Indiana Vacation spot: Heart Factors Unique Cat Rescue Heart

CENTER POINT, Ind. (WTWO / WAWV) – Tourists from around the world travel to a deeply forested area in the Wabash Valley where the Exotic Feline Rescue Center is located. During a visit with 150 rescued big cats, people will find fascinating sights, sounds and experiences there.

The cats are exotic, dangerous and as close as possible to their natural habitat. The cats were all rescued or given up from various circumstances in which many people kept them as pets.

Exotic Feline Rescue Center owner Joe Taft talks about tigers at the facility, some from “Joe Exotic” and some from the Netflix series “Tiger’King”.

“We are committed to giving them a home for the rest of their lives,” said Joe Taft, founder and owner of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.

Taft founded the Clay County Center in 1991, when he only had two tigers and one leopard.

Taft talks about getting started at the Extoci Feline Rescue Center

“I went to a real estate agent in Terre Haute and said, ‘I’m looking for an apartment with no neighbors.’ We looked for a long time and finally chose a place here in Center Point. “

Starting with just 15 acres of land, 30 years later, the center is now on 250 acres and has gained quite a following of fans.

“Most people fall fantastically in love.”

Joe Taft

Only one meter away from 10 different exotic cat species, it is an experience that is second to none.

“It gives you a better sense of their power and strength when you are this close to them.” Headkeeper Rebecca Stevenson said. “It’s more like the zoo comes to the cats. They like to look at everyone who comes out, just as you like to look at every cat when you come out. ”

The Exotic Feline Rescue Center, like many other , was closed at the beginning of the pandemic. Stevenson said it affected the cats.

EFRC staff talk about the impact of the pandemic on their budget and reopening plans

“You can tell that they (visitors) are missing,” she said. “They are fed up with seeing the same faces every day. We’re sitting here planning as many virtual fundraisers as possible, but we’re busy out here taking care of it too, so it was pretty tough. “

Another part of Stevenson’s role is to give guided tours. It informs people of the reality of life for tigers in captivity. That it’s often not a pretty story, like paying a fee to pet a tiger cub.

“It’s a terrible situation for her. They are only used for a short time and from then on who knows what will happen to them. Sometimes they’re put to sleep, sometimes they’re put in horrible homes, in all kinds of different situations, ”said Stevenson.

Destination : Visiting Parke County

Taft said they rescued cats from anywhere, up to 15 cats at a time. He said the number of shots usually doesn’t affect the facility’s capacity. At one time, 260 cats were housed here.

A popular Netflix series helped shed light on the reality of captive tigers. In fact, several tigers from the “Tiger King” show now live on the Center Point facility.

Many people choose to keep large cats as pets, but Stevenson said she uses her role to warn people.

“The difference with these guys and a pet is that you don’t go in and try to read their personality because they can change and they can change very quickly,” she said. “So if you go in there it could be your last day. So we have a relationship with them through the fence and keep them as happy as possible, and we go from there. “

When asked what she loved about her job, she said that she liked everything.

“Everything about my job,” she said. “These cats are amazing. I have a relationship with every cat here, good or bad, it’s still a relationship and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. “

Due to the pandemic, guided tours of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center are only possible with prior reservation. You can make a reservation on the website by clicking on this link.

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