National Zookeeper Week 2017

Meet Our Team

July 18, 2017

Turpentine Creek is full of dedicated individuals who do everything from filing paperwork all the way up to animal care. The third Sunday in July is the official start of National Zookeeper Week. This week is all about celebrating the individuals who work hard to promote conservation efforts and help endangered species thrive. For National Zookeeper Week 2017 we are featuring our animal care team members and giving our supporters a chance to get to know each and every one of them. Watch the playlist below to meet all of our amazing animal care staff members.

Celebrating Our Team

National Zoo Keeper Week 2017

July 16, 2017

July 16-22 is National Zoo Keeper Week. In recognition of dedicated animal keepers, the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) members are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week from July 16-22. As a member of the AAZK we are proud to join in a week celebrating our team’s efforts to educate the public about the plight of big cats in captivity and the need for true conservation efforts.

Although we are not a zoo, we are the caretakers of our animal residents and the educators of our human visitors. We work hard to provide everything the animals in our care need to live the best lives possible in captivity.

Our team puts in long hours in the blistering cold of winter and the blazing heat of summer because the animals need us. Animals don’t take a day off, they require fresh food and water daily. They need clean places to sleep and constant enrichment to keep their minds stimulated. We work despite the weather, muscle aches, scrapes, bruises, and blisters because we are dedicated to giving the animals in our care the best lives possible and they need us every day.

Because of this, we have planned a week full of special events for our team to show our appreciation. They deserve a week that celebrates their accomplishments, dedication, and passion. So, we’ve got something special planned for each day this week so that they know how much they mean to us.

Day 1 – Breakfast

Day 2  – Special Surprise Gift!

Day 2  – Special Surprise Gift!

Day 3 – Lunch

Day 4 – Ice Cream Social

Day 5 – Pizza Party

Day 6 – Special Surprise Gift!

Day 7 – Celebration Cake

Many of the daily event items were donated by board members or the company that provided us with the gift. We wanted to express our appreciation for the dedication and passion our team continually puts into making sure that our animals are well cared for.

We encourage our supporters to let our team know how much they appreciate what they do. You can send thank you letters to They will be presented to the team on July 21st.

Encouraging Nature

Engaging Our Animals’ Minds

July 14, 2017

We work hard to make sure our animals get the chance to be as wild as possible in captivity. That includes creating enrichment programs to encourage natural behaviors in our animals such as hunting, stalking, and ‘killing’ their enrichment toys. Watch the video to see some of these natural behaviors.

Live Video

Advancing Technology

July 7, 2017

For the past year, Turpentine Creek has been working to find a way to bring the big cats to you. No, not by loading up a lion and traveling across the country to your front doorstep, but by getting the technology to make our animals accessible from anywhere around the world. We aren’t just talking about great videos that were recorded days ago; we are talking about LIVE video of your favorite animals!

Getting live video is not an easy, or quick, process. The first step, which we took over a year ago, was to get internet access all over our property. We couldn’t just go out and sign up for a plan. We had NO cable network at the refuge, it had to be completely installed, poles were dug, electricity was run, fiber optic cables were buried, and a lot of trees were trimmed. Once that was completed we had to learn about the type of internet system we had (apparently there are different types!) and of course, make sure it worked the way we needed it to.

Beyond just getting the internet up and running, we had to find the proper equipment for live video streaming. You might have noticed the random live videos that have been accessible on Facebook over the last year. This is definitely a learning process, and a lot of trial and error has gone into getting equipment. We started out using cellphones, but the quality and abilities were not enough to do what we wanted, so we started researching technology. We are still working on this step, but we are getting VERY close to finding exactly what we need to provide our supporters with amazing live video access.

Live stream video is not available yet, but we hope in the upcoming weeks there will be more tests and soon we will be able to do prescheduled weekly live video, stream more veterinary procedures, and of course stream enrichment engagement on a more regular basis. We are starting small with only one portable streaming system, but we hope to eventually provide more access, possibly even some stationary cameras that will allow you to watch your favorite animal habitat at any time of the day.

