Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 Year In Review

Year in Review: 2015

December 31, 2015

2015 has been a very productive year at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Many BIG accomplishments have been made here, but this isn’t the end of our accomplishments and changes, only the beginning.

In 2015 we:KarmaNewYear

  • Built a new road This year we build a new road so that the staff could get around the refuge without using the ‘tour’ road. This way our visitors are safer. It also opens up more options for tours, since there is now little to no traffic on the tour road other than the tour trolley.
  • Started building a Veterinary Hospital on site Thanks to donations from our wonderful supporters we were able to break ground and start construction on our new Veterinary Hospital. The hospital sits between our upper habitats and the lower Rescue Ridge Habitats. The vet hospital will allow us to make sure our animals get the best health care. We are still raising fund to equip the hospital and construction will continue into early 2016.
  • Purchased a new freezer We can now hold on property 100,000 pounds of meat with the addition of the new freezer. We purchased it because when we get calls on donated meat and the other freezers could not hold the capacity needed.
  • Upgraded some staff housing, which was desperately needed We had to replace three bathrooms in our staff housing. All of our animals staff and some other staff members live on the refuge. Making sure that their housing is in good condition is a priority. We do our best to fix what we can but sometimes we just have to do a complete rebuild.
  • Built enough habitats that ALL our animals could be in large, grassy habitats  This year we worked hard and now have a total of 57 habitat at our facility. These 57 habitats house all of our animals.
  • Watch the final cat put their paws on grass from the compound We released Shasta and Izzy tigers into their habitat in September. This final freedom was a long time coming. We are so excited that all our animals are now in large, grassy habitats.
  • CRASHED the compound We had decided a long time ago that the moment the compound was no longer needed we would demolish it. Rescues from that point forward would go directly into a large habitat. So with the help of some heavy equipment the old compound was turned into rubble in only a few short days in October.
  • Started the rebuild and refurbish our habitats Habitats need maintenance, new paint, and a little love from time to time. Since we don’t need to build new habitats now that all our animals are in habitats, we have started refurbishing and rebuilding some of our habitats. Two habitats will be rebuilt in 2016 that have been standing since the mid 90’s. We should finish the refurbishing sometime early next year and then we can move onto building new habitats where the compound used to stand.

So much has changed, and will continue to change, at Turpentine Creek thanks to our wonderful supporters. We can only do what we do thanks to your donations and support. Thank you for a wonderful year! We cannot wait for all the amazing things that are coming in 2016! Happy New Year everyone!

Training Program

Building Bridges between Zoos and Sanctuaries

December 28, 2015

On January 8 and 9, 2016, Turpentine Creek will host our first animal training event. Animal advisors from the Little Rock Zoo, Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, El Paso Zoo, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and BamBam-7126Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo will be here to advise the staff on how to target train our animals.

This is the first step to bridge a gap between Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoos and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) sanctuaries. We are bringing them in to help teach our animal care staff how to incorporate the best training methods into our own daily routines.

Animals that are living in captivity in the United States – that are being properly taken care of – are either living in AZA zoos or reputable sanctuaries, such as GFAS sanctuaries. AZA and GFAS strictly regulate their respective facilities, and set very high standards regarding living conditions for the animals.

“We believe that these top notch places in both categories should work together. If you are going to have animals in a captive institution, then we all need to share ideas and work together,” Emily McCormack, TCWR Curator, stated.

As reputable sanctuaries are non-profits, most cannot afford to send their staff to the same expensive training programs that AZA zoos can. This training program will give TCWR, and eventually other sanctuaries, an alternative that will improve the quality of life for the animals living at the sanctuaries.

“By having these knowledgeable people coming in to us, we will have some of the best training available. Each of the trainers have years of experience under their belts, which they can now pass on to our staff,” McCormack said.

EmilyMcCormack_IzzyTiger_ReleaseDay-8958Animal target training will depend on a variety of factors. The key factor is if the animal wants to participate. Animals who do not show interest in the training will not be forced into the program and all training will be based on positive reinforcement.

“It can be stressful for some animals when we shift them from their habitats to night houses, clean their water dishes, give them vaccinations, and other various daily tasks. This training would help to minimize the stress for the animals we take care of here,” McCormack said.

For this first event, only TCWR staff members will be attending. We will open up future training events to other sanctuaries.

Christmas for the Cats

Don’t forget the animals at Turpentine Creek when holiday shopping!

December 21, 2015

Christmas is only days away and most of us, ok… some of us, have all our Christmas shopping done. You bought gifts for your family and friends, and even some of you bought gifts for your pets, but have you bought gifts for the tigers?

TRoulon-57102rue, even if you bought gifts now they most likely wouldn’t be here by December 25th, but that doesn’t matter, animals don’t look at calendars anyway! You can purchase a gift for our animals any time of the year and it will be like Christmas to them!

