Exotic Feline Rescue Center

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Exotic Feline Rescue Center is an exotic feline preserve established in 1991 and located in Center Point, Indiana.


The EFRC was founded in 1991 by Joe Taft. It is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization. The EFRC cares for nine exotic feline species, including lions, tigers, leopards, servals, pumas, bobcats, lynx, ocelots, and an asian leopard cat. The EFRC is the second-largest[1] big cat rescue center in the United States, providing a permanent home for non-domestic cats that have been abused, abandoned, or for some reason have nowhere to live out their lives. The EFRC does not buy, sell, or breed animals, provides expert veterinary care with an onsite clinic, and educates the public about these animals. Over 230 big cats are housed on 108 acres (0.44 km2).

The EFRC is the focus of the book Saving the Big Cats (2006) published by Indiana University Press.[2]

The EFRC was prominently featured in the 2009 movie The Tiger Next Door.[3] and was also the subject of a WILL TV documentary in 2009.[4]


Over a two year period (2008-2009), Dr. Susan Linville at the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB) [5] and Dr. Helena Sioni at the Institute for Pheromone Research, both located at Indiana University[6] conducted a research project with lions, tigers, cougars and leopards at the EFRC to study rubbing behavior and determine if a pheromone is being deposited during rubbing.[7]

In 2009, a multifaceted research project was conducted by several veterinarians from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine.[8] Under the direction of Dr. Stuart Clark-Price, immobilization and anesthesia methods for tigers were assessed in order to optimize current protocols and maximize animal safety under anesthesia. During these procedures, veterinary ophthalmologists gathered routine measurements on the tigers' eyes to determine what is normal in this species and establish a basis for treatment on tigers with eye diseases or to improve current therapies. Dental examinations were also performed by The Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation[9] to determine the current condition of each tiger’s teeth and the potential need for future dental care. Any needed dental treatments were performed by board-certified veterinary dentists pro bono. Other information including normal blood value and anti-body levels of different diseases was evaluated to improve care of these tigers as well as global care for this species.


The EFRC offers internships for college students and credit is offered for students at Indiana University through the Center for Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.[10]


  • Director: Joe Taft
  • Assistant Director: Jean Herrberg
  • Head Keeper: Rebecca Rizzo


On June 21, 2013, a tiger mauled a caretaker who was cleaning its cage (when the Keeper mistakenly left the connecting gate open), clamping the woman's head in its mouth during the attack. This was a sure case of Human Error. The unidentified 21-year-old woman was airlifted to Wishard Memorial Hospital and was in critical, but non-life threatening condition.[11] As a result of the incident caused by Human Error, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an inspection and in November 2013 fined the center $56,000 for “knowing” violations and $13,000 for “serious” violations, including dangerous conditions likely to cause death or physical harm to employees.[12]


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