We are dedicated to providing our supporters with the best experience possible. For once we are asking our supporters to Help Us, Help YOU. Getting live video running is not a cheap endeavor, please donate to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge so that we can get the equipment needed to purchase the stationary IP cameras, software, encoders, and other equipment needed to stream live video to you.

Click Here To Donate Now 

Watch our social media for the announcement when Live Video Streaming will be available. Coming soon!

Celebrating Your Wildlife

Wild About Wildlife Month AT TCWR

July 5, 2017

Turpentine Creek is spending the month of July celebrating Wild About Wildlife Month!

Join us for a month-long celebration filled with online contests, games, prizes, special enrichment, fun videos, and more! This event culminates with a fundraiser on July 31st to help us finish funding our two new large, natural, bear habitats!

Weekly Games and Prizes will be announced on our Facebook page

Each Contest will have 1 randomly chosen winner from all entrants. 

Week 1 Contest runs from July 1st until July 7th at 11:59 PM CST

  • Online Scavenger Hunt
  • 1. Who was the co-founder of TCWR who passed away in 2011? 2. What was the name of the SECOND lion that was rescued by the Jackson family? 3. What is our Mascot’s full name (What does TC stand for?)
  • Prize – 2 Free Tickets To TCWR

Week 2 Contest runs from July 8th until July 14th at 11:59 PM CST

  • Photo Contest
  • Send your favorite Photo (or memory) of your own ‘wildlife’ experience.
  • Prize – 1 Coozie covered coffee travel mug OR 1 TCWR Sippy Cup

Week 3 Contest runs from July 15th until July 21st at 11:59 CST


Week 4 Contest runs from July 22nd until July 28th at 11:59 CST


We will have a special 1-day contest on Saturday, July 29th for International Tiger Day


We will have a 1-day fundraising event on Monday, July 31st for International Bear Day

The Fourth of July

Celebrating Our Independence One Bite at a Time

July 4, 2017

Who doesn’t love the Fourth of July? The smell of hotdogs roasting, homemade ice cream, grilling BBQ, watermelons (with a hint of salt), and strawberry shortcake — not to mention the excitement that often comes with the colorful and startling display of fireworks and sparklers in the evening. The Fourth of July is a delightful festival that commemorates our country’s independence.

At Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, the Fourth of July is also the birthday celebration of one of our smaller and most dear animals, Flip the Coatimundi. This Fourth of July will not only mark her 13th year but also 8 birthdays celebrated free from the exotic pet trade and we are very excited for her!

So, why not on this 241st anniversary of our nation’s independence, you bring your family and friends out to celebrate the independence of the animals as well?! With a picnic table and benches all around the Discovery Tour, you can bring your hotdogs, watermelons, and strawberry shortcakes!

And as you chomp down on those holiday treats, learn fun facts about the abundance of wildlife at the Refuge! For example, as you take a bite out of your juicy watermelon, know that while the average bite force of a human is 162 pounds per square inch, a tiger’s is an astonishing 1,050 psi! And later, as you watch the colorful fireworks crackling and bursting at 150 decibels, know that a lion’s roar is only 36 decibels short at 114!

There is so much fun to be had in the summer holiday season and by having it at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge you will also be supporting the fight for the independence of all the animals who have yet to be liberated from the exotic pet trade.

Wild About Wildlife Month

Celebrating Our Wildlife

July 1, 2017

We are celebrating Wildlife all month long!

Help us enrich the lives of the animals that call Turpentine Creek Home. For the month of July we are asking our supporters to donate Enrichment for our animals. Enrichment makes the lives of our animals better and helps to keep them entertained.

Donate an enrichment item now

Enrichment Toys

Or Donate money towards the Enrichment Fund now

Evolving as a Sanctuary

TCWR’s Behavioral Management Program

June 26, 2017

Summers in the Ozarks are full of fun, family, food and, of course, felines! And picnics are an archetype of this sweet summer fun. At Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, we encourage our visitors to come out, bring their lunch, and spend some time watching the animals. With a picnic table and benches located close to our animal habitats, you can eat and learn more about all of the animal residents who call TCWR their sanctuary.

