Monthly Archives: November 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

From Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

November 28, 2019

Today is a day of reflection and celebration here at the Refuge. Today, we look back to all the wonderful things that our supporters have helped us accomplish since opening in 1992. We wanted to say a BIG roaring THANK YOU to both our old supporters, who have helped us create such a wonderful environment for our big cats to and bear to call home, and our brand new supporters who are eager to help us create a better future for big cats across the nation. Without your help, we couldn’t have built 60 large natural habitats, rescued hundreds of animals, or built our Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital. Without your continued support, we couldn’t have expanded our education program, started an advocacy program, or touched the lives of THOUSANDS of visitors every year! We are grateful for YOUR help in changing the world for big cats.

We are also grateful to all the people who cannot donate money, but donate time, resources, or just spend a few moments to help us spread the word and educate others about the plight of big cats; your help is crucial to ending the Big Cat Trade in the US. You are making a difference every time you talk to someone about Turpentine Creek and what you’ve learned through us.

And finally, we are grateful to all our team members and interns, both past and present. They work daily to ensure that the animals that call our Refuge home have everything they need to thrive here. Every team member is vital to our mission: animal care, office, education, lodging, maintenance, gift shop, and everyone in between. It takes all of us to make sure that the Refuge is running properly, the animals are cared for, and that we have the funds to care for these animals.

As you spend today with your friends and family celebrating this day of thanks please keep in mind that it is only through your generous donations that we are able to provide such amazing lives for the animals in our care. Please keep us in mind during Giving Tuesday (THIS Tuesday on December 3rd). On that day of international giving, we are asking our supporters to rally behind us and raise $40,000 to provide the best lives possible for our animal residents.

Mark your calendars and join us all day on our social media channels as we fundraise. We will be offering milestone prize giveaways (at $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, $25,000, $30,000, $35,000 & $40,000) to celebrate your contributions to our cause. It will be a fun and eventful day where we can all gather together and celebrate the amazing accomplishments that you have helped us make.

Every little bit helps! $5, $10, $100, or more! If you are an early riser, you can even try to double your donation by donating through Facebook at 8am EST (7am CST, 6am MST, 5am PST). Facebook will be offering up a $7m matching donation while it lasts. Last year it went in SECONDS, so you have to be ready to donate through Facebook at exactly 8 am EST December 3rd to possibly qualify.

Please join us on Facebook, even if you cannot donate on Giving Tuesday. Liking, sharing, or commenting on our social media posts will help us reach a larger audience as well as give you the chance to win one of the amazing giveaways that we will be offering that day. We hope to see you there!

Click Here To Donate Early For Giving Tuesday

Emergency Surgery

Ringo Faces Life-Threatening Blockage

November 19, 2019

We are less than two weeks away from Giving Tuesday! On December 3, 2019, we are asking you to #GiveFocus and #GiveFuture to big cats by helping us reach our $40,000 goal. We will spend the day highlighting what your support can do while celebrating YOU with fun giveaways.

The first portion of our $40,000 goal has been allocated to restocking our veterinary supplies after Ringo, a 16-year-old tiger, underwent emergency surgery to remove a would-be fatal blockage from his intestines. Not only did we quickly go through our stock of supplies during the complicated 6-hour surgery, but we realized we needed a few pieces of equipment that would have made the operation much smoother. The first $3,000 donated on Giving Tuesday will #GiveFuture to Ringo and other animal residents facing emergency situations #RallyforRingo.

This past weekend, animal care team members noticed that Ringo was acting strangely. On Monday, the team and staff Veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweely, sedated Ringo to x-ray his abdomen. They saw a strange shadow in the region of his stomach, at this point they knew Ringo would need surgery immediately. Severe blockages can quickly lead to issues that can result in an animal’s death. Dr. Kellyn and the team worked quickly.

During the six-hour surgery, we used up a large portion of our medical supplies, completely exhausting many medications, sutures, fluids, disposable medical equipment, and other various supplies. We even had to get some additional medications and equipment from local veterinarians.  Luckily, Dr. Kellyn was able to remove the blockage, although this required a 20-inch incision which will take Ringo a while to recover from. It is only because of YOUR dedication and support that we were able to perform this life-saving surgery on site! Your previous support to help us build our Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital and past donations to purchase vital medical equipment over the years made this surgery possible! With your help, we will use the first $3,000 of our Giving Tuesday fundraiser to replenish our supplies and even buy a few pieces of medical equipment that we discovered during the surgery could greatly assist us if this situation were to arise again.

