Okay, here’s a question: Can you guess how much meat over 100 lions, tigers, cougars, and other big cats eat per day? It depends a little, depending on the season, but the answer is about 1,000 pounds of raw meat per day. That’s every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
That’s a lot of ground chuck. Fortunately, we have several very generous meat suppliers – Tyson Foods, Inc., and a number of local freezer plants come through for us for low or no cost.
However, those supplies vary in quantity from time to time, so TCWR is always looking for other sources of food for our cats.
One way Turpentine Creek receives supplies that many people don’t know about is through farmers or others donating cattle that they have just lost or are about to lose.
“It happens quite a bit,” says TCWR staffer Victor Smith, who handles transportation of donated beef. “A cow dies birthing, or breaks a leg, and unfortunately has to be put down. When that happens, the owner has to do something with the carcass. If it’s within about a 30-mile radius, we’re happy to come pick it up. It sure helps us out.”
It is important the donated beef not come from cattle that have been treated recently with antibiotics or that have been sick, both of which issues can cause health problems for the big cats.
For a similar reason, TCWR unfortunately cannot accept venison unless it has been skinned and butchered – there are ticks and problems with deer, according to veterinarians.
Regrettably horse donations are problematic as well. “Horses are beloved pets,” says TCWR Vice-President Scott Smith. “It’s tragic when someone loses an animal they love, but again, we have to be worried about whatever medications may have gone into trying to restore the animal’s health, medications that could adversely affect our big cat population. So we have to say thanks anyway.”
TCWR also welcomes frozen meat that’s been culled from people’s freezers.
For anyone interested in participating in this type of donation, please call Turpentine Creek at (479) 253-5841.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Background
Founded in 1992, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization operating one of America’s largest big cat sanctuaries. The 450-acre refuge, located 7 miles south of Eureka Springs, is home to over 130 big cats and other endangered wildlife. Open every day, the refuge has been voted one of Arkansas’ Top 10 Destinations and is rated the #1 Attraction in Eureka Springs by TripAdvisor.com.
Admission prices are $20 for adults, $15 for teenagers, $10 for children 12-under, seniors, and military. Children under 3 are free.
Donations are welcome and used to pay ongoing care and feeding expenses for over 130 tigers, lions, cougars, bears and other endangered wildlife making TCWR a life-long home. For refuge and event details, visit www.www.turpentinecreek.org or call (479) 253-5841.
Additional Information Sources & Photos
Don Lee – Don@www.turpentinecreek.org (479) 253-5841
Tanya Smith – Tanya@www.turpentinecreek.org (479) 253-3715