CENTER POINT, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — An unsuspecting phone call to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center (EFRC) from a generous donor led to Friday’s groundbreaking for a new medical facility for the big cats.
The Head Keeper at EFRC, Rebecca Stevenson, recalled the conversation.
“It was definitely quite a day for me that day,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson returned the call.
“Thinking, okay, they’re going to want to volunteer. Not a problem, we’ll talk to them about volunteering. They said, ‘That was going to be a little difficult, we’re in New York,'” Stevenson explained.
Stevenson asked the caller, who turned out to be the Huck Family, what they had in mind. They responded to Stevenson by asking what kind of things the center was in need of.
“I said, ‘Oh, you can visit our website, we have a wish list, and you know, there are always things on our wish list there,” Stevenson said. “And they said, ‘We were thinking a little bigger, what are some big things that you need?’ And the first thing that came to my mind was a clinic,” she added.
The center’s founder, Joe Taft, lives at the EFRC. Currently, when the cats need medical care it’s conducted in Taft’s basement. That basement is equipped with all the medical equipment needed to help out the cats, but not an inch more.
“I sleep directly above the clinic,” Taft said. “So, if we have a Tiger in there for a week, it’s a little uncomfortable in my part of the house,” he said while chuckling.
A clinic was something leaders at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center dreamed of. A dream that would come true thanks to a generous donor.
“When they said, ‘done’ I was not ready for that,” Stevenson said. “I mean, who takes a phone call like that on a regular basis, no one. So, it was very surprising, almost surreal, you know, it didn’t really even seem real at all and here we are breaking ground, it’s so exciting,” she added.
Leaders say The Huck family has shown consistent generosity, but never to this level. The Huck’s created a vision to provide the cats with more comfort and care. They contracted Earl Rogers and Associates out of West Terre Haute to bring the need and vision to reality.
“This is going to let us provide all of them a much better life,” Taft said.
“They’re going to have a better recovery, a better life, they’re going to get better care,” Stevenson said. “Not that we don’t give great care already, it’s just going to be easier, it’s going to be less stressful for them, it’s going to make their lives so much better,” she added.
Officials say the new medical facility will be a 7,000-square-foot full veterinary hospital designed specifically for the big cats at the rescue center. They plan to finish the project in six months.
Currently, 110 animals call the center their forever home.