In March 2020 as part of my thesis project at at school, I had the opportunity to visit The Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana. The operation currently cares for roughly 150 big cats - lions, tigers (including the unfortunate victims of inbreeding, white tigers), leopards, cougars, bobcats, servals, and more, though at one time the number was closer to 250. A small group of dedicated staff spend their morning, afternoon and evening feeding the animals, cleaning their enclosures, and giving visitors tours of the facility.
As far as ethics go, the EFRC differs from other purported "sanctuaries" in that it neither breeds its residents nor allows visitors to touch them. Staff are allowed a "safe touch," with the back of their hand against the metal fencing, but exercise educated judgment for both their own safety and the safety of the cats.
The majority of the sanctuary's residents come from places of abuse and neglect. Retired circus owners who chain their animals in barns for years, drug dealers, child molesters, ordinary people without permits, and ordinary people with permits. The EFRC crew has traveled across the country, from California and New York to Florida and Ohio to transport the victims of these circumstances to their permanent, happy home at the sanctuary.