One of the most important elements of being their sanctuary is having the ability and the desire to constantly evolve. We can always do better and we will always do better. Many guests, specifically those who visited us in our earlier years, fondly remember our “feeding time” program that occurred at the end of the day. While for a long time it appeared to be a fun and educational way to feed the cats, it turned out that the constant stream of onlookers and indiscreet way of feeding the cats had erupted into an array of stress behaviors. We started to see notable food aggression and frequent pacing from the majority of our animal residents –even from those who had never been known to show any kind of aggression in the past. It was this realization that lead us to the decision to move away from the program and begin calm and discrete feeding groups at different times of the day. No longer doing the large “feeding time” program, we decided to then explore other programs that would be both beneficial to the cats and educational to the humans.

In January of 2016, we found the program — a form of animal husbandry known as the Behavioral Management Program. Behavioral Management Programs include the tasks performed to ensure the emotional and physical health of animals in captivity. Therefore, the purpose of this new program has been two-fold. First, this form of animal husbandry allows TCWR’s animal care team to encourage the animals to partake in enrichment activities –helping to prevent boredom and stress. And secondly, it allows for animal care staff to address health issues and perform routine medical check-ups without the use of sedatives.

For example, in the past, if one of the cats had surgery on their belly and needed their stitches checked, we would have to sedate them to get a closer look. Now, we can give verbal cues that instruct the cat to stand up against the habitat wall making the check-up wonderfully noninvasive –of course, only positive reinforcement is used, generally by way of delicious and delectable treats.

So far the program has had an encouraging effect on our animal residents and we’d love for visitors to share in this fun and educational opportunity this summer! Training with participating animals can currently be seen every day after the 4:00 pm Guided Habitat Tour in the Discovery Tour section of the Refuge.

So, if you are looking for something fun to do this summer, start by grabbing your lunch to go and join the evolution — learning more about what it takes to care for these amazing animals and soaking up some sunshine!

Sweet Treats and Cool Pools

Summer Fun At Turpentine Creek

June 21, 2017

Summer is here and the big cats and bears love cool treats! Watch our animal residents enjoy their own personal ‘popsicles’. Our bears get special fruitsicles and our cats get bloodsicles. Now, even though you might not like the idea of bloodsicles, our big cats love them! Watch the video and see just how much the cats enjoy keeping cool on the official first day of summer.

Building Enrichment

New Benches Needed

June 20, 2017

Chloe on an older style small wooden bench

The big cats, and bear, that call Turpentine Creek home spend a lot of their time gazing out over the beautiful expanse of the Ozarks a top of their benches. This high perch allows them to get out of the sun if they lay under it, or get a better view of their domain while sitting/standing/laying on top of it.

They not only use their benches to help them see better or get out of the sun, but they also use these benches as their own personal yoga mats and scratching posts. It is in their nature to mark their territory to let the world know that this is their spot. But the hard wear and tear on our benches, which means that we have to frequently replace boards and other pieces of our animal’s benches. Over time and after years of use we have to replace the entire thing.

Our team has worked hard to come up with a design that would reduce how often we have to replace the whole bench. A new metal frame will be more durable so that we are less frequently replacing the entire bench. We’ve kept the top part of the bench wood so that it doesn’t get hot in the sunshine and allows the cats to continue to stretch their paws and mark their territory. These boards are easily replaceable and can be changed out in a matter of minutes.

Each habitat contains a bench of various sizing, from a single level bench perfectly sized for one or two older cats to enjoy, all the way to a large three tiered bench perfect for energetic young cats looking for adventure and to play ‘king of the mountain’ with their habitat mates. Recently, we noticed that many of the benches were in need of replacing, so we set about the task to remove the old benches and build new ones.

Amber enjoying her new small bench

We currently need to fund the replacement of 23 small benches as soon as possible; two are already funded. The old benches were not offering adequate shade, and the structural integrity of the benches was not reliable. With your help, we can get all the benches replaced quickly and make sure our animals have plenty of shade and viewing spots ready for the start of summer.

Our small benches cost $600 each. We are asking our supporters to donate a bench for our animals. We are not allowing donors to request the bench be put in specific habitats because animals move and the animal you request might not be in need of a small bench at this time.

Please donate now and help us provide our animals with beautiful shady benches for the summer.

$600 – 1 small animal bench

13 Funded – 10 more needed