Living in Cincinnati, we’re fortunate to be so close to one of the best zoos in the country. But if you’re a cat person—more specifically, a big cat person—then a trip to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center (EFRC) in Indiana is right up your alley.
Joe Taft owns and operates the center, which is one of the biggest of its kind to house and care for abused, neglected exotic felines in the country. He opened it in 1991 with two tigers and a leopard to create a place where, as Joe puts it, “big cats could have a permanent home, a quality lifestyle, and good medical care.”
There are around 160 felines at the EFRC today, but they’ve housed up to 240 before. And we’re obviously not talking kittens here.
“We have 11 species now, ranging from Asian leopard cats which are six pounds, up to tigers that are well-over 600,” Joe says. He maintains that there are more tigers in the sanctuary than any other cat breed. They also care for lions, leopards, cougars, and bobcats, too.
Where do the kitties come from?
There’s a reason the word ‘rescue’ is in EFRC's name. “We get a lot of our cats through government agencies—animals that have been confiscated or have been illegally owned,” Joe explains. “There are a lot of legitimate rescues for big cats, but there are a lot of places that say they rescue big cats that aren’t real rescues.”
Luckily for these big cats, the EFRC only employs professional keepers with biology and zoology degrees to provide the best care to their rescued felines. The cats come from all over the United States, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but they also house felines from parts of Europe and Asia, too. No matter where the cat comes from, the EFRC keepers are happy to provide top-rate medical and dental care, large enclosures, and an overall rich environment for the animals to enjoy and thrive.
Sorry, but if you’re trying to live out a Lion King fantasy, it isn’t going to happen here. Guests are only able to interact with the cats visually, but they still get an up close and personal experience standing within inches of them.
“Take all the pictures you want,” Joe offers. He also says that the center hosts field trips for schools, boy and girl scouts, and church groups. There is even guest quarters on the property for overnight stays.
Aside from daily tours, the center is involved in annual charity auctions in January, a 5K run in the Spring, and many summer events. If you can’t wait until then, plan your expedition today to discover why Exotic Feline Rescue Center works toward such a generous claws—I mean, cause.
You can meet some of these incredible cats from the EFRC in the photo gallery above.
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The Exotic Feline Rescue Center is located at 2221 East Ashboro Road, Center Point, IN (47840). It’s open daily from 10 AM-5 PM. Visit their site for more details on the center. And their Instagram shares posts of the cats that the keepers take daily.