This year is Indiana’s Bicentennial so I’ve made it a summer goal to check out a few unique and semi-local places. My first stop: the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana. I first learned about the rescue a few years ago when planning for a library program and it’s been on my “to visit” list ever since. I was scheduled to work the weekend, so I had Friday off and decided to take a short drive to check out the big cats!
Founded in 1991, the Exotic Feline Rescue Center houses over 200 big cats. Most came from abusive or neglectful situations. A few are former circus cats but many were just owned by regular people who had no idea how to properly care for an animal that should have remained in the wild.
Our tour lasted about an hour and I was surprised at how friendly the tigers were. They came right up to the edge of the cage and rubbed their heads on the fence as we approached. Several of them just loved our tour guide and would chuff at her when she talked to them. She told us that one of her favorites gets so playful when he sees her that if she turns her back on the cage, he will jump in his water trough, splash her with water and make happy sounds when she laughs at him.
The lions on the other hand preferred to sleep 🙂
It was a really fun afternoon and if you have time, you can even stay all night at the rescue and get a second tour of an area where they keep some of the cats that aren’t in the main area that most people see. I wouldn’t recommend that small children go – the cats do come right up to the edge of the cage and kids seem like they’d want to stick their hands in there at them which would probably be a bad experience for everyone.
There’s also a literary connection to EFRC that’s worth mentioning – New York Times bestselling Indiana author and Bloomington resident Michael Koryta wrote a supernatural thriller loosely based on the rescue. Koryta is a huge supporter of the rescue and when purchased on site, 100% of the proceeds from sales of The Ridge go directly to EFRC.
The cost to visit is $10/per person. You are not allowed to touch or interact with the cats – just enjoy from the other side of the fence. There are lots of other fun activities going on at the rescue, so take a look at their web site for more info on upcoming events.
P.S. I sneaked across the state line to snap a photo with the Welcome to Illinois sign. I’m trying to get all 50 states and have 38 more to go. I should have started this a long time ago since I’ve been to all of the lower 48…