A one-eyed tiger named Sebastian winked through the wire fencing. He paced around his enclosure, surrounded by grass, structures for him to play on and two pumpkins filled with meat.
The Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana, was celebrating its annual Pumpkin Party, an event that takes place in November to kick off the season with its inhabitants: big cats.
The Animal Club watched Sebastian and the others in awe. This outing was one of many in which Animal Club participates.
“Animal Club is a laid-back club for people interested in volunteering with animals,” co-President Alyssa Baker said. “It allows students to get involved with the community and animals.”
Baker, a junior, has been involved with the club since her freshman year. She was browsing the endless list of clubs IU offers when she stumbled upon Animal Club.
The club volunteers at various shelters and sanctuaries and offers non-mandatory trips to animal-related places around the area. The first weekend of November was one of these trips, allowing students to get close to tigers, lions, leopards and more.
“I really enjoy all of the events we do because they’re really fun and are often things that I didn’t know about, like the Pumpkin Party,” freshman Breana Davis said.
Baker said the club volunteers at Our Lil’ Bit of Heaven, an animal rescue center in Poland, Indiana, each year.
“Our tasks depend on what they need,” she said. “Normally we clean cages and walk the dogs, but this year we painted their fences. We do whatever the organization needs, and we never really know until we get there.”
Baker said most members involved in the club miss their pets at home and want to get involved with animals. She has three rescue cats — Olive, CJ and Pinky — who encourage her love of working with rescue animals.
Davis also loves animals. She said she joined because she wanted to work with animals and volunteer with like-minded people.
“It’s a great atmosphere to meet friends and hands-on interact with animals,” she said.