Monthly Archives: January 2018

Spring Internship

Educating The Next Generation Of Keepers

January 30, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is not only one of the best big cat rescue facilities in the country, we are also the home of one of the best big cat internships. Our internship program is known worldwide. We have had over 400 interns pass through our program over the past 25 years and those interns are now working in zoos, sanctuaries, and veterinarian facilities around the world.

Our internship program is run bi-annually. The fall internship starts in September and the spring internship starts in February. Each internship group has between 14 and 18 interns, some of which are interns who have applied to stay a second, third, fourth, or even fifth time! These interns dedicate 6 or more months of their lives to helping the animals that call Turpentine Creek home and learn a lot of skills here that they will use during their careers.

Today, our spring interns for 2018, have begun to arrive. Many arrive a few days early so they can get settled in before they begin working 6 days a week. They work hard, getting hands-on experience on how to care for dangerous carnivores. They will spend time learning directly from our Curator, Emily McCormack, and our experienced animal care team members.

They will learn a variety of skills, from big cat nutrition to behavioral training and even how to build habitats. We are very focused on safety around our animals and a large portion of their training is dedicated to this. They are fully submerged into animal care at our facility and learn a lot while they are here. They work rain or shine, snow or blazing heat, the animals in here need care every single day and our team, both permanent staff and interns, work hard to provide that for them.

During our internship program, a group of strangers becomes a family and a little piece of their hearts bonds with the refuge. They know that for the rest of their lives Turpentine Creek will be another home for them, and they will always be welcome to return here with open arms. We are very happy to welcome our new batch of interns and cannot wait to see what amazing things they accomplish with us over the next 6 months. Keep an eye out for more information about the new interns as we get to know them.

New Den Buildings

Flip and Servals New Night Houses

January 23, 2018

Turpentine Creek has been making some changes this winter. Late last year, we completed work a new heated building for Goober to spend cold winter days. Shortly after the completion of his building we purchased two more prefab buildings. Those buildings are currently being fixed up to provide large, heated night house dens for our servals and Flip, our coatimundi. We are proud to say that both buildings are only days away from completion!

Flip and the servals have been very curious about all the construction happening right next to their habitats. Our team has already installed the access doors that will lead from the habitat to the two buildings. Only a few last modifications are needed in Flips to make it Coatimundi friendly. The servals building needs a little more work but it is only a few days behind Flip’s. We hope in the next week or two to be able to give all of them access to their new homes!

Both coatimundis and servals are warm-climate animals. We currently provide them with small heated dens but these new buildings will give them larger areas to enjoy during cold days or just days they feel like being inside. The dens will be accessible throughout the year with heating in the winter. There are air vents and windows to provide ventilation and cooler air circulation during the summer.

We do our best to provide habitats and dens that fit the animals that live in them. We are appreciative to our supporters who have helped us make it possible to provide these special dens for our warm-climate animals. We are always striving to give our animals the best lives possible. It is only through your help that we can continue to provide for the animals in our care, please donate today to help us continue our mission. With your help, we can continue to rescue animals in need.

First Snow Of The Season:

A White Tiger Paradise

January 15, 2018

The residents at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge got a special treat this week, the first major snowfall this year. Big cats, especially tigers, absolutely love the snow, it is a new scent, texture, and mental enrichment item that only nature can provide for them. And they are more than prepared to enjoy it. Tigers get an extra thick coat and an extra layer of fat during the winter to keep them nice and warm even during the cool, wet snow season.

Our white and pure white tigers especially seem to enjoy the snow, since this is the only time during the year that they are truly camouflage and can try to sneak up on team members without them noticing (although we do notice them… we just act extra surprised during the snow storms).

White tigers do not often occur in the wild. The last documented wild white tiger was in the 1950’s, and since then all remaining captive white tigers have come from a very small family tree. Officially, all white tigers in American descend from one of two sources. The most well-known line is Mohan, a white tiger captured in the wild in 1951, who was bred with his daughter, Rewa, to produce white cubs. Another American bred white tiger line that may or may not have a relation to Mohani is the Kubla/Susie line which produced Tony and Tony’s cousins Bagheera & Frosty (Susie’s sister’s cub). Kubla’s parents were wild tigers who were brother and sister, and Susie’s parents are not known publicly, so there is no way to know if she is any relation to Mohan.

With only possibly two sources of white tiger blood in the U.S., that means all white tigers are extremely inbred. This inbreeding has lead to many genetic defects such as being cross-eyed, have shortened tendons of the forelegs (Clubfoot), kidney problems, higher rates of cancer, arched or crooked spines, twisted necks, snub/pug nose (like Kenny), cleft pallet, stunted growth, malformed jaws bones, deformed teeth, and many more birth defects. White tigers are extremely unhealthy and should never be bred.

