Monthly Archives: May 2015

Brushes and Wine Painting with a Mission FUNdraiser next week!


When was the last time you got in touch with your inner Picasso? On Tuesday, June 2, from 7 – 9 p.m., you’ll have your chance.

Come join friends and supporters of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge at Noodles Italian Kitchen in Fayetteville for an evening of fun, painting your own version of our lion Thor.

Turpentine Creek’s Brushes and Wine Painting with a Mission FUNdraiser will provide you with hands-on, step by step instruction from their talented artists. Absolutely no experience is required.

“When we did this in April, it went so well we wanted to do another one,” said organizer Bonnie Glover. “We raised $595 for the Refuge, and 34 people created their own works of art.”

Noodles Italian Kitchen is located at 3748 Mall Ave. in Fayetteville. Tickets are $35 and must be purchased later than 12 noon on June 1 in advance of the event. Space is limited.

A portion of ticket sales for this fundraiser will go directly to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Discount coupons are not valid for this event.

Food and drinks available for purchase at Noodles Italian Kitchen and not included in event ticket price.

To get your tickets, go to

If you have any questions or need further information, send an email to or call 479-876-8694.


Turpentine Creek doubles water storage capacity with new tank

new water tank

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been growing steadily for many years, and with each expansion, the need is always there to improve the refuge’s infrastructure as well.

That just happened again, with the acquisition of a 6,500 gallon water tank.

“Adding a new water tank may not sound quite as exciting as rescuing a tiger,” says Turpentine Creek Vice-President Scott Smith, “but it’s those rescues – for example our rescue in 2013 of 28 big cats from Mountainburg – that have led us to expand habitats, and in this case double our water capacity. We not only have all the habitats down at Rescue Ridge where we have to supply water, but Bam Bam’s pool is pretty big. So we’ve increased our water storage capacity to 13,000 gallons. It’s a good thing and makes a big difference here.”

Smith adds that while utility and infrastructure costs sometimes slip by in people’s estimations of what it takes to maintain a facility like TCWR, without maintaining and expanding all those factors, providing adequate care on all levels for the exotic big cat population would simply not be possible.

“You can only go forward or backward, and we are heading forward in our mission here,” said Smith. “We plan to keep doing this for a long, long time to come.”


New arrival at Turpentine Creek


Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has just welcomed the newest member of its big cat family, only this one is medium sized: Pickles, an African Serval.

Pickles has come to us from Prairie Grove. Sadly, Pickles’ previous owner passed away suddenly only a few weeks ago, and his wife, moving into a new place, needed to find Pickles a new home as well.

“He got Pickles from a breeder in Florida in 2008,” she explained. “He was in the automotive business, and someone brought a baby bobcat to work, and so he decided to get one too. But something a little more exotic. So he got Pickles.”

Pickles is very affectionate, she says. “With my husband he was very loving and playful. With me, he’s a little bit bratty.”

She says that oddly enough, her husband had always said that anything ever happened to him, he would want Pickles to go to Turpentine Creek. “It’s just sad it had to work out that way.”

Like all new arrivals here, Pickles will go into quarantine for a little while, and then be introduced into her new habitat area, where she can be visited anytime.


The Tail of the Naked Tiger

Sierra shaved

Tigers do not make good pets. They are too big to handle and typically end up being abused one way or another by their owners.

One form of abuse many do not stop to consider, says Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Curator Emily McCormack, is malnutrition.

“A case in point is Sierra,” she said. “We rescued her from Grapevine, Tex., in 1998. She’s 19, which is pretty old for a tiger. She had been raised on a diet of dog food, which has absolutely no nutritional value for a tiger. As a result, she has several health issues. She is our smallest tiger. Because her pelvic area never developed correctly, she can digest but not pass anything but boneless meat, which we then have to supplement with calcium and other vitamins to compensate.”

Last year, Sierra underwent surgery to relieve an intestinal blockage. “Basically she was constipated,” McCormack said. “For one thing, it was shedding season, and tigers shed a lot of hair. Just like a housecat, they get hairballs, and Sierra was unable to process and eliminate it. Her life was in danger, so we operated, despite her age.” She recovered.

Two weeks ago, Sierra underwent a second surgery. Same problem as the first time.

“We tried everything else we could first,” McCormack says. “Have you ever given a tiger an enema? Anyway, that didn’t work, but the surgery went well.”

Although the surgery successfully cleared that blockage, over the next two weeks, the problem built up again.

As a last resort, and following a final (and successful) tiger enema, McCormack came up with a solution. “We decided to shave her,” she said. “No fur, no hairballs. So I got out the shears. Not all the way to the skin – we didn’t want her to get sunburnt! – but now every time a breeze blows, she jumps and looks around and sorta goes ‘Oh!’ From now on, she will have a date with the barber every May.”

For those wishing to see Sierra’s new ‘do, come on out to Turpentine Creek, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., 7 days a week!

Baxter Bulletin covers Turpentine Creek lodging for Living Well magazine

baxter bulletin guys

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is making headlines again, and this time not just for its work taking care of abandoned lions, tigers, and bears. Last week two journalists from the Mountain Home newspaper the Baxter Bulletin paid a visit to Turpentine Creek. Their mission?

“Unique lodging in the region,” said staff reporter Josh Dooley. He and staff photographer Kevin Pieper spent an afternoon touring the refuge, but their focus was our overnight accommodations.

