I can’t quite remember where I learned about the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, but I know it’s been a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while. However, having heard about the set up, I knew I had to wait till my kids were old enough to follow instructions and be safe around the animals. The EFRC isn’t like visiting the zoo where the animals are in multi-million dollar enclosures separated from the public by a moat and thick glass windows. They are often just a few feet away, behind a chain-link fence.
What They Are All About
Located about 90 minutes west of Indy, this non-profit rescue organization is home to more than 200 exotic cats. According to their mission statement, they “provide permanent homes for exotic felines that have been abused, abandoned or for some reason have nowhere to live out their lives, while educating the public about these beautiful cats.” EFRC is a working rescue for big cats. They receive calls from across the country to rescue big cats from undesirable or illegal situations. Those rescued can be at EFRC in a foster type situation and then they are usually made into permanent residents.
Touring the center gives visitors an amazing view of the cats, with the trail being just feet from the enclosure fence. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about each cat you’ll encounter. Some of the stories you’ll hear may be hard to swallow; especially for little ones. If your tour group doesn’t want graphic tales of these kitties beginnings just ask your guide to keep it kid friendly. They are very accommodating.
While walking the trail, we also learned interesting tidbits about the cats. For instance, did you know that a mountain lion, puma and cougar are really the same animal? I did not! The kids were also able to learn a little about why exotic cats really shouldn’t be kept as pets.
The tour lasts about 45 minutes over a relatively easy path that varies from dirt to gravel. Tour guides are very patient and will answer any questions curious little minds can think up; note that lots of questions can increase your tour time significantly. While we learned the stories of how each cat came to live at the center, we were reminded which ones could be aggressive and which ones liked to “spray” visitors. Thanks to this warning, we were able to dodge a spray by one particular cat. But, we were told that many visitors aren’t so lucky. Good to know!
Know Before You Go
Hours – Tour times are 10:00 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm every day. If you have a large group try to call ahead so they can accommodate you properly.
Cost – $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under. Please note that children under 5 yrs must be held or in a stroller at all times. Strollers/wagons are recommended for younger children but may be hard to maneuver over rough terrain.
Covid-19 info – Due to the transmission possibility of Covid-19 to felines all guests and staff are required to wear face masks at time of press. Please call or check the EFRC website for updated info.
Other helpful tips for your visit
- There may be construction, cleaning, or feeding going on during your tour, so utility vehicles may pass you.
- Tours are outside on gravel paths so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
- Tours happen rain or shine (ponchos available for purchase). Lightning, ice, wind, and other inclement weather may cause tour delays.
- Parking is available up the road from the main gate in a gravel lot on the right. You may notice cars parked along the side of the road; this is not recommended as it makes the road challenging for other drivers and farm equipment to pass.
- Golf carts are available on a first-come-first-serve basis for those who need them.
- Water and soda are the only refreshments sold.
- Pack a picnic and dine just inside the entrance at one of the wooden picnic tables.
- Restrooms onsite are only port-o-potties. They have two just inside the main entrance.
- Grab a coloring page of your favorite cat to take home. They are in a little hut just across from the picnic tables.
- EFRC patches are available for purchase. Scouting troops love adding these fun badges to their vests.
Bonus – Before Covid-19 the EFRC offered special events for families throughout the year including a pumpkin party and seasonal tours that provide a look at some of the cats not included in the general tour. EFRC is gradually bringing back special events so keep tabs on the website for these special treats.
2221 E Ashboro Rd
Visit Exotic Feline Rescue Center