If you’re nearby Orlando and looking for something animal-related to do-skip the zoo and consider visiting the Central Florida Animal Reserve instead. It’s located about 30 minutes away, in a place called St. Cloud. 

What’s the difference?

Are you wondering what the difference between a zoo and a reserve is?

Typically, a zoo buys, sells or trades their animals, while a reserve does not. A reserve rescues animals and brings them to a place of sanctuary where they can tend to them lovingly until their natural death. Sounds pretty wonderful, right?

It is. And you can experience it for yourself.  

Central Florida Animal Reserve

At the CFAR, their motto is Compassion, Conservation, and Commitment. They are a non-profit facility run entirely off community donations and volunteer love. They are specifically a sanctuary for big cats. So, if you’d love to get up close and personal with lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, and more, this is where you want to be.  Visitors are always impressed at how clean and spacious it is inside. And how much everyone truly cares about the animals. 


The best way to see the facility is on a guided tour. Learn about the history of the facility, the names and ages of each of the cats, and how they came to call CFAR their home. Tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays and are an hour long each. Choose from The Guided Walking Tour, Family Tour, Private Tour, or a Behind-The-Scenes tour. 

You must schedule in advance, they do not accept walk-ins. You can view the schedule here

Plan Ahead 

This stop might not be suitable for families with smaller children. Because there are no real restrooms on grounds (just portalets), strollers aren’t permitted, and the tour guides take their time explaining each stop, and little ones might get antsy. 

BUT, don’t let this completely put you off. For adults and kids 10 years and older, it is a fun and educational way to spend several hours. And who doesn’t love big cats? 

Have fun

If you’re from out of town and need a place to stay during your visit, check out our sister site, HotelCoupons.com for affordable hotels in the area.