When Joe Taft founded the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana, in 1991, he had 15 acres and three cats. Over the past 26 years, the center has grown to 108 acres and over 200 cats, rescued from 24 states.
The nonprofit rescue center’s tenants include lions, tigers, leopards, servals, pumas, bobcats, Canada lynxes, ocelots, Geoffroy’s cats, and Asian leopard cats. Reasons for their rescue range from being abused at circuses or roadside zoos to being owned illegally.
Many of the big cats found their way to the center when someone called the USDA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Department of Natural Resources about a cat in need, though the center has had to turn down more animals than it has been able to take in.
A mix of employees, volunteers, and interns take care of the cats. Between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds of meat are fed to the cats every day, and their habitats, which can be as large as an acre and include towers and toys so the cats can play, are regularly cleaned. There is an on-site veterinary clinic for check-ups and medical procedures.
Nearby universities have used the exotic feline population for research, and part of the mission of the center is to educate the public about big cats, emphasizing how dangerous they are and that, despite the temptation, they do not make good pets.
Know Before You Go
The EFRC has daily tours which provide an up-close view of these beautiful animals. Parking is along a small country road or in a gravel lot about 200 yards from the EFRC entrance.