Monthly Archives: March 2015

Students spend spring break with the big cats

Students from the University of North Texas were among those who volunteered during the spring break here at Turpentine Creek!

Students from the University of North Texas were among those who volunteered during the spring break here at Turpentine Creek!

Last week two groups of college students donated their spring break to volunteering at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge as part of their universities’ Alternative Spring Break programs.

“An alternative break is a trip where a group of college students engage in volunteer service, instead of the regular week at the beach or whatever,” says Turpentine Creek Volunteer Coordinator Ivy Cooper. “This year we had students here from both the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas. We got a lot done.”

Alternative breaks, became more prevalent on college campuses in the 1980s and early 1990s as part of an overall surge of interest in institutionalizing community service on college campuses. Rather than travel to a traditional spring break location, groups of students came together to form a new community that was immersed in education on social issues, service work, and reflection.

In addition to cleaning up the mile of highway along the front of the Turpentine Creek property, the volunteers from Texas did a major clean up of Bam Bam the grizzly’s habitat and completely tore down one of the TCWR’s older habitats so it can be rebuilt and renovated.

“Everyone enjoyed themselves, although a few did say this was the hardest physical labor they’d ever done!” Cooper says. “I guess I put ‘em to work. They sure did make a difference though.”

Turpentine Creek offers volunteering opportunities all year round. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact or call (479) 253-5958.

Scottish intern champions bears

Emma Campbell

While most of the interns who come to work at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge hail from within the U.S., such is not always the case. Take for example Emma Campbell. Emma, a first time visitor to this country, comes to us 4,146 miles from Scotland, in the United Kingdom.

Emma’s great passion, as it turns out, is bears. “There are no bears in the wild in Scotland,” she says. “However, the Edinborough Zoo has two sun bears and the zoo at Dundee has two brown bears. There are also polar bears at Kingussie Zoo. I have always been drawn to them, and so when I was at the University of the West of Scotland, I studied Biological Science and Zoology.”

To give an idea of Scotland, Emma points out there are more people in New York City than in all of her country, which is slightly smaller than the state of Maine, or a little over half the size of Arkansas.

Her accent draws attention. “I enjoy giving my tours here to the visitors,” she says with a laugh. “But sometimes they hear my voice and want to ask more questions about Scotland than about the animals!”

Emma has previously carried out research with European Brown Bears and want to work with bears in the future. “I would love to be involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of bears and big cats as well as get the opportunity to study them in the wild,” she says.

“I am so grateful for the chance to work with these animals and be involved in the important work Turpentine Creek does to save them,” she says. Amen to that.


Turpentine Creek “Painting With A Mission FUNdraiser”


Have you always wanted to paint but didn’t know where to begin? Now here’s your chance to pick up the brush for a good cause! You are invited to join the friends and supporters of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge for a fun night at our “Painting with a Mission FUNdraiser” at Mimi’s Cafe in Rogers, Ark.

Come paint your own “Tiger Refuge” to help support Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a non-profit organization that provides lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused, and neglected exotic big cats.

“We are coordinating this fundraiser with Brushes and Wine, a business that puts on painting events in partnership with local dining establishments,” said TCWR Education Coordinator Bonnie Glover. “No experience is required. You are provided step-by-step instruction by the artists who are there to help. At the end of the evening, every participant leaves with a painting they’ve done and hopefully new friends and a wonderful time.” A portion of the proceeds from the event will go toward funding for Turpentine Creek.

Mimi’s Café is located at 2105 Promenade Blvd. in Rogers. The event goes from 7 – 9 p.m. but participants are encouraged to arrive early to mingle.  Tickets must be purchased no later than 12:00 p.m. on April 7th in advance of event.  Space is Limited. Food and drinks available for purchase at Mimi’s Cafe and not included in event ticket price.

For more information on the event, go to, email or call (479) 876-8694.





Kite Festival at Turpentine Creek!

Kites galore at the 25th annual Kite Festival on Saturday, March 28, at Turpentine Creek!

Kites galore at the 25th annual Kite Festival on Saturday, March 28, at Turpentine Creek!

Kites were invented in ancient China 2,600 years ago, but you don’t have to go that far out of your way to see them fly! Spring Break will wind up here on Saturday, March 28, with one of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge’s most popular events of the year, its 25th annual Kite Festival celebration.

