Monthly Archives: July 2019

Kings And Queens At The Refuge

International Tiger Day

July 29, 2019

Tiger Queen Khaleesi

Tiger Queen 2019 Khaleesi

Today is International Tiger Day! Today is a day we focus on the plight of tigers around the world. To celebrate this important day, Turpentine Creek asked our supporters to help us crown the Tiger King and Queen of the Refuge! Our supporters have voted and we are happy to announce that this year’s Tiger King is Snowball and Tiger Queen is Khaleesi! Thank you to everyone who voted! Thanks to your support we raised $4,233 for our new well!

What is International Tiger Day?

Tiger King Snowball

Tiger King 2019 Snowball

International Tiger Day is a special day dedicated to celebrating the world’s largest cat species, and to raises awareness about their struggles in the wild. 47 tigers currently live at Turpentine Creek in their forever home, away from entertainment facilities and private ownership. Unfortunately, there are still around 7,000  more privately-owned tigers across the United States. We are constantly fighting at TCWR to ban private ownership and stop abuse and neglect of these magnificent creatures. Not only are they heavily exploited in captivity, but their wild counterparts are fighting for survival across Asia, with only 3,800 left in the wild.

As an apex predator, tigers have evolved to use their keen senses to catch their prey. Sight and sound are two of the most important senses for hunting. Tigers are not able to see different colors as vividly as people, but they can detect the slightest twitch of an ear or tail from their prey. They are ambush predators, quietly sneaking as close as possible to their prey without making a single sound. They do not chase their prey, rather they pounce with full force, grasping their catch with their claws and biting it in the neck for a fatal attack. They are only successful 20-30% of the time they try and hunt.

Princess Shasta 2019

1st Runner Up Tiger Queen Shasta

Tigers use their sense of smell to communicate with one another and protect their vast territory. They use scent glands all over their bodies, rubbing against or scratching trees to claim their domain, and are constantly spraying urine everywhere in their home. If they smell anything different than their scent they know what competition has been in their area, whether a potential mate or a rival.

In the 1900’s there were over 100,000 tigers in Asia, inhabiting a large natural range throughout the wild. As the human population grows and agriculture expands, they have already lost 93% of their natural habitat and their numbers have decreased to 3,800. Palm oil production is a major contributor to habitat loss for the Sumatran tigers. Losing this amount of area pushes them closer and closer to people leaving them little space to find the necessary space and food for survival, and causes human-wildlife conflict.

Runner Up Tiger King Tigger

1st Runner Up Tiger King Tigger

Tigers are sought after for their parts as many cultures believe they hold medicinal properties. Poachers kill tigers for their body parts and to sell their furs, and use their bones for a popular tiger bone wine drink in Asian medicine. They are worth more dead than they are alive. Instead of being able to roam freely, they are kept in tiger farms to supply the demand of trade. All 5 subspecies of tigers are endangered, with about 10 years left before they go extinct if we do not protect them.

With more tigers living in private ownership in the U.S. than in the wild, it is time to take action! This Tiger Day, let your state representative know you are supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act, aiming to prohibit the private ownership of big cats and ask them to support it as well. You can also support conservationist efforts across the world that are attempting to save tiger habitats but also patrolling the habitat for traps poachers have set up. You can be the voice for the tigers who are lost every day!

For more information on ways to help wild tigers visit:

Wildlife Conservation Society

World Wildlife Foundation

Project C.A.T


Keeping It Real

Celebrating Keepers Week at Turpentine Creek

July 24, 2019

Interns with special birthday enrichment

Animal Care Interns

There’s always something to celebrate at the Refuge! This week, we are shifting the spotlight from our brave survivors of the Exotic Pet Trade to the people who care for them in honor of AZA’s National Zoo Keeper Week (July 21-27) and National Intern Day, July 25!

Throughout the week our team members received fun treats to express how much their hard work is appreciated. The team was gifted free movie passes, a lake cookout, a lunch pizza party, a cake, and breakfast treat, all donated by some of our wonderful supporters, team members, and board members, to show the whole TCWR team just how much their dedication means to the Refuge.

Three communications ladies at Sipping for Sanctuary

The Communications/Development Team

This year’s theme for Keeper Week is “Keeping it Real: A Keeper’s Life Beyond the Dirt,” with the goal of educating the public on what animal care professionals really do. On your visit to TCWR, you may see our team of interns and staff biologists wielding shovels and hoses, trudging across the dirt paths with wheelbarrows and food trays to address the needs of our animal residents. It’s clear they work hard to keep our residents healthy, well-fed, and comfortable in clean habitats, but what is their role beyond that? You may also observe the Wildlife Interpreters on our Education Team setting up well-organized tables showcasing biological wildlife models or guiding a group of children through a cute crafts project, but what are they actually accomplishing? And what about the people you don’t see, sitting behind desks with their fingers clicking across keyboards- how are those people even related to the mission?

