Preserving with DIGNITY
Founded in 2001, EARS is a not-for-profit organization in Citra, Florida that exists specifically to provide excellent living conditions for previously malnourished, abused and even abandoned big cats and other domestic and exotic animals.
What Drives Us
To do our utmost best to give our residents the love, compassion and caring that they deserve while striving to continually expand habitats and enclosures.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the questions aren’t answered below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did you start an exotic wildlife sanctuary?
To give a home to abused, neglected, or abandoned animals who had no where else to go. Many of our animals have been abused, neglected, & abandoned. Some were surrendered by the owners who found owning the animal more expensive than they could afford, or who couldn’t meet the legal requirements for keeping such an animal. Some were discarded when they grew out of the cute baby stage (picture babies) because not as much money could be made from them as adults, plus as they and their appetites grew, they became more expensive to keep. To boil it all down, we love animals and wanted to help try to right the wrongs done to these innocent creatures at the hands of humans by giving them a safe, loving forever home.
In today’s economy, more and more sanctuaries are going under and many of the remaining ones are at capacity. What that means is when no one can make room for or afford to accept another animal, that animal is usually put down.
Why do we have to stay in a group & keep back 4 feet from the animal enclosures when taking our tour?
It’s the law. Florida is a No Contact state with your safety in mind, and the FWC Florida Fish and wildlife requires that ALL guest to our sanctuary stay back and absolutely no touching. We don’t want animals or humans to get hurt. Here’s the deal. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, even to an experienced animal handler. Our first and foremost responsibility is to keep everyone safe. That means if a human doesn’t abide by the safety rules, manages to stick their arm into an enclosure and gets it torn off by a tiger, then, because of their human dumbness, we then have to put that animal down, which is a whitewashed way of saying, execute. That’s according to the law. Then there’s the person left with one less appendage (and that’s getting away lucky) and huge medical costs that EARS simply can’t afford to pay. We struggle just to make ends meet.
While it may seem harsh, we are VERY strict about the four feet rule and will ask visitors to leave the premises if they do not abide by our safety rules. And as cuddly as the animals look, they are still wild animals. They may just be playing and not even mean to hurt you, but with their incredible strength, stealth, speed and size, our puny human flesh & bones don’t stand a chance. Trained EARS Staff & Volunteers are the animals protectors and they take that responsibility seriously. Would you expect any less of them?
Can we take videos & pictures of the animals while on our tour?
We do not allow any photography or video. We have photos available for purchase.
If I just show up at your front gate will you give me a tour?
No. All EARS tours are scheduled in advance. We have many mouths to feed, much work to be done, all with limited human resources. Plus, EARS is not open to the general public. What that means is to get a tour of EARS, you must either purchase a day membership or a private tour. The day membership tours are scheduled in advance by EARS and you must reserve your spot. Day memberships are typically less expensive up front than the private tours, with larger public tour groups, which gives you less one-on-one time with your tour guide and the animals. The private tour cost more upfront, but if you have several members in your family and friends group, are more private than the day membership tours, as you are touring with people you know. You also get more one-on-one time with your tour guide and the animals.
Can I bring my small children with me on my tour?
Believe it or not, some parents don’t “parent” when they bring their small children to the sanctuary. (GASP) Shocking I know and dangerous, too. Like I said, we love kids. So would our animals. They’re called predators for a reason. From a big cat’s point of view, small children either look like playthings or tasty little snacks dashing around. That fact has been lost on a few parents, whom of course, we’ve had to remind that they were not picnicking at the city park. Keep your children by your side at all times and hands held. Do not let them run off by themselves. If a parent cannot control their children while at the sanctuary, we would rather ask them to leave, have the parents mad at us and the child crying, rather than have a tragic accident. Again, I know that probably sounds harsh, however, safety for all creatures at EARS, furred and fleshed, is our top priority.
These animals shouldn't be kept in cages. Why don't you release them back into the wild?
What wild? There’s not much of that left. Would that be in your back yard? Would that be in a foreign country where they will be hunted down and killed for their body parts or die because they do not know how to survive in the “wild” because they have only known captivity all their lives, thanks to humans? As far as “cages” go, we have very large cages that exceed the minimum requirements, however, EARS also has some of the largest turnouts in the state of Florida. They all take turns running and playing and feeling the earth beneath their paws. People always remark at how happy and content our big cats are. We do our best to make them feel comfortable, happy, healthy and content. That goes for all of our animals at EARS. We, too, dearly wish they could all be free instead of (as Gail, EARS Founder says) “being imprisoned for committing no crime whatsoever.” Sadly, It just isn’t realistic.