Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Reality of Cub Petting

How it is Detrimental To Conservation Efforts

May 25, 2018

Exotic animal cubs are heavily overexploited and overbred due to the extreme desire to view their cuteness. There are no “behind the scene” episodes of where the animals come from, or what happens when they grow into powerful apex predators. If the public knew that “liking” and sharing social media videos, following baby animal posts, or actually visiting a place to play with cubs was actually harming them, would they still be so popular? This is the information that every big cat lover needs to know.

  • Cub petting and pay to play schemes are some of the most popular interactive tourist attractions in the United States where animals are exploited for profit.
  • Animal-loving patrons are fooled into thinking they are helping with conservation or feeding an abandoned cub, and tricked into supporting cruel practices.
  • Cubs are stripped away from their mothers at birth, malnourished, sleep deprived, and lack proper veterinary care.
  • They are starved in order for them to be hungry for the next picture.
  • Babies are only allowed to be held from 8-12 weeks old legally.
  • Mothers are constantly bred to keep up with this window, when in the wild they would only have cubs every 2-3 years.
  • Breeding generic tigers and other exotic animals in captivity does not help with their conservation, or save them from going extinct.
  • Breeding actually causes a surplus of adult dangerous exotic animals, who are euthanized once grown and unprofitable, or sold to roadside zoos and circuses to live a life full of exploitation and abuse.
  • Very few big cats are fortunate enough to be rescued at a true sanctuary.

Are a few minutes of play and a photo worth a lifetime of suffering for a big cat?

For big cat lovers, there is a safe and beneficial alternative to help victims of the exotic animal trade and cub petting industry. Visit true sanctuaries that do not buy, sell, breed, or trade animals and provide them with a forever home. It is much more satisfying to know that the admission fees are going to help protect the animals from further exploitation and neglect. To see the big cats running around in large grassy habitats and playing with enrichment toys, to have a life they deserve.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has rescued abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted big cats and other exotic animals for 25 years. Not only will TCWR continue to provide Refuge for these animals, but continue to strive to educate every visitor to become an animal advocate and fight against the problem. Make a difference by supporting true sanctuaries and not visiting pseudo-sanctuaries or contributing to pay to play schemes. Together we can make a difference! Thank you for your continued support and “Helping Us, Help Them!”.

For more detailed information on Cub Petting, please Click Here to visit our Educational Information Section: Cub Petting.

You can help put an end to Cub-Petting in the USA by helping us pass The Big Cat Public Safety Act H.R. 1818. Reach out to your state representatives today and tell them that they need to support this bill and stop the exploitation and abuse of big cats in the USA.

Blog Written By Education Intern Hannah Wherry

A Purrfect Partnership

Big Cats for Small Cats

May 21, 2018

Inspired by the issues we see as a result of the exotic animal trade, as well as rampant homelessness among cats in NWA, TCWR will be partnering with local shelters to highlight adoptable felines! We will be implementing #MeetMeMonday across our social media channels and doing a special feature in our weekly e-newsletter that will give you the nitty-gritty on who might just be the kitty of your dreams!

There are at least 2,000 tigers being kept by private owners in the United States and countless other lions, leopards, and other wild animals in the same situation. After rescuing these animals for 26 years, we know firsthand the issues people encounter in their misguided attempts at domestication: from severe bites, to stitch-worthy scratches, to the simple fact that these critters grow from tiny, cute cubs to huge, destructive predators quickly. This leaves us scratching our heads when we read that there are 1.5 million shelter animals euthanized each year, according to There will be about 3.2 million cats waiting for a new home in 2018, alone.

Why would you want to contribute to the horrors of the exotic pet trade and put yourself and your family in danger by bringing a “big cat” into your house when there are many wonderful cats that have thousands of years of domestication in their DNA, who you could easily adopt today?