Team members carrying a bear

Animal Care Team Members and The Smiths

We like to use Keeper Week to introduce you to all the working parts that keep TCWR functioning. This year’s theme opens up more doors for us to do so. Our animal care team aren’t only the people on pooper-scooper duty; they are well-educated professionals with a commitment to the future of wildlife. In addition to our staff animal care professionals, we have a group of animal care interns that come here to learn how to be the best animal caretakers possible, dedicating their lives to our mission six months at a time. You don’t always see the hours the team spends planning meals according to each animal’s dietary needs, coordinating the appropriate enrichment for each individual resident, monitoring their behaviors to get ahead of any health issues that might crop up, and using this information to create a custom plan that ensures any and every need our Exotic Pet Trade survivors have is met.

Education team members and kids at day camp

Education Team and Camp Kids

Our Wildlife Interpreters are much more than the people brave enough to keep 140 school children engaged and entertained at a time. Beyond their formal education and experiences, they have been certified through the National Association for Interpretation. For them, fall and spring are full of school groups and their summer calendars are dotted with programs, day camps and workshops. They spend winter researching, modifying, and planning their schedule of programs and activities for the coming months, as well as doing off-site presentations and outreach. By spreading education and awareness in creative, engaging, emotionally-charged format, our Interpreters are turning ordinary people into advocates and educators, paving the way to a brighter future for captive and free wildlife, as well as our planet as a whole.

Lodging ladies getting ready for a day of cleaning

Lodging Department

TCWR also has important team members who do not work directly with our animal residents; this includes our maintenance staff, gift shop employees, Lodging Department, Marketing and Events Coordinator, and our Development/Communications Department. Maintenance fosters a safe, pleasant space for our guests while making sure all Refuge vehicles are functioning properly so our animal care team can travel across the hundreds of acres on property to perform their duties. They also partner with animal care to build and maintain habitats. Without them, it would be hard to keep our facility operating at GFAS standards!

Gift Shop team member and visitor

Gift Shop Team

Our gift shop employees are on the front lines; they’re the first people you meet when you visit the Refuge. This means beyond selling tickets and merchandise, they are often the first people to introduce our mission to visitors and are step one in creating advocates and ethical tourists. Our Lodging Department draws new supporters to the Refuge and creates a lasting connection with them by providing a top-notch overnight experience (due largely to our housekeeping team who adheres to high standards of cleanliness!). Our Marketing/Events Coordinator along with our Development/Communications Department raise the necessary funds to keep our animal residents in a safe, lifelong home and help communicate our mission while spreading education and awareness to a wider audience.

Marketing team member Ike

Marketing Department

We would not be where we are without our entire team, as well as the former interns who continue to carry TCWR’s mission in their hearts. Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without you, our honorary “Keepers” who support our animal residents through donations, adoptions, sponsorships, memberships, visits, advocacy, and spreading education and awareness.

Keep on “keeping it real!”    

The Real Lion King

Lions at TCWR

July 18, 2019

As Disney releases The Lion King on Friday, July 19th, we are shining a spotlight our lions that call Turpentine Creek a forever home. Throughout the week our 5 lions will be celebrated and have a day dedicated to them, consisting of educational programs about the species along with enrichment toy making for all of the lions in their forever home.

Across the United States and around the world lions are being kept as pets, used in roadside zoos, entertainment such as movies and circuses, and carelessly bred at cub petting facilities. Lions are the only social cat species, living in groups called prides. They have strict social structures and hierarchies consisting of a dominant male who watches over his females. Males protect their territory, while females provide all of the cub care and do most of the hunting.

By being forcefully kept in captivity, they are not able to live a natural lifestyle they deserve. Victims of the pet trade are forced to live alone, confined to small spaces, and suffer abuse and neglect due to lack of laws and regulations protecting them. The lions rescued at TCWR require extensive psychological and physical rehabilitation. They can never be released back into the wild, because they are born and bred in the United States for profit, have never been taught how to hunt, and would not survive without humans caring for them.

TCWR’s lion pair Daniel and Chloe were rescued in September 2016 from a shutdown pseudo-sanctuary in Colorado. Daniel had a severe injury to his eye and had to be amputated upon arrival, as well as a tumor on his tail removed. They were kept in small enclosures, walking on ground-up pallet boards with nails in them, had filthy living areas, and were extremely frightened of people. Now in their forever home at TCWR, they have come into their own and can be seen lounging comfortably on their bench and caroling throughout the night with our other lions Tsavo, Willy, and Savanna.

To help lions in captivity, only visit accredited zoos and sanctuaries that provide the quality of life captive animals deserve. Avoid any place that uses big cats for entertainment as well as places that let you hold baby cubs. By passing stricter laws such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act HR 1380 and the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act HR 2863, we can prevent exotic animals from suffering in the United States, and shift focus to protecting their wild counterparts.

