Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Responds to “Tiger King” Docuseries

In the United States, there are thousands of entities that describe themselves as a “sanctuary” or “rescue” for displaced, wild and exotic animals. However, the quality of animal care can vary widely among them. It is a poorly regulated industry, in which facilities that keep animals in deplorable conditions can identify themselves as Sanctuaries.


To be eligible for GFAS Accreditation, true animal sanctuaries abide by the following policies:

  • Maintain Non-Profit/Non-Commercial status
  • No captive breeding
  • No commercial trade in animals or animal parts
  • No unescorted public visitation or contact with wild animals
  • No removal of wild animals for exhibition, education or research
  • No invasive or intrusive research

The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries was founded to fulfill a need to identify legitimate sanctuary organizations.  The primary mission of GFAS is to promote excellence through an internationally recognized accreditation program.  As such, GFAS has developed eligibility criteria and maintained a set of 24 animal-specific standards that we use to promote excellence in captive animal care. These standards include information for the proper enclosure, diet and social needs of each animal group as well as information for safety training and protocols; financial practices; and education and outreach.

GFAS is proud of its Accredited and Verified member organizations, which include sanctuaries providing lifetime care for big cats that have been abused, injured, abandoned, or are otherwise in need.  Big Cat Rescue, Florida, has held GFAS Accredited status since 2009, and serves as an exemplary model of a sanctuary that provides excellent humane and responsible care to its animal residents.

Download statement here.