Check out the first candidate in your search for a lifetime companion, Mystic. This 8-month-old female was abandoned in a storage unit and needs someone to restore her faith in humanity. Will that someone be you? You can visit her at Purr Catfe in Fayetteville to find out:


Endangered Species Day

Raising Awareness

May 18, 2018

The problem with endangered species is how they become endangered in the first place. There are many, but two main reasons animals are disappearing from the Earth: loss of habitat and loss of genetic variation. But why do endangered species matter to us? Extinction is a natural process, and history has shown “normal” rates to be between 1-2 species per year. Currently, the rate of extinction is estimated to be 1000-10,000 times this rate. This is due to human causes, and we are entering a new epoch in time: The Anthropocene: where our geological footprint will forever be engrained in the history and geological records of our planet.

Endangered species are defined as a group of organisms that are at risk of becoming extinct due to habitat loss, alteration of ecological roles, or too few remaining individuals to sustain breeding of the species. Habitat loss due to human activity, cutting down forests for agriculture, draining coastal marshlands, as well as pesticides and chemical alterations to our landscapes have destroyed both the habitat and food supply for life on Earth. Pollution, overexploitation, population growth, and commercialized farming are also culprits to the rapid endangerment of our wildlife.

We are all dependent on the health of the natural world to survive by its provisions such as clean air, water, and food. Many species today are in extreme danger of disappearing forever due to our choices. We must protect the fragile Earth by making better decisions about what we choose to consume. By purchasing sustainably made products and lessening our personal impacts on the environment, we can each individually make a difference.

List of Endangered Big Cats

Critically Endangered

  • West African Lion
  • South China Tiger
  • Sumatran Tiger Amur Leopard
  • Javan Leopard
  • South Arabian Leopard
  • Asiatic Cheetah


  • Central Asian Leopard
  • North Persian Leopard
  • Persian Leopard
  • West Asian Leopard
  • Sri Lankan Leopard
  • Asiatic Lion
  • Snow Leopard
  • Tiger
  • Amur Tiger
  • Indochinese Tiger
  • Malayan Tiger
  • Bengal Tiger

Critically Endangered

  • Iberian Lynx
  • Iriomote Cat


  • Fishing Cat
  • Flat-headed Cat
  • Scottish Wildcat

How You Can Help

Action is Needed to Help Big Cats in Captivity

May 14, 2018

Many of us remember the incident that lead to 49 wild animals in Zanesville, Ohio being put down by authorities after having been set loose in town by their owner.  Tragically, 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzlies, three mountain lions, two wolves and a baboon had to be killed when tranquilizer guns failed. It was especially heartbreaking to lose so many Bengal tigers, who are on the verge of extinction. These animals had been living in cramped filth; the ones lucky enough to be left in their cages were taken to a better life at the Columbus Zoo.

THIS COULD HAVE BEEN YOUR TOWN:  According to National Geographic, “… trading, selling, and breeding of exotics often crosses state lines and is difficult to regulate. It’s estimated that between 10-20,000 big cats are currently in private hands in the United States – more tigers than in the wild – but no one, not even the USDA, knows for sure how many. “

You CAN do something to solve this nationwide problem!

    • Become an advocate TODAY – click here to ask your Representative to vote for HR1818.  This important bill will regulate the exotic pet trade, force owners to register their pets and meet standards of care, and eventually put an end to this escalating threat to both animals and humans.
    • Donate $18.18 a month or make a one-time donation of $1,181 to TCWR! Click here to show you stand behind this important legislation – when it’s passed, sanctuaries must make room for thousands of animals who will need forever homes, medical care and proper food.

  • Can’t give right now? Hold your own FUNDRAISER! You will not only help raise money for the animals, you’ll increase awareness about Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge! Kids can invite their class, or entire school, or even their scout troop. Adults can involve service clubs, offices, businesses, or online businesses!  We are more than happy to help with ideas and to send backup materials to help make your event a success.  Just call: 479-253-5958.
  • Share positive stories about big cats and other wild animals, like those on the TCWR website, to Facebook and Twitter, link it to YouTube and email your friends!
  • When you see a post or article that is misleading or exploitive about an animal post your comments, be polite and try to educate them in a positive way. You can also start a petition drive at or create a Facebook page to draw attention to the situation at If you witness animal abuse, email the USDA at for Eastern U.S. or for Western U.S. They regulate and enforce the Animal Welfare Act. Be “the squeaky wheel” – the more they hear from you, the more likely they will send out inspectors to investigate!