Since the release of the original Lion King in 1994 half of the lions in the wild have disappeared. With their numbers down to 20,000, they are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. They have lost 90% of their historic range due to habitat loss and human population growth. Their main threats consist of human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching, human encroachment, trophy hunting, and illegal poaching. With your help, we can speak out for lions in the wild and also in captivity. We hope to see you this week to celebrate our lions!

Water Is Essential

To Fulfill Our Mission

July 9, 2019

Water is one of the most essential elements to our existence. Everyone knows the old survival axiom, “Three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food.” W.H. Auden once highlighted the necessity of accessible H20 by stating, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water…” and Leonardo da Vinci called it the “driving force of all nature.” We would say that, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of how vital water is to survival, but the fact is, even our rock-dwelling friends rely on this life-sustaining substance.

At the Refuge, where around 100 animals are housed at any given time, the topic of water remains pretty centralized in our day-to-day doings. (In case the entire first paragraph failed to give that away.) Habitats are cleaned daily, water dishes are cleaned and filled three times a day, and in the summer, pools are continuously being rinsed and refilled since many tigers take a multi-purpose approach of using them for both toilet time and playtime. The strain of distributing our water amongst our animal residents, the multitude of guests, and the team members who live on-site is part of why we have the dire need to update our well and water system.

After a hot summer morning of cleansing habitats, scrubbing food and water trays, as guests in our lodging suites shower, and as visitors use the restroom and rinse their hands before their tour, our water pressure is fairly dismal when it’s finally time to fill pools. Not only is this valuable time our animal care team could be devoted elsewhere, but it also hinders the amount of time our animal residents can enjoy their cooling enrichment. Our updated water system will allow for quicker filling in the summer and for the expedited sterilization of feeding utensils all year long.

An expanded hydration network also allows for the overall expansion of our property, which means we can construct more habitats for survivors of the Exotic Pet Trade. With anywhere from 7,000-10,000 tigers living in the U.S. and only 850 sheltered by accredited zoos and sanctuaries, there are thousands upon thousands suffering this very moment- and that’s just tigers! Lions, bears, cougars, bobcats, feline hybrids- the list of animals in desperate need of refuge continues. Our passion extends not only to our current animal residents, but also the future ones who are waiting to be touched by our mission.

Additionally, the expansion opens doors for widespread outreach. As you know, the new well and water system is the first step in the creation of our Visitor Education Center because it allows us to be flooded with more and more guests. Every dollar someone spends at our true sanctuary is a dollar that does not go to a circus, “scam-suary,” or roadside zoo. Every second someone spends observing our educational displays could be the very second that prompts them to take action against the Exotic Pet Trade. By drawing more visitors to an ethical tourism establishment, we are building a team of advocates (like you!) who will eventually wash away the Trade and the violent physical and emotional abuse animals experience at its hands.

Da Vinci was correct when he said water is the driving force of nature. What he didn’t mention is that you are the driving force of change. Our mission, your support, the creation of our new well and water system are all drops in the ocean that will end Exotic Pet Trade, and we are ready to make waves. We’ve raised over $30,000 towards our $150,000 goal. Your donation will help us continue our mission, and with a $40,000 matching donation up for grabs, your contribution to this project will go twice as far! Will you join us? Donate now at

Independence Day

Prince and Tony Rediscover Their Freedom

July 2, 2019

Independence and freedom are never in short supply at the Refuge. Here, animals rescued from a variety of undesirable situations are given a chance to regain their life or experience it as they never have before. If you take a stroll through our sanctuary you may hear the carol of lions, the splash of bears sloshing in their pools, and the “thud” of rowdy tigers taking their enrichment barrels to the ground; to us, this is the sound of freedom ringing!

It’s always exciting when an animal resident claims their first taste of liberation from the confines of whatever small space their previous owners forced them into. Bobcat brothers, Prince and Tony, were captured from the wild as kittens. They were kept as pets for the first few months of their short lives. Most of their time was spent in small crates with the occasional moment of leisure in a dog run outside the people’s home.

Last week, Prince and Tony were finally released into their outdoor habitat after spending the first few weeks of their time at the Refuge regaining their health in our veterinary hospital. The moment their paws touched the grass, it was as if they knew they were given a second chance. Though they remained aloof, as bobcats do, the pair bravely explored their new space with enthusiasm and curiosity. With each passing day, the bobcat brothers grow more and more dauntless, proudly claiming their domain as their own.

We hope you can celebrate the Fourth of July holiday by visiting Prince and Tony in their new habitat and wishing them a happy “independence day!” We are open our regular hours of 9 AM – 6 PM.

On behalf of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, we want to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July and thank all the military men and women who have served and are currently serving our country. We are happy to offer you 50% off admission year-round!