Celebrating Three Decades of Big Cat Care at Indiana Rescue Center
Indiana is not exactly known for unique or exotic wildlife – most of our animals are also common in other states, and our rarest “Bird” is Larry Bird.
People are often surprised to learn that, in addition to bobcats, badgers and other relatively common animals, Indiana is also home to roughly 200 lions, tigers, pumas, and cheetahs, most of whom reside in the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.
Sitting on over a hundred of acres inCenter Point, Indiana, the EFRC was founded by Joe Taft in 1991 and is now the leading rescue and care facility for exotic cats in the nation. The center is a USDA licensed and inspected 501(c)(3) organization with two simple missions – they provide permanent homes for exotic felines that have been mistreated while also educating the public about the various species of cats under their care.
The center began on 15 acres, expanded to 26 acres in 1998 and now boasts over 100 acres of land. At any given time, the EFRC is home to roughly 200 big cats from 24 different states. This gives a good indication of the scope and national scale of their rescue efforts but also paints a chilling picture of the amount of exotic wildlife neglected in the United States.
The EFRC is staffed by 6 professionals trained in exotic feline care, four support staff and a number of volunteers. The center is run as a non-profit, but there are considerable costs associated with running a big cat rescue center. The resident cats eat 3000 – 4000 pounds of meat in a typical day.
On top of that, many of the cats require costly medical attention. Working closely with the USDA, the U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service and the Department of Natural Resources within numerous states, the EFRC continuously receives calls about neglected felines – the problem is so common that the center cannot even accept all requests.
Luckily, for every owner that neglects to care for his or her illegally-imported exotic pet, there are numerous Americans willing to help with the rescue efforts. The center relies on donations and volunteers. Back in 2002, the center expanded by 82 acres free of charge thanks to a grant from the Clark Charitable Trust of Lincoln, Massachusetts and a gift from a private donor.
The amount of neglected exotic animals in the country is certainly troubling, but the efforts of the EFRC team to improve exotic cat lives over the past quarter-century provides hope for the future.