Lion attack highlights importance of safety at Indiana zoos, rescue centers

Many protocols in place at Exotic Feline facility

CENTER POINT, Ind. - Zoos and animal rescue centers across the nation are reviewing their safety procedures after being rocked by the tragedy in California.

"To keep these animals successfully, you have to be immersed in a culture of safety," said Joe Taft, founder of the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Ind.

The EFRC has been operating for 22 years and has more than 200 exotic cats from around the country.

VIEW: Images of cats at EFRC

The animals can be deadly, and that requires employees to observe strict safety protocols.

"What we deal with out here can be dangerous if you don't watch it," said Jennifer Hall, an animal keeper at the EFRC. "You have to follow all the safety protocols."

The rules include never entering cages, working in groups and ensuring that locks are secured. The rescue center says it's never had an accident involving its animals, though they're aware of this most recent tragedy.

"It's unfortunate that it happens and it makes everyone more aware of what it is we're doing and what we work with and appreciate it that much more," said Rebecca Rizzo, head keeper at the EFRC.

While authorities in California try to piece together the events leading to this latest death, the tragedy is a powerful reminder of the dangers that animal keepers face every day.

The Indianapolis Zoo declined to comment on its safety procedures.

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