Travel, Etc. --> A Visit to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center
A Visit to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center
Another Indiana Road
Linda and I are cat lovers....from our very own "lesser" house feline (who would like to believe he is a "greater" cat), to the great cats of the world. After years of being on our list of "things we must do," we finally made a visit to The Exotic Feline Rescue Center located in rural west central Indiana. When the temperatures finally dropped a little a few weeks ago, we made the trek and it made for a great Indiana road trip.The center (EFRC) is located near Center Point, Indiana, the middle of God's green nowhere. We dropped the top on the convertible and armed with our "don't use major highways" Google map, we made the almost 2 hour rural trek to EFRC (it is quicker on I-70, but not as much fun).
And it really is the middle of nowhere, and it just happens that the middle of nowhere is the right environment for the cats, all 230 of them. Situated on 108 acres, down a heavily wooded gravel road, you would never know it existed but for one small sign at the entry of the road. Don't expect a zoo....there are no paved paths or fancy welcome centers. This is a functioning rescue center that spends the vast majority of its resources on providing the exotic cats with the best possible living environment for the duration of their lives. In other words, the tigers get a 5,000 square foot enclosure and the visitors get a port-a-potty.
But, these cats have suffered abuses and indignities that no animal should have to endure at the hands of unscrupulous humans. Yes, the scene involving Mike Tyson's tiger may have been funny in the movie "The Hangover," but when you think about how many thousands of unqualified people think they can own a 250 pound tiger, it is frightening. And that is where most of EFRC's residents are rescued from...traveling zoos, roadside animal attractions and unqualified owners, who woefully neglect and abuse or even abandon these wonderful and regal cats. Founded in 1991 by Joe Taft, this 501 (c) 3 organization first provides the much needed veterinary or dental care to nurse these creatures back to health, and then provides a caring and safe environment for the rest of their lives.
And learning about the effort and care required to take care of these cats, not to mention the 3,000 pounds of meat needed to feed them each day, it certainly made us willing to provide some financial support. I don’t really see us driving over there to volunteer like our guide, Rosie and her husband (from Indianapolis) do each weekend, but after you visit, it makes you want to empty your wallet for them.
All tours are guided, and not by specific times, but are often individualized when you arrive. We just happened to arrive at the same time as two families with two small children each. Our volunteer guide, Rosie, who also does many other things at the center, lead us on an engaging and informative one hour plus tour of the facility. While impressed with her passion for each of these animals, her ability to also sooth the fears of a very frightened five year old on our tour impressed us.
Every cat had a story, and a name. We met King, the rescued male lion who they didn't think was old enough to breed, but when they paired him with Jasmine the lioness, the result was Lauren. And now all three have been able to live a good life together in a large enclosure. Then, we saw the unique relationship between Max the Tiger and Kisa the lioness, whose neurological issues have left her with difficulty walking, Max and Kisa live together and he is very protective of her. And fortunately, Raja, a very large tiger, was not in the mood to "spray" when we walked by...we were warned about his tendency to do that! And this just scratches the surface of the many felines we met that day.
It is quite a tour. Lions and tigers and servals and pumas and bobcats and leopards "oh my"....they were all there. It was still a warm day and there is nothing like seeing a 250 pound tiger taking a dip in his water tank to cool off, and then shaking like a dog (or a cat). And it is amazing how similar the behaviors of great cats are to lesser cats, like our cat, Thunder. We listened to a puma purr, and watched a cross eyed white tiger bound across her enclosure upon being called, and rub her head against the fence near Rosie's outstretched hand like a kitten. But these are still dangerous, exotic animals, and the staff is very appropriate and respectful of that fact in their relationships and interactions with them.
This is a unique experience, and a very interesting road trip, especially if you include a lunch stop in Danville.
Exotic Feline Rescue Center
2221 E. Ashboro Road
Centerpoint, IN 47840
Our meandering route took us through downtown Danville on our way to ERFC....where we saw Andy's police car parked on the square in front of the Mayberry Cafe, a Danville landmark, that we've read about for years and never visited. So on the return trip, we had a late lunch with Andy, Barney, Opie and Aunt Bee. They have been there almost 20 years, celebrating the simple, but entertaining life in Mayberry, USA. No wine or beer here, and beware of the sticky sweet raspberry iced tea. But, you may have as much trouble deciding on your comfort food as Linda did. Her rural roots surfaced when she had to choose between fried blue gill, a roast beef manhattan or Aunt Bee's fried chicken. We finally both chose the crispy, three piece fried chicken special, accompanied by mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans that would do my Aunt Betty proud. The meatloaf and catfish sandwiches served around us also looked mighty good. Our uniformed, perky teen-aged server, and the multiple TVs showing old episodes of the Andy Griffith show, just added to the quaint environment. We live in Indiana, folks...embrace it.
78 West Main Street Danville, IN 46122
August 8, 2012