Big cats

Housing for big cats

AAP has been rescuing big cats in Spain since 2016. At our rescue centre for big cats in Spain, which measures close to 6.5 hectares, animals such as lions, tigers and leopards are taken care of. There is room for more than 40 animals. The animals are taken in from all over Europe and have various backgrounds. For example, we have rescued lions that were kept as pets, and tigers that were exploited by the entertainment industry and ended up as circus animals.

The big cat rescue centre in Spain was built with the help of the Nationale Postcode Loterij (Dutch national lottery). Thanks to this charity donating a large contribution, AAP can take care of these animals in Spain. We are forever grateful for this!


The area consists of three parts: Module E, Module F and Module G. The modules are circular buildings and each building has its own courtyard surrounded by eight enclosures. Each enclosure consists of an indoor and an outdoor area, and most also have an area where the animals can be temporarily separated.

For each species, we have an outdoor enclosure that fits the needs of the animal. We have enclosures for lions and tigers, but also for climbing cats. In the outdoor area, the animals can cool down in a swimming pool or find shade under a tree. In winter, they can find shelter from the strong winds in the small houses that are included in each enclosure.

Tiger Suzu in the pool of his enclosure.


Upon arrival, all animals are quarantined for a minimum of four weeks. Each module has a section where the animals can be separated from each other. Whilst in quarantine, the animals undergo an extensive medical examination during which their blood and faeces are checked.

We look for disease-causing viruses, bacteria and parasites. For each animal, we draw up an individual treatment plan that includes nutrition, medication and (problematic) behaviour.

AAP's vet Hector checks on a tiger.


Because most animals that arrive at AAP have had a difficult past, they often do not know how to get along with their peers. Many of the animals, such as lions, are social animals and are therefore housed together with a peer. The process of housing animals together is called resocialisation.

Tigers are (semi-)solitary animals and generally live alone. In the wild, they occasionally live together if there is enough food or during mating season. Tigers can show extensive social behaviour towards each other. That is why tigers sometimes live alone at AAP, and sometimes together. We choose to do this because it is how the animals – at times – would live in the wild, but mainly because we find that it is better for their welfare.

Tigers Diva and Patou at AAP.
Enrichment for big cats
We regularly surprise our big cats with a form of enrichment, allowing them to look for something tasty on their own and stimulate their natural behaviour. We use a variety of enrichments such as foods, smells and moveable objects such as balls and big ice cubes in summer.

In this video you can see tiger Sanson playing with his favorite toy: a purple ball!

Guided tour AAP Spain

Did you know that it is also possible to sign up for a guided tour
in our rescue centre in Spain (Alicante region)?

Pictures big cat rescue centre