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|Date opened||May 2005|
|Location||Cave Junction, Oregon, United States|
Great Cats World Park is a big cat zoo. It is located a few miles south of Cave Junction, Oregon, United States. It is owned and managed by Craig Wagner. He and a select few staff members involve themselves personally in the raising of the cats: feeding them, training them and sometimes sleeping with them as babies. Its mission is to educate the public about all types of wild cat species to increase conservation and awareness. The park's breeding projects involve the Amur leopard, a highly endangered cat that will most likely be extinct from the wild in the near future, and the white tiger, a cat whose genetic diversity is highly threatened by only a captive gene pool.
Great Cats World Park was built from the ground up on a 10-acre lot bordering the historic Redwood Highway. The land was purchased in 2003, and the facility opened to the public in 2005. The site was chosen based on the relatively mild climate, natural surroundings and available tourist traffic. Though long-time veterans of public exhibition, before this the cats home base was never open to the public. Craig Wagner first began raising big cats at the age of 23 in Minnesota after he accidentally met a cougar cub while returning home from a fishing trip. After a bit of soul searching and a lot of research, he realized he had found his passion. For more than 30 years, Wagner has been working with rare and exotic cats and promoting them via film, photography and live shows, and he is federally licensed to own and show big cats.
In September 2007, Great Cats World Park was sentenced by a federal court to one month probation for violation of the Endangered Species Act and fined $10,000. Owner Craig Wagner pleaded guilty in June 2007 to purchasing the park's ocelot for $3,000. There is a near-total ban on ocelot sales in order to discourage the commercialization of the rare animals. The ocelot was purchased from the Isis Society for Inspirational Studies, who were given two years probation and fined $60,000. The ocelot will continue to live at Great Parks World Park. According to Phil Land, the resident U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent in charge, "Sometimes it's actually better to leave them with the people that care for them. Then we don't have to try to find a place for them."