September 23, 2022

For quite some time we have been monitoring Zari Caracal for seizure activity. Sadly, there is rarely a fixable reason for an adult animal to develop seizures. We have had her on seizure medication for some time now, but when she began having breakthrough seizures we knew that our time with her was coming to an end. This week her condition deteriorated and we felt the kindest action was to let her go.

Zari and her enclosure-mate, Kitwana, were part of the Colorado rescue in 2016. Since their arrival at Carolina Tiger Rescue, the two of them have been the quintessential caracals. There was always a mix of sharing a cool space and then hissing at each other when waiting for food. I have to admit that caracals are one of my favorite cats. I greatly enjoy their confidence and sass, and that description fit Zari to a tee! While she was a tiny caracal, she was never short on personality. Though I must admit, it was sometimes hard to take her too seriously with her “broken party hat” tassels on one ear (one ear tassel often stayed straight up while the other flopped over).

While I know that not everyone knows the small cats as well as they know the big guys, their impact on our lives can be just as big. We spend so much time with them, particularly when their health begins to fail. I know that I will miss seeing Zari rubbing along the fence or even just relaxing on her tallest platform. I’m thankful that she got to spend the last years of her life at ease. I am incredibly proud of my staff who cared for her right until the end and who will continue to watch over all of the animals in the sanctuary.

I know that it’s hard to get sad news about the animals. However, I’m comforted knowing that their stories will continue to be told and that their memory will live on in the work that we do every day. Thank you for helping to share their stories.

Kathryn Bertok

Assistant Director

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.

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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.