“Art With an Altitude,” sponsored by KaleidoKites of Eureka Springs, is a free family event. Attendees can either bring their own kites or buy one at the refuge. The celebration includes vendors, contests and fun activities for parents and children.

KaleidoKites’ experts will be on hand to assist children in kite making and flying techniques. Donations to the refuge are requested in exchange for kite-making assistance.

“Our kite festival has always been a very popular event here,” says TCWR President and co-founder Tanya Smith. “We always hope people will come out for the kites and see the work we do here with endangered big cats and other animals. It’s a great opportunity for fun and education at the same time.”

“Making and flying kites is a ‘green’ sport’ families can share,” says Steve Rogers, KaleidoKites co-owner. “It’s wind-fuelled and gets kids out in the fresh air and sunshine away from sedentary activities like TV viewing and video games.”

Rogers adds the event is a great photo op. “There will be world-class kites worth over a thousand dollars flown during the event,” he says. “These kites are works of art, which is only fitting for an artist’s community like Eureka Springs.”

For vendor information for this and other TCWR events contact

Turpentine Creek spring break right around the corner!

Sams Club volunteers 2

Spring Break is the perfect time to visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Flowers begin to bloom as the weather gets warmer, and the big cats spend more time outside exploring the changing season.

Many people come to stay at TCWR during their time off, and so the rooms tend to get booked solid during Spring Break. “At the moment there are still a few vacancies available,” says Lodging Coordinator Lori Hartle. “But we’re filling up fast.” In addition to its lodges, suites, and tree house, Turpentine Creek offers camping and RV sites, also popular once the weather begins to warm.

Because of its proximity to Eureka Springs, TCWR is a perfect jumping-off point to enjoy the rest of the area’s attractions, as well as shopping and dining downtown, and all the canoeing and other outdoor activities available west of the town toward Beaver Lake.

For many, though, it’s simply good to have time off from work or school to come here and spend time enjoying the exotic big cats. Walking and riding guided tours are available, and private tours are available upon request. (Ask about “Coffee With the Curator” or the photo shoot tours for more details.)

For those in search of more than a visit, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge always needs volunteers. Either individually or in groups, people find their donated time very rewarding. While there is never contact between volunteers and the big cats, as long you you’re over 18 (or over 12 if accompanied by an adult), there are many projects which need to be done that currently take time from our primary staff.

For more info on how to volunteer, email Ivy Cooper at or call (479) 253-5958.


New freezer built for Turpentine Creek

A handful of interns pause from preparing food for the animals to show off the new freezer being built for TCWR. It will hold up to eight week's food when finished later this month.

A handful of interns pause from preparing food for the animals to show off the new freezer being built for TCWR. It will hold up to eight week’s food when finished later this month.

Feeding 100+ lions, tigers, and bears at the rate of 800-1,000 lbs. of raw meat per day – that’s 365 days a year — gets pretty tricky. Luckily, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been blessed with many generous donors, including Tyson Foods, which regularly supplies huge amounts of raw chicken for our exotic population.

But where do you store it? Over the years TCWR has evolved an efficient and well-organized commissary (where interns butcher and prepare the food for the cats), with a mechanized sorting station, a chain hoist, and charts to show which animals gets what kinds of food based on their particular dietary needs.

A vital part of the commissary is its freezer capabilities. Currently TCWR can store enough meat to feed its big cats for about two weeks. But that item, freezer space, is about to take a big jump forward.

“The new freezer is 24’ x 32’,” says Turpentine Creek Vice-President Scott Smith. “It will hold tens of thousands of pounds more meat than we can store now. One third of the new space is a refrigerated area where the meat can be thawed according to USDA specifications, and the remaining two-thirds will be freezer. We can go from storing two weeks’ worth of food to six to eight weeks. It’s a huge improvement.”

The construction of the new freezer will also make it much easier for the interns to unload and store the meat from the trailer. Instead of having to unload the meat a box at a time, back-tiring labor, the truck will now be able to back right up to the freezer unload area, and the 2,000+ lb. pallets of chicken can be wheeled off the trailer and directly into the freezer, saving both time and tired muscles.

The unit will contain new storage racks and bins as well. Thanks to generous donations, the freezer is scheduled to be finished by the middle of March.