Skip to main content

BrewView MO!

Get The Latest Stories, Events, and More Right In Your Inbox


Oct 21, 2022 04:47PM ● By MERYL SIEGMAN
Ste. Genevieve, MO is the oldest permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi River. It is located between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau and is a land of hay fields and cow pastures. It is also a top destination for wine lovers and beer aficionados. It has its own “Route du Vin” that stretches from Ste. Genevieve west to Farmington, and thanks to its proximity to St. Louis, home of Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser, it's where you can find some of the country’s best craft breweries.


Who would expect to find a streak of tigers inhabiting this gastronomic heaven? That’s what we asked John Madigan, the operations manager at Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary. “This location wasn’t chosen for big cats,” he explained, “it just happened that way.”

Joe Scott Sr., Crown Ridge’s founder, purchased the 56-acre property, leased some of it to a different big cat sanctuary, and built enclosures and housing for the animals. After that sanctuary vacated the property, The Scott Foundation decided to turn it into an animal sanctuary of its own.


The result was the Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, a Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) verified 501(c)3 non-profit big cat rescue and educational facility that provides permanent lifelong care for abused, neglected, or unwanted big cats. Its mission is to give sanctuary to animals and inspire change to end the captive wildlife crisis. It envisions a world where wild cats can thrive in their natural environments, and the need for sanctuaries does not exist. The refuge offers on and off-site presentations, tours, and education groups to increase public awareness and inspire a change in the world’s big cat crisis.


Crown Ridge started out with five big cats, including a pair of sister tigers, Gracie and Thor, who continue to live there today. Two big male tigers, Izzy and Sebastian, joined them more recently. John, a trained mechanical engineer, started out as a volunteer, eventually moving up the ranks to become the organization’s operations manager. 



The Crown Ridge Sanctuary is the perfect side trip for folks coming to the area to visit the wineries and breweries. Open year-round, Crown Ridge is home to special events and offers three tour levels. First, there is a 45-minute guided walking tour that includes learning about each individual tiger and a visit to the Education Center. The Early Bird Tour lets visitors watch the big cats at their most active point of the day — first thing in the morning. Visiting the observation deck is great for snapping photos and getting a bird’s eye view of the sanctuary. Finally, the VIP Tour is a 90-minute experience that pulls together all the best the sanctuary offers, including a video and guided tour, plus sharing an enrichment item with a tiger from the observation deck.

The sanctuary also offers overnight lodging for anyone visiting the area, whether to see the tigers, explore the wineries and breweries, or attend a friend’s wedding.



“What sets us apart from other big cat facilities that some visitors may be familiar with is that we rescue animals from the types of places they may have visited,” John explains. “We follow the guidelines of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and adhere strictly to the federal definition of a wildlife sanctuary.” He says, “We do not buy, sell, breed or trade any of our animals. We are opposed to private ownership of wild cats as pets, as well as using them as entertainment.”


On your next visit to Ste. to experience its wines or beers or attend a destination wedding in Genevieve County, don’t forget to put Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary on your itinerary. You’ll be glad you did! 

Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary
19620 Crown Ridge Road 

Ste. Genevieve, MO

(573) 883-9909