Meet the Cats at Branson’s National Tiger Sanctuary

A tiger’s body temperature is 102 degrees so it’s safe to say that a tiger stays a lot warmer in the winter than we do! And with lots of shelter and comfortable habitats, the large cats that call the National Tiger Sanctuary home are up and at ’em and waiting to interact with the groups of visitors that stop by.

Most people spend an hour to two hours at the sanctuary so on a warmer winter day, it’s the perfect way to spend some family time. The sanctuary offers several different guided tours that allow visitors the once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet more than a dozen large, wild cats, learn about their habitats, eating habits, personalities and even watch them crunch through bones while they enjoy lunch!

Your knowledgeable guide will lead you through the sanctuary after you watch a brief, informative video at the visitor center near the front entrance. As you travel from habitat to habitat, you’ll be amazed at how intricate this animal species is and how important it is for us to take care of them.

A trip to the National Tiger Sanctuary is truly an eye-opening experience that you and the whole family will talk about for years to come.

The sanctuary is open Wednesday-Sunday with tours at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and is located just 10 minutes north of Branson and 20 minutes south of Springfield.

For tickets or more information, please visit

Have the Experience of a Lifetime at the National Tiger Sanctuary

National tigerJust north of Branson off Highway 65 lies one of the most interesting live animal attractions in the Branson area — The National Tiger Sanctuary. I went to the there just a few months ago and I still find myself wanting to go back for another visit.

Unlike a regular zoo visit where you visit each animal’s habitat on your own, the knowledgeable staff at the Tiger Sanctuary will take you on a guided tour through the property.

This means that in addition to seeing the animals up close, but you also pick up a wealth of information along the way.

My guide took her time leading us from habitat to habitat, telling us about the history of each large cat; where it came from, its personality traits and quirks and facts about each wild species of cat.

Most zoos just give you general information about the type of animal you’re viewing but I loved how the sanctuary staff made the effort to introduce each and every cat to you in a more personal way.

The sanctuary focuses on tigers because staff say they make great ambassadors for environmental awareness.

National tigerAccording to the organization, “Tigers are the most idolized, but exploited, animal on the planet. However, despite having no natural predators, tigers are facing extinction, with less than 2,000-3,000 left in the wild.”

This sanctuary is not only an enjoyable attraction for visitors, but it’s also a great way to spread awareness and educate the public about the dangers that tigers face in the wild.

Some of the tigers that call the National Tiger Sanctuary home were confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from people who were trying to sell them into the black market. Others come from their previous homes at zoos across the countries and you’ll even find Merlin, from the Kirby VanBurch Magic Show, living life happily in the grand outdoors.

Visiting the National Tiger Sanctuary is a great experience and would make for a fantastic family day trip. The staff offers a variety of different tour options, depending on how comfortable you feel with getting close to the large cats and how in depth you’d like to go. Choose from:

  • National Tiger Sanctuary Awareness Tour: Visit the cats as staff tell you interesting facts about each one.
  • National Tiger Sanctuary Feeding Tour: Tour the sanctuary, learn interesting facts and watch the big cats crunch through bones while they eat.
  • National Tiger Sanctuary Behind-the-Scenes Tour: Experience firsthand the care taking of each cat. See how their food is prepared, help feed them and watch as they eat dinner.
  • National Tiger Sanctuary You Feed Tour: Feed the cats yourself.

No matter how in depth you choose to go at The Tiger Sanctuary, you’re bound to have a blast and I’m sure you’ll be like, wanting to go back again and again!

The National Tiger Sanctuary is at 518 State Hwy. BB, Chestnutridge/Saddlebrooke, just off of Highway 65 between Branson and Springfield.

For tickets or more information, visit

Get Up Close and Personal With the Wild Cats of the National Tiger Sanctuary

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Planning a vacation to Branson this summer? If you’re hoping to plan a wide variety of activities for your family, why not make a visit to the National Tiger Sanctuary? Just a 10 minute drive north of Branson, the National Tiger Sanctuary is a nonprofit environmental, educational center open to the public and serves as a safe, stress-free environment and forever home for all the animals that live there.

When I visited the sanctuary, I was surprised by the size of it. All of my previous experiences with tigers took place in huge city zoos but this place was different. Neatly nestled in the calm Ozark hills, this was smaller, more homey and less congested with visitors.

The sanctuary provided several different tours: an awareness tour, a feeding tour, a behind the scenes tour and a you feed tour where you can actually help feed the tigers.

Before leaving the main building where I got my ticket, the tour guide sat everyone down to first explain what we could expect from our experience there. Without further delay, she led us outside behind the building where the animals’ habitats were set up. The first cat I came into contact with was an adorable and friendly striped housecat taking a nap on a nearby bench. She looked very content in her home, surrounded by other cats five times her size and provided me with a nice welcome to the sanctuary. Although cute, that little housecat still couldn’t prepare me for the wild cats I was about to encounter next.

Our tour guide led us through the sanctuary gate and stopped at the first habitat on the right where a very large, black tiger stood up and stared curiously right at our group. She began telling us about Midnight, the melanistic tiger whose unique black coat was lacking the traditional tiger stripes due to inbreeding. As the guide continued to talk about more of Midnight’s history and coloration, I very quickly realized that this would not be like any other trip I’d taken to the zoo.

A trip to the National Tiger Sanctuary is much more about being introduced to several very special cats, each of which have an individual life story and a distinctive personality. Because of the small number of tigers that live there, staff members are able to spend more time with each animal, allowing for a consistent relationship to form as well as a deeper understanding of each individual cat and its quirks.

It’s clear that the animals here are very happy and it makes animal lovers like myself glad to know that while many tigers in the wild face extinction, these tigers have a permanent, life home that is safe, healthy and happy.

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and the staff allowed us to take as many pictures as we wanted, which was fantastic because these tigers like to have their photos taken. Just about every one came to the front of the habitat to get its photo taken and interact with the crowd. And let me tell you, it’s one thing to see a picture of a tiger but an entirely different thing to encounter one in real life.

I have no doubt that Branson visitors of all ages will love vising the National Tiger Sanctuary and are guaranteed to leave with both a newfound knowledge and environmental awareness of the lives of tigers.

In addition to being a home for tigers, you’ll also get to meet a variety of domestic cats and dogs that have been rescued and adopted by the sanctuary!

So if you’re in Branson this summer, you and your family might just consider stopping by. You won’t regret it!

The National Tiger Sanctuary is located at 518 State Hwy. BB in Chestnutridge/Saddlebrooke, MO, just 10 minutes north of Branson and 20 minutes south of Springfield.

Hours are Wednesday-Saturday with tours at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

For tickets or more information, visit