IFAW Collaboration

A Hands-On Learning Experience

IFAW Team Member At TCWR

June 7, 2017

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has recently had the pleasure of hosting Meredith Whitney, IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Program Office, at our refuge. Meredith has spent the last two weeks participating in our internship program, getting her hands dirty and helping the team care for our animal residents.

IFAW, International Fund for Animal Welfare, is a non-profit organization that works with legitimate animal sanctuaries, like us, to rescue and protect animals around the world. Over the years IFAW has worked with Turpentine Creek during our major rescues, such as Mountainburg, and most recently gave us financial assistance us during the Colorado Project.

“Everyone at IFAW appreciates the opportunity to develop our relationship more, to work together. This was my first visit here, I was expecting a very high functioning professional organization, and I was not disappointed.”

Meredith’s job with IFAW is working to help with the captive big cat crisis in the United States, she spends most of her days in an office behind a desk, so this has been an interesting experience for her. She says it has been HOT and jokingly said that Emily, our Curator, has been making her do a lot of heavy lifting.

“Part of my job is responding to rescues and helping move animals; I need to keep my skills fresh and develop new skills, learn how all the sanctuaries that we work with work so that I’ll be more valuable to everybody and be able to assist when necessary,” Meredith stated.

IFAW works with many sanctuaries and could have chosen any one of them to send Meredith to for this experience. One of the reasons that they chose Turpentine Creek was because of our recent accomplishments with the Colorado Project. After heading up such a large collaborative project IFAW and Meredith saw this as an opportunity to learn more about how we navigated the joint effort and how we continue to work with the other facilities.

“Turpentine Creek does a lot of collaboration, especially on the Colorado Project that you pulled off so successfully, you also have fantastic safety standards here. You have an amazing staff that makes it easy for me to come in and work with you.”

Now that her two-week internship is completed Meredith will be returning to her normal job, but perhaps in the future will get the chance to visit other sanctuaries to get a little more hands-on experience. Although her ‘internship’ was brief, she did get the chance to see and do what we do. We put Meredith through her paces, and she came through the experience with a few more calluses and some wonderful memories

“During morning checks, part of the job is to get our eyes on every animal, look them over from head to toe, and make sure that they are behaving correctly. I think that is my favorite part of this experience. It gives you an excuse just to stand there and stare at every animal, for just a few seconds, but really, that is why we all do this, so that we can get the chance to see these magnificent creatures and be in awe.”

We anticipate the next opportunity to work with IFAW and continue to rescue big cats and other exotic animals in need.