Beyond the white and black color combination, white tigers can also produce ‘pure’ white tigers (white tigers with no or very faint stripes) and strawberry/golden tabby tigers. These color variants come from the white tiger line and are even more recessive than the white coloration.

Although Turpentine Creek is against breeding tigers, especially white tigers, and other big cats in captivity we are home to eleven white tigers, two pure white tigers, and one Golden Tabby tiger, all who were acquired from other facilities through rescues or rehoming efforts. We will not turn an animal away due to their coloration or health issues.

It is only with your help that we can continue to care for the many cats and bears that call our refuge home and fight for the protection of big cats in captivity. Click here to donate now and help us, help them. 


Keeping Cool Cats Warm

Winter At Turpentine Creek

January 8, 2018

Winter brings cooler temperatures and shorter days for the residents at Turpentine Creek. Typically, the temperature in Eureka Springs averages in the mid 30’s in December and January, but since New Year’s Eve, we have been experiencing below average temperatures in the teens and single digits. Luckily, the temperature has finally begun to return to normal levels, but for a short time, the big cats at Turpentine Creek got a taste of what some of their cousins in the north experience every year.

Some people worry that the big cats might get too cold during these wintery blasts, but be reassured we do our best to prepare and provide our residents with warm areas to get out of the cold. We fill their dens with bedding that helps to keep the temperatures in the dens 20-30F degrees warmer than the outside area. Beyond what we do to keep our feline friends warm, nature has also provided many of our animals with warm, thick winter coats.

Some subspecies of tiger, such as the Amur (Siberian), are native to the northern reaches of Russia, which averages temperatures around -40F in the winter months. Because of this, they have adapted and evolved to withstand extreme winter weather by growing a dense winter coat. Even the most fridged winter weather in Arkansas doesn’t even come close to these extremes.

Wild animals are adapted to survive the cold and will naturally seek warmer shelter to escape the cold. This is why visitors will see our bobcats, cougars, and tigers during the winter but the bears, leopards, and lions are seen less frequently. The cold weather cats spend their days soaking in the sun and playing in the snow (when we have snow) while the warm weather animals tend to spend the winter cuddled in their warm dens.

Some of our animals are less adapted to cold weather, such as our lions, and for these animals, we provide them with warm spaces to escape the cold. We are working on getting electric run throughout the property so that we can eventually install heated dens wherever it is needed. We also keep a very close eye on our animals to make sure that they are not showing signs of adverse effects from the cold weather.

Your support and donations help us provide the best quality care for all the animals that call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge home. You can help us provide food, warm spaces, enrichment, and much more by donating now.

We also want to remind everyone that we are open during the winter season and that you can visit any day of the year, except Christmas Day.

Looking Forward

A New Year At TCWR

January 2, 2018

The landscape of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is always changing for the better. We continuously put effort into improving the refuge so that our animal residents can have the best lives possible. In 2017, we began building two very large, natural bear habitats that will span over 3.5 acres when they are completed. Over the next few months, these habitats should be completed, and we can move on to new projects. We’ve already received the funds to rebuild our oldest cougar habitat, are currently working to finish up the serval and Flip’s heated night houses, and have plans for more habitat improvements that will be happening throughout the year.

We cannot predict precisely what will happen in 2018, but we anticipate a busy year of building habitats, rescuing animals in need, and fundraising to help care for the animals. We are also expanding our education program and should be kicking off the fundraiser for our new education building on top of all the other improvement projects that are in the works. This upcoming year will be exciting for us all, and we invite our supporters along for the ride!

A lot of changes are happening at Turpentine Creek, but our number one priority is always the animals that live at the refuge, this is their home after all. 2018, is already looking to be a fun and active year filled with special events, activities, fundraisers, and most likely a few rescues. Are you ready? We sure are!

Do you want to start 2018 off right? Signing up for our Sustainers of Wildlife recurring monthly donation program is the best way to help the animals at Turpentine Creek and take a step towards a philanthropic new year.

Some examples of how your recurring donation could help the refuge:

$10 a month = $120 a year = 1 medium Enrichment Toy

$25 a month = $300 a year = 1 large Enrichment Toy

$50 a month = $600 a year = 3 weeks of meat for a full grown big cat

$100 a month = $1,200 a year = 1 month of Gas to heat the refuge

$350 a month = $4,200 a year =  1 month of Electric to run the refuge

Setting up recurring donations helps us plan projects for the year and also gives us a better idea if we can take on new rescues. Your help will allow us to save more lives in 2018, and care for the animals we have already rescued. Help us, help them and make 2018 the best year at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge yet!

Click here to make a one-time donation now or Click here to sign up for our Sustainers of Wildlife monthly recurring donations.