Help us help them!

Blog Written By Stewardship Intern Sandra Ames

Wild About Enrichment

Enriching The Lives of our Animals

May 7, 2018

When you see the word, enrichment used in our articles or hear it mentioned in our educational talks, we are speaking of a very important part of responsible care for captive wildlife. Many of us can remember seeing animals in small roadside zoos pacing back and forth or crouched listlessly in a corner.  When an animal is not able to take part in natural behaviors as they would in the wild it becomes damaging to both their mental and physical health.

Here at TCWR, we use enrichment to increase natural behaviors in our animals in several ways. First, we make sure their habitats offer plenty of room for them to run and roll on real grass and plants, giving them access to sunshine, views of the surrounding Ozarks, and other animals.

Within their enclosures, we present them with new weekly enrichment items: New boomer ball toys, cardboard towers, discarded Christmas trees, bowling balls and pumpkins are all beloved favorites of the animals to act out their predatory instincts on. The presentation of new items and scents relieves boredom and improves their overall welfare.

Scents play another very important part in stimulating natural behavior: Big cats and other mammals have an organ (referred to as Jacobson’s Organ) in the roof of their mouth that helps them detect scent particles. When stimulated in big cats, it causes them to flare up their lips and stick out their tongue to expose the organ to recognize sexual maturity, a female in heat, or competitive animals in the area. Our spraying scents or scattering spices for them to rub in also stimulates this response and prompts them to investigate and explore their surroundings. We are now growing herbs and spices for enrichment use in our new greenhouse!  Next time you see one of our big cats making this “stinky face” you will know they are happily using their natural instincts!

Since most of the animals at TCWR would enjoy cooling off in ponds or rivers in the wild during warmer months, we provide summer pools for them to splash in. The benches we build for them provide shade to nap in and serve as a substitute for the natural rock formations they would climb and sun themselves on in nature.

Without your help, it would be impossible to provide vital enrichment in the lives of these animals! Large predators are hard on benches and costly boomer balls; they must be replaced within months when they become unsafe. There are many more wonderful ideas for enrichment which can make the lives for these captive animals as rich and satisfying as those who run free:  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give our big cats in-ground pools to mimic real ponds vs. the metal tubs we now have? Or grow our own fruit trees to make enrichment treats?  YOU can make a difference in their lives!  Will you help us help them?

Click here to Donate NOW!

Better yet, choose a membership option here and enjoy the benefits for your family!

Blog Written By Stewardship Intern Sandra Ames

Celebrating 26 Years

Of Saving Lives

May 1, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge will celebrate our 26th anniversary Today on May 1. While there is no formal celebration planned, we are inviting the public to join us on our social media channels for a day of games, giveaways, reminiscing and fundraising. The Refuge will be open normal hours from 9 AM – 6 PM, which means the public is welcome to visit and provide an in-person salutation.

For supporters who would like to do something special to celebrate, we are asking for donations to raise $1,300 for their newly-formed education department. The creation of this department is a major milestone for the Refuge and something we feel will continue to be an asset for us, the general public, and the animals of the world for years to come. We maintain that education is one of the most important tools in combating the exotic pet trade and protecting animal rights.

The funds raised for the department will cover the cost of supplemental learning material, including replicas of animal skulls and claws, as well as supplies (glue sticks, paper, etc.) for our 2018 Summer Day Camps. For our supporters who are unsure of how much to give, we suggest $2.60, $12.60, $26, $126, $260, and so forth in honor of this special day.


The Refuge will also be remembering our history, sharing past photos and doing fun, online giveaways through their social media channels to show appreciation to their supporters. Join us for this fun-filled day and help us, help them!