The big cat population at the Central Florida Animal Reserve is growing for the first time in a decade.

  • Large animal rescue in St. Cloud takes in 4 big cats
  • Central Florida Animal Reserve is nonprofit, relies on volunteers
  • Reserve gives educational tours on weekends

The St. Cloud nonprofit provides a home to animals that otherwise wouldn't have one.

It recently got four additional residents, meaning CFAR is now housing 26 big cats. The new felines came from a facility in northern Brevard County, where they could no longer be kept. The caretakers there had their own personal health condition issues that prevented them from continuing to care for the three tigers and one lion.

On Sunday afternoon, the Animal Reserve was filled with people getting to know more about lions, cougars, tigers and leopards. Even little ones enjoyed learning about these four-legged creatures.

“I liked some of the cats. I liked Quincy and Wyn,” said 8-year-old Elainna Soto.

Educational tours usually happen on weekends, when volunteers teach residents about the nonprofit’s mission to preserve the big cats.

“We have adapted a little bit. It does take us a little longer in our day to get our feed done. But we are really looking at what is best for them. Right now, (we have) small, small teams so we will split off,” said Kelley Mulvihill, the reserve's education director. “And people will keep going with what they’re doing, and we will take a small team out there and work with just them. We’re trying to get them more comfortable. ... So little bits every day.”

Taking in the new residents is a challenge that CFAR's volunteers say they’re ready to take on.

“I want to make sure that this relationship we’re starting here can last for the duration of their lives,” said Dr. K. Simba Wiltz, the CEO of the nonprofit. “And with cats this young, we’re going to have them for another 15 years, possibly another 20 years, and so it's my job and the job of all the people who work around this organization to make that happen.”

For more information on how you can help CFAR with its mission or to donate, go to its website.