Monthly Archives: April 2016

Old Habitats Get New Life

Oldest Habitats Get Completely Rebuilt

April 26, 2016

About a month ago we began a complete rebuild of our two oldest habitats. These habitats had served their purpose but with age comes deterioration and new knowledge on better ways to build safer habitats.

denforindia_3This double rebuild is one of the last steps on a complete renovation of our habitats. Late last year we began the task of updating and upgrading all of our habitats. New paint, fixing fences, changing door positions, and other various upgrades were done to the majority of our habitats. It took a lot of work and this update/upgrade project was definitely needed. Thanks to our amazing supporters we were able to get the work done quickly.

For the past few weeks, we have been rebuilding the fence portion of the habitat. We drove new posts, hung new fencing, and created new doors. From the start of the project, it was evident that not only did the fencing need replaced but the old dens needed to be replaced too. So we called in the “heavy machinery” to knock the old ones down. Late last week we were excited to drop the new night houses in place for the two habitats. This is one of the final steps of the rebuild and soon we will be able to release the tigers back into their habitats.

We only have a few habitats left to visit for some updates/upgrades and then Turpentine Creek will look like new! We have been working hard all fall, winter, and spring to get all the construction done on our old habitats. Once this project is completed, we can begin working on building new habitats in what used to be the compound area! We plan to build big, grassy habitats in the area that used to be filled with dozens and dozens of small cages. Those cages had served their purpose, to quickly save animals lives, but now we are focusing on building bigger and better habitats for all the animals we care for.

We do, however, need to think of a new name for the old “compound” area since it is no longer a compound.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach our goal!

Veterinary Hospital Equipment Update

Time Has Come To Equip the Veterinary Hospital

Vet Equipment Update

April 25, 2016

The veterinary hospital building is in the final stages before we receive the “keys”. All major construction is completed and now we are just making sure that everything is exactly how we want it. Soon, we will be able to do on-site health care for the animals at the refuge!

The vet hospital project began two years ago! Slow, steady work and wonderful supporters have made this dream a reality for us. We raised the initial $305,764 to build the vet hospital quickly. We were overwhelmed at how generous our supporters were.

Vet Hospital-1172-small

We took the time, two years ago, to also create an equipment list. This list was created from the advice of our current Veterinarian and research we had conducted. We priced every piece of equipment that we could think of and created a secondary goal from that list, the Equipment Fund.

It has taken us a bit longer to raise the funds for the equipment but we have seen steady progress. We have also continued to discuss our vet hospital with other facilities such as zoos, sanctuaries, and veterinary colleges, learning more and more about the equipment we might need on-site for the animals in our care.

103VetFor two years, our equipment list has sat, waiting for the day we could purchase all the items to fill our vet hospital. A few weeks ago that day had finally come, our animal care staff was excited to begin purchasing some of the items, it was like Christmas morning! But as soon as we went to purchase the items that we had raised funds for we noticed something… some of the prices had changed over the years! Inflation had struck!

So, we had to take the time to go over the list, updating prices and fixing our final goal amount, which is now $165,767. We also to the opportunity to add a few items that other facilities had advised us would be useful when working with large exotic animals like ours. We now have a complete, up-to-date, and final equipment list. We have already begun purchasing items, with the $103,494 that has already been raised, so that prices don’t change on us again.

We want to make a final push and get all the funds soon so that we can purchase all of our needed equipment at the current price, and be able to use our vet hospital as soon as possible!

Thank you to all our amazing supporters who have helped us raise the $103,494 so far. Our new Goal amount is $165,767. We only need to raise $62,276 to finish equipping the vet hospital! Help us, help them get the best available medical attention possible. Thank you!

Click here to donate to the veterinary hospital fund now and help us reach our goal. 

Equipment still needed

Equipment                          Cost

  • Safe                             $150.00
  • Computer                    $1,000.00
  • Pullout Couch              $400.00
  • Large Cap. Washer     $719.00
  • Large Cap. Dryer         $719.00
  • UA Analyzer                $1,000.00
  • Refractometer              $43.00
  • Microscope                 $340.00
  • Refrigerator/Freezer  $1,260.00
  • shelving units (2)        $200.00
  • heavy duty clippers     $365.00
  • surgical pack               $580.00
  • surgery table               $16,000.00
  • squeeze/roll cage       $16,000.00
  • CBC blood machine     $23,500.00

Preventative Health Care

Thunder 2 ManiPurr

April 22, 2016

Thunder2-3777The staff at Turpentine Creek does their best to prevent emergency vet visits for the animals that call Turpentine Creek home. They watch their behaviors and as soon as someone notices difference in their behavior the senior animal care staff tries to find out what is causing the issue. Recently, the staff noticed that Thunder 2 was favoring a paw and was limping slightly. After careful observation, they decided that the issue was caused by his claws.

