When was the EFRC founded?
The EFRC was founded in 1991 by Joe Taft, who started with only three big cats, on a rural stretch of 15 acres in Center Point, Indiana. In 1996 the EFRC incorporated and was granted 501(c)3 status as a not-for-profit corporation.
How many exotic felines are at the EFRC?
While the exact figure fluctuates from time to time, as of June 2012, the EFRC has 231 exotic cats in its care, representing nine different species.
Who regulates the EFRC?
The EFRC is regulated and annually inspected by the USDA. They are classified as a class-c exhibitor.
From where do the EFRC's exotic cats originate?
The EFRC does not buy or sell exotic felines. Nearly every single cat placed at the EFRC comes from a history of neglect and abuse. The majority of the calls which are fielded originate from either private owners looking to place their exotic cat or from a federal or state agency dealing with a seized exotic cat. The requests to take unwanted cats exceeds the EFRC's ability and resources to accept them by a wide margin.
The root of the problem is directly centered on private owners, who are mostly unqualified to care for exotic felines. The Captive Wildlife Animal Coalition estimates that there are nearly 7,000 tigers living as private pets in the United States. When all species of exotic felines are considered that figure jumps to nearly 20,000.
The Humane Society of the United States qualifies the trade in exotic animals as a $15 billion per year industry, with up a quarter of it being illegal. It is the third largest black market in the U.S. only behind drugs and guns.
Where does the food come from to feed that many exotic cats?
The EFRC has a reciprocally positive relationship with many members of the local farming community. Every week our employees and volunteers travel to destination farms to pickup deceaesd livestock. While the meat is free for our taking, our fuel costs in making this happen are substantial. On an average day, the EFRC will process and distribute 4,000 pounds of meat to its cats.
What is a typical feline habitat like?
In the early years of the EFRC many of the habitats we constructed were smaller than what we are able to build today. Most recently, a three acre habitat was erected to house seven tigers who are all brothers and sisters. All of our cats enjoy a mostly natural environment which includes vegitation, trees, shade and water. The only man-made structures are the wooden climbing towers and water tanks, in case there is not a pond. No concrete is used inside any of our habitats.
When I visit the EFRC how should I dress?
The simple answer is to wear comfortable shoes and clothes that you don't mind getting occassionally dirty. Some of our tigers will spray, so be ready!
Is the EFRC like a zoo?
No. The first thing you will notice upon arriving at the EFRC is that there are no paved walkways, refreshment stands or $1 million plus habitats. It is a rural, fully-functioning rescue center that allocates the vast majority of its resources to providing exotic cats with the best possible life.
Also, the EFRC accepts felines that zoos are typically not interested in receiving due to their own needs and partnership with the Species Survival Program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This program aims to insure the survival of certain species of animals through scientifically controlled, managed breeding programs. While this is a worthwhile and important program, it is fundamentally not in-line with the mission of the EFRC, which focuses on the rescue of exotic felines, regardless of their lineage and the prevention of additional breeding within this population.
How do I schedule a tour?
All you need to do is show up! The EFRC staff will provide tours that take you through the majority of our developed 28 acres of habitats. Tours usually last an hour and you should wear comfortable shoes. You will learn about big cats during your tour as well as hear many individual stories of the cats you see. We ask for $10 per adult and $5 per child under the age of 12. Special rates are available for scouts and church groups.
How many exotic cats are visible on my tour?
On tour you will see 80-90 of our 230+ exotic felines as you walk 20 of our 108 acres. During your hour-long tour you will learn about the 9 species of exotic cats that call the EFRC home. You will learn about the plight of abused or neglected exotic catsand how they came to their new forever home at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.
If you attend a special event or stay the night in our guest house, you will receive an all-access tour of the facility, including some of the cats not seen on the regular tour - but not all of them!