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“Best day out in Kent....ever!”

The Big Cat Sanctuary
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Smarden
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Big Cat Sanctuary The Big Cat Sanctuary is a conservation charity, home to over 50 big and small cats across 16 different species. We are proud to have the most diverse collection in the UK, from the largest, to the smallest, to the most endangered in the world, hidden away in the Kent countryside. We are a centre of excellence whose primary objective is the breeding of some of the most endangered species on the planet as well as offering sanctuary to retired and homeless cats. The breeding centre is proud to be part of the EEP (European Endangered Species Breeding Programme). This is a body that regulates the captive breeding of endangered cats by making recommendations for breeding to produce a strong, healthy and diverse gene-pool within the captive population to ultimately be reintroduced safely into their natural habitat to mix with their counterparts in the wild. Breeding success so far includes the Amur leopard programme which is the world’s most endangered big cat, estimated between 70-80 remaining in the wild globally, also to the Sumatran tigers, Amur tigers and Pallas cats. Big Cat Sanctuary operates by way of personal big cat experiences including big cat tours, individual and group photography days, overnight big cat safari nights and adoptions. All of which need to be pre-booked in advance of a visit. The centre takes pride in delivering fully immersive, personal and amazing experiences that will leave any big cat lover with memories to treasure forever.
South Godstone
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Best day out in Kent....ever!”
Reviewed 29 November 2013

I have to say up front I'm already a big supporter of the work WHF do and already adopt and have attended previous open days and experiences. However the photographic day is really and truly something else!

I was lucky enough to have an individual experience booked, which meant one-on-one guidance and attention from the very knowledgeable Andy throughout the day which I'll be honest made all the difference in nabbing the one amazing shot. Andy is a top photographer, knows just about everything about the cats and is a genuinely friendly and approachable guy who is happy to work at your pace and ability.

I brought a mid level DSLR and a couple of lenses but frankly the experience would have been just as amazing with a point and shoot so don't feel you need big heavy lumps of glass. Starting up Andy took me through the optimal settings for a dreary November day and although we did refine them as we went along, he was spot on to able to catch the best shots.

So then the cats... Well you'll get a chance to get up close and personal with all of them, which means behind the safety fences and right up against the enclosure bars, meaning best chance of shot. Andy spends a lot of time encouraging the cats into positions for the shot with small tidbits of meat, so they probably enjoy it as much as you do. Occasional you can get a little too close and personal, but the staff and volunteers are totally safety focussed so you're in no real danger.

The one amazing benefit of the individual experience is being able to go inside the enclosures with some of the cats and having a Cheetah 6 inches from the end of your lens, or a fully grown Lynx leaping through the air and landing next to you is something else completely... (the less said about the Rusty Spotted Cat the better - suffice to say its cute but pure evil). This experience in itself is worth the price alone.

I cam away muddy, exhausted with overflowing memory cards but I can't recommend this enough. Cheers Andy and all the guys at WHF for the best day out in Kent ever.

Visited November 2013
2 Thank JamesHBSE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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477 reviews from our community

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English first
Oldham, Lancashire, UK
Level 5 Contributor
64 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 November 2013

I went on the photography day, there were only about 8 of us there and was amazing. The cats are fantastic and all look in great shape. The guy who did the course was excellent, very friendly and approachable and gave as much or little advice as you wanted. And the young man who volunteered and came round with us all day helping out was very knowledgeable and did a great job. I didn't have a big fancy camera so was a bit worried before I went but it was fine and I managed to get some great photos.
The only one thing that was a slight negative is that the enclosures aren't as big as they could be but as I say all of the cats seemed in good condition.
Can't wait to book my next visit!

Visited July 2013
Thank Gemma0622
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Brilliant day!”
Reviewed 26 November 2013

I arrived not really knowing what to expect. Andy greeted me and after a short talk we ventured out to see the cats.
Andy is not only a photographer but he also knows a great deal about the cats and how to get the best pictures, how many zoos can offer that?
Despite the weather doing its worst I had a fantastic day and the pictures are testament to this!
I will definitely be going back next year.
This is a unique opportunity to get up close and take some fantastic pictures.
Big thanks to Andy for making it perfect.

Visited November 2013
Thank sid4u1974
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“WHF - Photography Workshop”
Reviewed 26 November 2013

I have been thinking of going to WHF for nearly year and at last made it on 23rd Nov. It was supposed to be a group workshop but luckily there were only 2 (including myself). Andy explained various camera settings useful for wildlife photography. He also explained about each and every animal.

There was no rush. We were allowed to take picts as long as we want. All the staffs, volunteers who worked there was very helpful and passionate about their work. Andy took time to spend with each of us in turns and make sure we got some nice shots. He knows how the each animal reacts. Thanks a lot Andy. I got few more wildlife shots in my portfolio now.

Visited November 2013
Thank SubiSri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 5 Contributor
82 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Very special place to be”
Reviewed 25 November 2013

The most beautiful creatures reside here in well kept conditions. The staff are some of the most dedicated people we have encountered. Take every opportunity to visit , miss it and you have lost a chance to be enchanted

Visited November 2013
2 Thank DDKCD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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