Luckily Thunder 2 is much more reasonable when it comes to sedation than other unnamed cats. A few chuffs between staff member and tiger, a little distraction here a little sneaking there, a quick poke of the pole syringe, and 20 minutes later Thunder 2 was curled up in a corner napping. Which did pose a bit of a problem, since it is not easy to move a 500lb tiger away from a wall so you can properly take care of him, but with 4 staff members they managed.Thunder2-3794

They double checked that the tranquilizer was in full effect and then entered his night house. It took some effort pushing, pulling, and struggling for a bit before the staff members eventually managed to maneuver the huge tiger away from his fencing so that we could fully access his paws. Once they had the chance to truly check his paws we confirmed their suspicions, some of his front claws were overgrown and pushing into his paw pad. With how they were ingrown there was no need to call in a vet, TCWR had all the tools necessary here to preform the “Manipurr” on Thunder 2.

It took a little time but they managed to trim all his claws, do a full inspection of the large tiger, and even groom him a little big before the tranquilizer began to show signs of wearing off. The staff quickly cleaned up their supplies and after hooking Thunder 2 up to two fluid IVs backed out of the night house and secured the door behind them. Thunder2-3818Thunder 2 napped throughout the rest of the day and is doing well. He might be a bit grumpy for a while, due to the forced nap, but he will be much happier without his sharp claws poking into his pawpads.

The staff hopes he will finally learn to spend some time doing self “Manipurrs” by sharpening his claws on trees and benches in his habitat. But, since this is not the first time they have had to give Thunder 2 a “Manipurr” they have the feeling this will not be the last “Manipurr” for Thunder 2 or many of our other cats.

Roars for Riders

Fifth Annual Arkansas 500 A Success

April 19, 2016 Ark500-3622

82 Dual Sport Motorcycle riders joined our Vice-President Scott Smith for his fifth annual fundraising event, the Arkansas 500. For 4 days, from April 7th until the 10th, these men and women road the rough trails around North West Arkansas to support Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Together, after expenses, they raised a grand total of $6,156.59 for the animals at Turpentine Creek!

Some of the riders found out about the Arkansas 500 from outside sources and had never been to Turpentine Creek before. So, they took the opportunity to walk around Turpentine before or after the ride. The fundraiser was a great way to reach a fresh audience and help educate them about Turpentine Creek’s mission.

Out of the 82 riders, 31 finished the whole event. The majority of the riders dropped out early so that they could drive home. Some individuals drove 14 hours just to attend the Arkansas 500. There were only 5-6 break downs during the ride, but that is to be expected when riding on rough terrain. Ark500-3577The ride has grown over the years and this year they exceeded expectations. The initial 50 spots filled up in only a few short days and Scott worked hard to expand to accommodate as many riders as possible. When he finally had to stop accepting riders many people were left out of the adventure.

Everyone had a fun time and many are already planning for next year’s event. The ride has been so successful that Scott has begun making plans for a second ride, which will happen later in the year. It will be on a different set of trails to give returning riders a new experience.

We want to thank everyone who participated in the Arkansas 500 and invite them to return again next year! This was an amazing way to fundraise for the animals at Turpentine Creek.

Wild Tigers Numbers Up

Wild Tiger Population Increases For The First Time In Decades

April 16, 2016

chuff-50410World Wildlife Fund has announced that for the first time in decades the wild tiger population has increased! This is a wonderful turn of events in wild tiger conservation efforts! In 2010, there were “as few as” 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild. Through hard work by many various groups, the latest report has revised the tiger population to “at least 3,890. The increases come from Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan who’s governments have all been actively working to protect their native tiger populations.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge may not have a hand in wild tiger conservation, but since the United State’s captive tiger numbers are an estimated 10x larger than the wild tiger populations it is an issue we should be aware of.

Despite this increase in numbers, wild tigers are far from ‘out of the woods’. Poaching, black market trading, loss of habitat, etc. are still big issues in the world. According to the WWF a minimum of 1,590 tigers were seized by law enforcement between 2000 and 2014. Poachers are still killing these majestic animals for the black market in many places. To truly save the tigers it will take a global effort and global awareness of their plight.

Daisy-8274The increase of the tiger population is, in part, due to a movement called Tx2, which has the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by the year 2022. This most recent survey shows that so far they’re efforts have been made in the right direction.

The group, the Global Tiger Forum, met for a 3-day conference to set the plans for the next six  years for the Tx2 movement. The group stresses the importance of tiger governments to know their local tiger populations and the threats that they face.

It is only through education, conservation, and government support that we will be able to save the wild tigers.