“The article and photo spread will be for the June/July issue of Living Well, a magazine we do at the Baxter Bulletin,” Dooley said. “We distribute it in doctor’s offices and other places where the public will get a chance to see what’s available in the area.”

In addition to the five Safari Lodges and the treehouse, TCWR offers two family-oriented bed and breakfast suites, as well as RV parking and camping spots.

“Our lodging just keeps growing and growing,” said Lodging Coordinator Lori Hartle. “And I’m sure this good coverage will get us some calls as well.”

For more information on lodging at Turpentine Creek, go to For details on Living Well magazine, go to


Contractor scopes out vet hospital site

The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge on-site veterinary hospital has come one step closer to reality. Accompanied by architects Terry and Janine McGuire and other members of the TCWR team, contractor Travis Hollaway spent an afternoon recently going over the area where the facility will be built.

The location for the hospital, between the main habitat area and Rescue Ridge, will make it an ideal setting for treating sick animals, rather than having to transport them to the vet, who is located between Berryville and Green Forest.

Now that funding has been completed for the building itself, it is necessary to equip it.

“To fully equip the facility will cost approximately $153,000,” says TCWR Curator Emily McCormack. “We have applied for a grant to cover that, but you never can be certain how that will work out. So we are going to be working to raise that money next.”

When complete, the hospital will include an x-ray/surgery, holding cages for recovery, an office, an enclosed garage/unloading area, a training/media area, and even a place for staffers to sleep if they need to stay with the animals overnight.

“There is a tremendous amount of red tape in making something like this happen,” says McCormack. “However, it will make such a big difference in the care we can extend to these big cats, lions, and bears. It can really stress them out to have to transport them miles away for treatments we haven’t been able to provide here. Now we will be able to, and that’s terrific.”

Construction on the new site is scheduled to begin this summer.

Carroll/Madison County appreciation day May 31

On Sunday, May 31, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge will celebrate its annual Carroll and Madison County Customer Appreciation Day. If you live in either Carroll or Madison counties, bring something that shows your address, an ID or a bill, and admission is absolutely free.

“We’re so grateful for the support our community gives us all year long, and this is just our way of saying thanks,” said TCWR President Tanya Smith. “We get people visiting from every corner of the globe, but sometimes people who live right here haven’t experienced Turpentine Creek. So this is your chance.”                                                      

New trolley, new driver at Turpentine Creek

Jim Ball

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has not only a new trolley for its trolley tours, but a new driver to drive it!

Jim Ball has joined the TCWR team as part-time trolley driver. Ball previously worked for 14 years for Eureka Springs Transit as vehicle maintenance manager and head mechanic, as well as driver.

“My father and grandfather were born in Eureka Springs, and my great-grandfather came here as a small boy right after the Civil War,” Ball says.

Ball said this new job wasn’t his first time at Turpentine Creek. “I used to come out here to fix stuff when I ran Bill’s Appliances in town,” he added.

Ball served in Vietnam as a helicopter crew chief, then worked as a tanker and in recon.

“It’s funny,” Ball said. “I was the one who originally went down to Little Rock to pick this trolley up when it was brand new, and now here I am driving it again.”

The trolley is a 2007 Chevrolet Goshen coach purchased from Eureka Springs Transit six weeks ago.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the refuge, and adding a second trolley allows us to serve the public better, and that in turn helps the cats,” says TCWR Vice-President Scott Smith.

Turpentine Creek offers both walking and riding guided tours starting each day at 10 a.m. each day. The walking tours run every hour on the hour, and the trolley tours run on the half hour.

Annual Membership Picnic, Blues Festival, Father’s Day weekend!

If you’ve been considering a membership at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, this is the time to do it!

Turpentine Creek will hold its First Annual Membership Picnic on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21. This day-long event will feature live music on the big stage, a wrap up to the week-long Eureka Springs Blues Festival, which runs from Saturday, June 13 through the 21st, with live blues at various locales all over town.

“We’re very excited to have a chance to give back to the people who support us all year round with their memberships to Turpentine Creek,” said TCWR President Tanya Smith. “And the fact it falls on not only Father’s Day but during the Blues week makes it all that much more special.”

Acts appearing at Turpentine Creek the day of the event will include the Brick Fields Gospel Brunch (the Nashville Blues Society called Brick Fields Music an "unleashed cleansing of the soul!"); Lucious Spiller (featured in Living Blues magazine and in the documentary "True Delta," Spiller was a finalist in the Blues Federation's International Blues Challenge in 2012, and in 2014, placed 2nd in the IBC's solo and duo category, which had 101 entrants from all over the world.); the Noah Wotherspoon Band (Wotherspoon is winner of the Albert King Award for Most Promising Guitarist at the International Blues Challenge); and an All-Star Jam.

Turpentine Creek Board Member and Blues Festival Organizer Charles Ragsdell encourages everyone to attend as many blues events as possible, in town as well as Sunday on site. “All profits from the Eureka Springs Blues festival go to benefit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and other area non-profit organizations,” he said. “We always love to see everybody Sunday at the picnic, but any event you attend will help Turpentine Creek, not just the Membership Picnic.”

Music will start at noon.

Food vendors will be on site with plenty to eat. Beer will also be available. No coolers please!

In addition to great food and great music, the picnic will include a giant inflatable bouncy house for the kids.

Admission to the event is free for members and $5 for non-members. Members also have access to the refuge during the event. Normal admission rates apply to non-members.

For more information on this event, call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge at (479) 253-5841. For details on the Blues Festival, go to or email

To get your membership to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, go to