There are many ways to give gifts to the animals at Turpentine Creek (And the good news is that unlike the PS4 you bought your kids, many of the gifts you give the animals at Turpentine Creek are tax deductible!)

Here are a few ideas on how you can help the animals this holiday season:

You could donate money so that we can finish building the Cat’s Food Bowls, which are safer for the humans and animals alike. We still have over 70 bowls to build and install. We also have to purchase the metal bowls that go into the metal casing that we are having built. We need those and a few backups. Please consider making a Christmas donation that will not only help the animals but keep the staff and interns safer.

Click here to donate and help now. 

You can also purchase items from our Amazon wish list, which will be sent directly to our front door! Click here to see our Amazon Wish List. 

You could purchase a Boomer Ball from Wildlife Toybox, they come in all different shapes and sizes and all the animals would appreciate a new toy for Christmas. Click here to visit Wildlife Toybox’s website and get more information. 

You could adopt or sponsor an animal, this helps them all year round! Click here for more information about our adoption and sponsorship program. 

Donations help the cats most. Not only do we have to feed our animals and make sure they have clean, safe habitats but we have to pay the electric bill, and other necessary bills to keep our facility running. This might not be an item the animals can play with but it is one of the best gifts you can give them, it insures that they have a forever home with us. Click here to donate now and help us provide a forever home for our animals.  

You could visit our online shop and purchase something for yourself, the proceeds go to help the cats so you get something and they get something. To visit our new online store click here.

You could purchase a family membership, the money for visits and memberships goes directly to taking care of the animals. More information about our memberships please click here now.

There are numerous ways to give gifts to the animals here at Turpentine Creek. Please Help Us, Help Them this holiday season. Timing doesn’t matter to the cats, but when you gift before the year is out it helps you and them at the same time!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our supporters!

December Vet Hospital Update

The end is in sight, Veterinary Hospital Progress Report

December 19, 2015

12345586_941304525962901_9193100809474599279_nThe Veterinary Hospital is coming along quickly. We are only a few short days away from frame of the hospital from being completed. We will have to wait until spring to finish the exterior, constantly above 50-degree weather, but once the frame has been completed we will be able to move inside and start on putting in the insolation, walls, building containment areas, painting, etc.

We are still raising funds to equipped the hospital, we still need over half the $151,788 needed to fund all the specialized equipment needed. Big Cats cannot use ‘normal’ sized medical equipment. We have had to custom order a surgery table large enough to hold a full grown lion/tiger/bear. It is expensive to custom make items, but it is necessary.

12369016_941304542629566_872018385776872210_nThe vet hospital will make sure that our animals are in the best health. We can perform emergency surgeries, tooth extractions, blood tests, and other procedures without leaving our facility, which reduces stress on the animals. It is also safer since most Veterinarians are not fully equipped to handle such dangerous animals.

This Veterinary Hospital will open opportunities to learn and improve health care practices for big cats. Please help us reach our goal to raise the $151,788 needed to properly equipped the hospital. The Veterinary Hospital should be completed by mid spring so our time is running out, most equipment needs to be ordered now to be here by the time the Veterinary Hospital is complete.

Click Here to Donate Now, not only will you help keep our animals healthy but by donating before the end of the year you could also benefit. Donations are tax deductible, put your hard earned money to good use.

New Online Store

Shop and Support the Cats this Season!


iPad Case

December 17, 2015

Help support the refuge by shopping! Our new online store is live and ready for you! We currently have a few items up; such as our calendar, iPhone cases, iPad cases, bags, and more! We are updating our store frequently, but remember it is a work in progress so not everything is available yet. If you don’t see what you want, you can check back or email us and we can try to get the item available soon.

Click here to visit our new online store now and take a moment to look around. Purchases made now will not arrive until after Christmas but they still make great gifts! All proceeds from our online store go towards helping take care of the animals and support Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge as a whole.

Thank you for your patience as we work on improving our website and update our content.

Holiday Giving

We Need Your HelpHeather-51089

December 15, 2015

Dear Friends,

Will you help us?

As many of you know Eureka Springs is, for the most part, a destination location. And despite many years of cooperating efforts to bolster tourism during winter months, our beautiful town still experiences the “cold shoulder” of Old Man Winter. Unfortunately, while many local shops and restaurants are able to alleviate annual costs by temporarily closing their doors, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is unable to share that convenience. So, it is during this time that we need your help the most!

Click Here to Donate Now, the animals need your help.

Because they do not hibernate, it’s necessary to provide our exotic population with compassionate care throughout the year. They must still be given food and water. Their habitats must still be cleaned. And they still require veterinarian care, as well as supplements and medication. To be quite transparent, our annual operating cost – with no one receiving large salaries or bonuses – totals approximately $1.9 million; specifically $158, 333 per month, $36,538 per week and $5,205 per day. So, the humble truth is…we need your donations now more than ever.