Neonatal Cub Rules Updated

A Big Step In The Right Direction

USDA Updates Rules on Cub Handling

April 13, 2016


Miss Priss Bobcat in 2012 as a cub.

Turpentine Creek was excited to receive the official notice from the USDA about the new Neonatal law passed to protect newborn and infant (Neonatal/neonate) nondomestic cats (tigers/lions/cougars/bobcats/leopards/etc.) from being handled.

Although this law does not effect Turpentine Creek, as we are a hands off facility and do not allow public hands-on interaction with any of our animals no matter their age, we do see this as a very important step to protecting big cat welfare, reducing cub petting schemes, and eventually stopping the unrestricted breeding of big cats in captivity.

The USDA has officially set the neonatal age to 28 days or younger. Cubs, in this age category, are not allowed to be handled by the public. If the USDA finds a licensed facility to be in violation of this new law, they will be seen as noncompliant with the veterinary care and handling requirements of the Animal Welfare Act regulations and could have their licenses revoked.

BB King 2008 Sponsorship Photo

BB King Tiger in 2008 as a cub.

The updated regulations on neonatal cub handling are due to the fact that cubs from birth until approximately 28 days cannot regulate their own body temperature and do not have a fully functioning immune system to fight off infections. The USDA suggests that cubs of this age either 1) be with their mother and healthy siblings as long as possible or 2) be housed in a controlled environment of heated, clean, and sheltered enclosure (such as a nursery).

“Neonates obtain immunity from their mother, primarily through antibody-rich colostrum (first milk), and should be housed with their mother as long as possible after birth to promote good health,” the USDA letter stated.

We, and the animals in our care, appreciate all the voices that have helped to make these changes. Change can only happen when we stand up for what we believe in and what is right. This is not the end, only the beginning. We still need your help to protect exotic animals from abuse, neglect, and abandonment.


Mack Tiger in 2008 as a cub.

Please continue to lend your voice to our cause. Sharing our mission is only part of what needs to be done to protect big cats. We must stand together and call out to the governing bodies that we will not stand for the mistreatment and mishandling of big cats and other exotic animals. Something must be done to keep us safe and the keep these animals safe.

Please continue to contact your local, state, and national representatives and let them know of your concern about the private ownership of big cats and other exotic animals. Let them know that you support the H.R. 3546 & S. 2541 Big Cat Public Safety Act, which will enact a single, nationwide, regulation on the ownership of big cats and other exotic animals.

Click here to learn more about the Big Cat Public Safety Act on website.

Click here to view IFAW’s Flyer about the Big Cat Public Safety Act

CATC Preview

Cats At The Castle Count Down

April 11, 2016 

CATC Artwork-3627

Painting by Bobbi Harrington

Only 12 days left until our fifth annual Cats at the Castle fundraiser! We invite you to join us on Saturday, April 23rd at 7pm for the “Mane” event! Tickets are still available for the “Mane” event, but they are going quickly!

During the “Mane” event there will be a silent and live auction. We have had some amazing donations for our auction this year including beautiful paintings, jewelry, collectables, gift cards, gift certificates, and much much more!

Bid on an overnight package, which includes a massage, at the Crescent or Basin hotel! Win a limited edition Red Ryder bb gun, take home an amazing tiger painting, or you could take home a family movie night package for the kids. So many amazing items to choose from all while helping out the animals at Turpentine Creek!

CATC Artwork-3630

Paintings by Shala Crisp

Enjoy a variety of heavy horderves while looking out over an extraordinary view of the Ozarks and listening to the music of Brook Fields. Take a break from the every day and spend the evening with the animal care staff of Turpentine Creek at the amazing Castle Rogues Manor on April 23rd. The “Mane” event starts at 7pm on April 23rd. Tickets are $110.00 per person and includes: a full bar, open seating, food stations, silent and live auctions, and music by Brick Fields.

Click Here to Purchase your “Mane” Event Tickets Now while they are still available.

CATC Artwork-3633

Painting by Ventura Aford. Up for auction at CATC.

CATC Artwork-3636

Painting by Ventura Aford. Up for auction at CATC.

Final Food Bowls Arrive

SPECIAL DELIVERY! Final Food Bowls are at TCWR!

April 10, 2016


Andy Cody from Hughes Springs TX. Delivered the food bowls when he came for the Arkansas 500.

We have received the last shipment of all the food bowls that we had ordered! These food bowls are custom made to make feeding our big animals as safe as possible. We are very safety conscious here at Turpentine Creek. We want to make sure that our animals get fed in the safest way possible, and make sure that the interns who feed them are protected from hungry animals.

The food bowls are heavy duty and allow us to safely slide a tray of meat into a specially designed metal holder that will keep the animals from reaching through and ‘grabbing’ at the food and the intern feeding them.

