Monthly Archives: January 2015

Turpentine Creek offers lodging with the big cats

Lori Lodging1


While most people have some idea of what to expect when they visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge – well over 100 lions, tigers, and bears, all rescued and now given a home – many do not know that their visit here doesn’t have to be just one day. You can stay overnight here as well.

“We have several lodging options at Turpentine Creek,” says Lodging Coordinator Lori Hartle. “The Siberian and Bengal suites are family friendly and right up alongside the main habitat area. You can see tigers right out your window or off your porch. Our Zulu safari lodges – the Okavango, Kilimanjaro, Kalahari, Serengeti, and Congo – are set back further and are more private, with an astonishing view of the Ozarks. These lodges are decorated with rare art and center on a hot tub and fire pit. Each has its own private back deck, and all the lodges there are adult only. The Okavango is also handicap accessible.”

There are yet more options for those interested in getting up close and personal with the big cats. “There’s the tree house,” Hartle says. “It’s pretty cozy and the children love feeling like they are sleeping up in the trees. It has a full wraparound deck so you can sit up in the trees and listen to the lions roaring.”

Turpentine Creek also offers six RV/tent spots with electric and water hookups, and some with septic.

For information about lodging at Turpentine Creek or to make your reservation online, go to:


Cattle donations a valuable resource for Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge



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

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 or call (479) 253-5841.

Additional Information Sources & Photos Press Contacts Don Lee – (479) 253-5841 Tanya Smith – (479) 253-3715



Update on Sadie

Sadie explores her new habitat area.

Sadie explores her new habitat area.


As you recall, our most recent rescue in October was Sadie, from a private owner over in Elkins, Ark. Her owners had divorced and were court ordered to find a new habitat for her, so we brought her here. We were concerned because she limps on her front right paw, and x-rays did show a fracture there.

The good news is Sadie is adjusting very well to her new surroundings and new human friends. According to Turpentine Creek Curator Emily McCormack, it takes time and patience to regain the trust of a big cat when it has been uprooted from the existence it knew, whatever the conditions may have been like.

“My favorite part of a rescue is when they recognize we are their friends and can relax and enjoy their lives here,” she said. “I wondered if she’d ever forgive me for giving her a shot. She looked me right in the eye when I gave it to her, and they remember. But she is doing great.”

Sadie was kept in quarantine and then in lockdown – the smaller area where they eat and sleep – for several weeks, mostly to give her paw time to heal. However, further observation and a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon at MU has led us to believe the injury is an old one, and Sadie’s limp has been going on for years. She limps out of habit now. Corrective surgery might well do more harm than good, if it worked at all. The limp probably developed as a result of the bad de-claw surgery she endured as a cub, which can lead to arthritis and other problems as tigers age.

Sadie loves enrichment – she received a Christmas tree to enjoy, from a generous donor, as well as gifts to unwrap from one of our interns – and on Tuesday, Jan. 7, she took her first steps out into her large habitat area. As you can see from the photos here, she had a good time despite the cold weather!

Cold weather brings challenges for big cat caretakers

Cold weather brings challenges for big cat caretakers

Abagail, an eight-year-old female Siberian tiger, romps through the snow. Cold weather provides extra challenges for us here at Turpentine Creek.

Abagail, an eight-year-old female Siberian tiger, romps through the snow. Cold weather provides extra challenges for us here at Turpentine Creek.

Although caring for over 100 tigers, lions, bears and other exotic wildlife is a challenge any time of the year, winter weather creates many extra challenges. Whereas tigers grow a winter coat, as do cougars and other native species, African animals suffer from the cold if not protected by heated enclosures.

“We’re fortunate to have had a nice leopard habitat for several years,” says Turpentine Creek Curator Emily McCormack. “Lions stress in this weather as well. We’ve just installed a heater in Thor’s new space. That’s especially important with the older cats of any type. Winter is hard on everybody.”

Thor has been a special challenge, McCormack says. “First we put a door on his space to keep the cold out, but he just ripped that off. Then we installed one of those big heavy-duty plastic cased heaters you can bolt to the floor, but I guess it looked like a toy, because he ripped that out as well. Now we’ve installed one of those floor heaters like you can put in your kitchen or bathroom under the tiles. We’ve covered it with a thin layer of concrete. We use a massive amount of straw for bedding for all the cats. We’re hoping that Thor’s new set-up will work out better for him.”

In addition to the heating issue, interns and staff must make sure the ice is broken regularly on the cats’ water. Winter also makes cleaning more difficult. “You can’t use a hose to clean out an area, leaving a sheet of ice behind for the cats to slide around on,” McCormack says. “And while the tigers playing in the snow looks great, it doesn’t stay pristine and white for too long. So we shovel it out by hand.”

McCormack says though it’s been cold this winter, the fact there’s been no snows has been a blessing. “If we could put a big bubble over the refuge to keep it warm, that would be great, but we can’t. Although it is hard on the electric bill, we take care of all our animals here, when it’s freezing cold and any other time.”

Letter From The President – Happy New Year!

Happy 2015! The New Year is bringing amazing new changes to improve the care we are able to provide our rescued friends at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

We continue to fundraise for our on-site veterinary hospital. Our groundbreaking is scheduled for February 21st at 1 p.m., so please come join us. We are counting on the weather to be good, but of course we never know what winter will bring our way!

Thanks to everyone who has donated to this project so far. Please consider a 2015 donation to help us make this dream a reality. Through your generosity we are two-thirds of the way to our goal!

You might check with your company to see if they offer matching funds for projects like this that support your favorite cause. Some companies do, and that will stretch your donation even further.

Our team has been extremely busy. Not only have we been tearing down the oldest cages in the main compound area, we are also currently rebuilding many of our older large habitats.



When I look at the pictures, I see why this is necessary. Those enclosures with the shorter fence have worked for many years, with most of the animals in these areas having special needs – they’re lame, blind, deaf, or other difficulties – so they aren’t too active. But future, younger cats will be.

The USDA is now requesting all open top enclosures be at least 12-ft. tall, with a 3-ft. re-curve or jump guard, or else it has to be 16-ft. if it’s straight up. And I can tell you that building new is much easier than rebuilding old.

Due to the location of these enclosures, maneuvering around adjacent habitats on these rugged Ozark hillsides while trying not to disturb the current lions, tigers and bear who reside in those areas, makes for some interesting situations.

I continue to be proud of each and every human being who gives their time, energy and lives to make a difference here. Once these projects are complete, our goal will be to fundraise and build a new entrance area, education area, multi-purpose room, café’, and gift shop. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and we keep on steppin’.

Our ultimate goal is to prepare Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge for the future. The past 22+ years have made me realize that our job isn’t going to go away. TCWR continues to maintain over 100 Big Cats here, and there are always new rescues.

With our GFAS verification, our association with IFAW and other facilities worldwide, we continue to see the mind-boggling need for animals needing rescue. You can be proud to know that 100% of your donations to TCWR go directly to help the animals. Our team raises the funds necessary for all salaries, plus all expenses through being open to the public, lodging, gift shop, etc. You designate where your donation dollars go. Choose one of our programs and give today.

Come see all the changes this year. I know you will be amazed. THANK YOU!

Click Here to donate today.