Knowing full well that a penny saved is a penny earned, we consistently try to reduce daily costs and ask for items/supplies (i.e. office, janitorial, etc.) to be donated on a regular basis. I also discovered Katy-57569years ago that in order for the Refuge to prosper, it was necessary to diversify our revenue streams. That is why we offer so many opportunities for you to support our mission.

Click Here to find out how you can help by Adopting or Sponsoring one of our animals.

In April 2016, my family, friends, co-workers, interns, volunteers and you will have taken care of these animals for 24 years. Our team and the population who call the Refuge home are eternally grateful for your generosity and support. And please remember that any donation made by December 31, 2015 can be used to help ease your tax burden this year.

So, I ask again, will you help us?


Tanya Smith, president

Habitat Upgrade

Habitats get desperately needed upgrade

The staff and interns, at Turpentine Creek, have been working hard over the last few months to update and upgrade our old habitats. Most of the habitats are getting a fresh new coat of paint, higher fence heights, and some needed repairs. All of the tiger habitats in the main field needed repairs and adjustments.

Our goal is tScreen Shot 2015-12-11 at 10.50.15 AMo keep ahead of our habitats. We want to repair them before they become an issue. Repairs are simple, like bench rebuilds, repainting, and higher fence heights. We have been open since 1992, almost 24 years, and our oldest habitat about 20-years-old. For safety reasons, and because as the years have passed we have gained access to better, stronger, more durable, materials, it is time to tear a few of those old habitats down and build better ones.

With hard work, dedication, and a lot of blood sweat and tears, we have reached the halfway point. Thanks to some unseasonably warm weather we are down to only 6 habitats to update and 2 habitats that need completely rebuilt. We just finished refurbishing BB and Mack’s habitat and have moved onto Heather and Ziggy’s habitat, which is already almost half way done!

If you would like to assist us in our habitat rebuild there are a few things you can do,

  1. 20150822_103014Volunteer. We always need extra hands to help paint the habitats.
  2. Donate. It costs a lot of money to maintain our habitats, thousands of dollars per habitat. It also costs between $25,000 and $30,000 (or even more for really large habitats) to do a complete rebuild of a habitat. This is money that is not part of our current annual budget for the care of animals.
  3. Spread the word. If every one of our Facebook followers, Newsletter subscribers, and other online fans just donated $5 we would have enough to build more than 20 habitats! So truly every dollar helps and spreading the word brings more attention to our mission to rescue abused, abandoned, and neglected big cats.
  4. Sponsor/Adopt an animal. Part of the adoption/sponsor fees goes towards helping maintain the animal’s habitat. We have over 100 animals here at Turpentine Creek and less than half have sponsors, each animal can only have one sponsor. We can have up to 20 adoptions on each animal (Approximately 2,000 adoptions available) but only have about a quarter of total adoptions used. Adoption doesn’t just help the animals, you get a year membership with your adoption/sponsorship so that you can come visit us at any time, you also get a certificate for the animal you have adopted/sponsored. It is a win, win situation!

Help us, Help them


Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Final Report

Wow, Giving Tuesday showed us how dedicated our supporters are! This year we set a really high goal, $158,000 which is approximately what it costs to run Turpentine Creek for one month. Although we did not meet that goal we did have an amazing day full of wonderful comments and generous donations!

Through Facebook, Twitter, Razoo, call in donations, mail in donations, and wonderful in-person donors we hit a remarkable $17,829 raised ($11,467 on just Dec. 1st). It was amazing to see our supporters rallying behind us and helping us bring in the money needed to see us through the end of the year.


Mickey Gilley Benefit Concert in Branson, MO on Dec. 1st 2015.

Beyond just our online efforts Mickey Gilley hosted a benefit concert to help us raise funds. By the end of the night through ticket purchases, donations, and a wonderful donation by Mickey Gilley himself we raised an additional $5,000 from that concert alone, bringing our grand total up to $22,829!

What an amazing team we have behind us! Most of the donations that made up this total were less than $50! That means hundreds of people showed their support and stood behind Turpentine Creek and our mission to save big cats.

Thank you everyone for your support! You are all amazing people. Without you we wouldn’t be able to do what we do and rescue these wonderful animals.

New Steps

New Stairs at the Downtown Gift Shop


The Building of the New Stairs to the Turpentine Creek Downtown Gift Shop located at 2 Spring Street, Eureka Springs.

Our downtown gift shop has seen some changes recently. The old, narrow, crumbling steps have been torn down and new, solid steps now frame the entrance of our downtown location.

This improvement has been needed since we opened the downtown location. The new stairs will make it easy to enter the shop and also helps improve the look and feel of the shop.

We are doing everything we can to make sure our visitors are comfortable and can enjoy the Turpentine Creek experience, both at the refuge and downtown.

Please take a minute and stop by to see our downtown location if you are in Eureka Springs. It is a great place to get information about Turpentine Creek, purchase tickets, and learn about the refuge, before making the trip 7 miles south of Eureka to visit the animals.