We have been testing the food bowls for months and have found them to be a success. This last shipment of food bowls will allow us to install a food bowl in every big cat habitat. Making Turpentine Creek safer for interns, staff, and animals alike.

We want to thank Thanks to Johnny Wallace and Beatrice Putman Ross for helping with this project. Thanks to their help feeding our animals will be much easier, cleaner, and safer for everyone. Thank to everyone for all your continued support. Check out the video below to see how the food bowls work and two of our cats, Duke and Rayn, demonstrating how effective they are.

Magic Leopard Health Update

Behavioral Training Used for Health Exam on Magic Leopard

April 8, 2016

MagicExam-3524Three weeks ago, in mid-March, we noticed that Magic leopard was not going to the bathroom properly. She was still eating and although a little grumpier than usual nothing else seemed wrong. We did what we could at Turpentine to help her but after a few days decided to take her to the veterinarian and have them check her out.

The veterinarian decided to do exploratory surgery and quickly found the issue, she had a very large tumor in her uterus. The veterinarian performed an emergency spay on her and extracted her entire reproductive system.

Magic has healed fine, no infection, no pulled stitches, and she is back to her old self.

We are very happy to report that during this whole medical adventure with Magic we were given the chance to see how well our behavioral training program has worked.

MagicExam-3555Magic leopard is one of the many animals at Turpentine Creek to participate in our behavioral training program, and she is definitely a success story! Magic is not a friendly leopard. She hisses, growls, and charges the fence with many staff members. Ivy, her most tolerated staff member, was chosen to work with this grumpy leopard to see if we could help reduce the stress of medical exams for her.

She enjoyed the treats and quickly learned the commands of come, sit, target, and the most useful to date up.

After Magic’s surgery, we expected her normal behavior, hissing, spitting, and avoiding staff in general. We were amazed that even the day after her surgery that she approached Ivy and somewhat participated in her daily training. Day two she was still grumpy but more willing to participate in training as well.

During training Ivy frequently used the up command to get Magic to stand so we could check on her stitches and check for infections. It was thanks to her training that we could keep her stress low and watch the progress of her healing. We knew exactly when we could let her back out into her habitat once the incision had healed enough that there was no risk of infection.

MagicExam-3543She is still a grumpy leopard, but through our positive reinforcement behavioral training, she is starting to warm up to the staff members a bit. She also seems to like and anticipate training. When she sees Ivy and the training tools she will jump down from whatever perch she has found and rushes over to greet Ivy warmly.

We never force our animals to do training. All animals that are part of the behavioral training program do so because they want to. If an animal does not want to train they don’t have to, they still get fed normally and are not punished in any way, shape, or form. Behavioral training is not to show off our animals, it is used so that we can perform stress-free examinations of the animals. Our ultimate goal is to be able to use the behavioral training to do things such as blood draws, paw inspections, and other hands off health-related exam without needing to tranquilize the animals (currently our only option when we need to do these things). The training will help us reduce stress on the animals and make sure they are happy and healthy in our care.

University of Georgia Athens Presentation

Expanding Educational Program

April 5, 2016

IEmily-n mid-March, our Animal Curator, Emily McCormack, visited the University of Georgia Athens. She made the long trip to the college, so that she could give a presentation to the Veterinary Students Animal Welfare Club, and Exotics Club. Her goal was to help educate these students and teach them about not only Turpentine Creek but also the plight of all captive exotic animals in the USA.

“I was Honored to be asked to speak. It really brought awareness to the Vet School that is top notch for exotics. After the presentation, there were 20, or more, people waiting in line to talk to me. I learned a lot,” Emily said about the trip.

Emily had to add to and revamp an existing presentation for the veterinary students. She had a lot of material to work with. Most Zoos only have around 5 tigers while Turpentine Creek has ten times – if not closer to twenty times- that number.

“The variety of veterinary situations, of illnesses and diseases, that we have seen here far surpasses other places. Putting all that into presentation was amazing. A lot of the situations were jaw dropping,” Emily said.

Emily-0407This is just the first step in our educational outreach expansion. Our goal is to eventually send individuals to give presentations to many different college or university in the country upon request. With our new Veterinary Hospital nearly completed, we plan to eventually expand our intern program to include Veterinary interns.

We hope to not only use our new Veterinary Hospital for optimal care for our animals but also let upcoming Veterinarians gain the experience they need.

Though presentations, such as this one, at schools that have not only biology degrees but veterinary degrees we hope to raise awareness and eventually make a veterinary extern program as well known and respected as our internship program already is.

To make Veterinary externships possible it will take a lot of research into the laws in Arkansas, it might take a few years but we plan to do what we can to find ways to best use the Veterinary Hospital that you helped us build at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.