Close this search box.
Close this search box.

World’s First Augmented Reality Zoo opens in Tampa

A look at Tampa's incredible AR Zoo.

Do you love lions, tigers, and jaguars, but feel weird about seeing them locked away in a zoo? Have we got a show for you!

Big Cat Rescue, one of the world’s largest sanctuaries for exotic cats, is right here in the Citrus Park area of North Tampa.


Big Cat Rescue has recently opened an AR Zoo, so that you can experience the big cats without having to have them locked up in artificial environments.

It’s the first AR Zoo in the entire world and it opened right here in Tampa in March.

Photo courtesy of Big Cat Rescue

What is AR?

Good question. So, AR means augmented reality. This means the viewer uses an app on their phone to scan a photo or poster or image and a then the cats come to life right in front of their eyes.


In addition to wild cats leaping off the walls in the AR and VR zoo, you may find 360 videos on display, on the weekends. Just put on one of the Oculus Go headsets and choose from dozens of videos of the 50+ exotic cats who have been saved from fur farms, circus acts, roadside zoos, and private owners.

You’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of the action. In some videos, you’re the keeper, handing out treats to some very happy lions, tigers, and other wild cats. In others, you’re the vet who is performing life-saving techniques to give these cats a better quality of life.

Big Cat Rescue has a page on their website that allows you to try it at home! Click here to see for yourself.

Photo Courtesy of Big Cat Rescue

But why not just go to a zoo?

According to Big Cat Rescue, zoos as we know them have been offering people an up close look at big cats. Unfortunately, in the 200 years that zoos have been doing this, big cats have only been forced to the edge of extinction. So, we have to embrace a new way of thinking and better ways to engage people with their natural world. This is where Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality experiences come in, allowing people to be immersed in an educational and fun environment.

This AR Zoo is free and open to all ages and accessibility levels. Just bring your phone and be ready to experience big cats in a way you’ve surely never experienced them.


Don't miss a story 👉

Get all the best local content delivered to your inbox