The rest of our goal will be used to lay the foundation for our 2020 Vision: Your Focus. Their Future. We plan for 2020 to be the hallmark year that serves as the catalyst for ending the Big Cat Trade in our lifetimes. That means we will be upping our education and advocacy game, taking our standards of care to the next level, and preparing for a future where all big cats have found sanctuary. From the small steps of controlling the futures of animals who have found safety and peace at the Refuge to the bigger dreams of touching the lives of those who have yet to be rescued, we are going to focus on the future of all big cats!

One of the best ways to help is by holding off on donating until 8 AM EST and making your donation through Facebook, if possible. Facebook will be matching dollar for dollar all donations made at 8 AM on the dot for up to $100,000 per nonprofit. We missed out on this opportunity last year because the money was GONE very quickly, within SECONDS, but this year, we hope to rally our supporters ahead of time to set their alarms and make their donations at 8 AM EST Tuesday, December 3, 2019 (not a moment before or after).  This is a pawesome opportunity for everyone! Thanks to Facebook, your $1 donation becomes $2, your $20 becomes $40, and so forth! Please give directly at this link on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 8 AM EST so we can qualify for the match. (Did we mention it needs to be right at 8 AM EST on Tuesday, December 3, 2019?)

Giving days, such as Giving Tuesday, involve so much asking and you wonderful supporters cheering us on as we strive to reach our goal, that we do our best to show our gratitude to you! That’s why we are giving away the following items as we reach our Giving Tuesday milestones:

Once we raise $5,000, we will give away a Family Fun Pack consisting of four general admission tickets, at TCWR calendar, sticker, and newsletter plus a reloadable Big Cat Bucks Gift Card.

At the $10,000, one lucky winner will earn a photo of their favorite animal resident plus a magnet!

When $15,000 is raised, someone will have the opportunity to be taken behind-the-scenes with an exclusive Coffee with the Curator tour!

There will be lots of celebration at the halfway point of $20,000 when we give away a paw painting plus a DVD of the animals creating it! We will also give away a second paw painting at $25,000.

At $30,000, one lucky person will get a free Big Cat Call-Out! This means we will create enrichment with a custom message and give it to an animal resident and film it. You and the receiver of this gift also get complimentary access to the Refuge to see the call-out in real-time. This makes a wonderful gift and has been used to send birthday wishes, holiday greetings, even proposals!

We’ll only be $5,000 away from our goal when we raise $35,000, so you certainly deserve a special reward! One lucky winner can have a purrsonal Facetime/video chat with Emily McCormack and  their favorite TCWR animal resident.

The biggest prize of all will be given away once we hit our goal of $40,000! We will give away a Two-Day Weekday Get-Away for two to Eureka Springs! You will get complimentary lodging at the Refuge for two weeknights, a couples massage at New Moon Spa, an escape room package for 2 at Escape Room 13, dinner for 2 at Nyx, and a $25 gift certificate for Mid Street Café.

For more information about Giving Tuesday on December 3, 2019, please visit

Serval Survivor

TCWR’s Newest Rescue – Hunter Update

November 12, 2019

Turpentine Creek’s newest resident Hunter, a five-year-old male serval, is settling into his new home here at the Refuge. This lucky exotic cat escaped and survived in the wild not once, but twice, despite being declawed. In 2016, Hunter and a female serval escaped from their owner’s home in New Mexico, only Hunter survived that adventure. Since owning servals is illegal in New Mexico his owner was told to either relocate or give Hunter up, his owner told authorities that he would move.

This year, a serval was captured yet again in New Mexico and through microchip identification they found out that Hunter had never left the state and had went on another survival adventure. His owner claims that he escaped on moving day in 2016. Despite the alleged 3 years in the wild, Hunter was in relatively good shape upon rescue.

After his capture, Hunter spent a few weeks at the Albuquerque BioPark (ABQ) before being transported to his forever home with us. For the first few weeks, he was in quarantine in our Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital, where our staff Veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweely, and animal care team members could keep a close eye on him. During this time, we also had to move some of our animals around to make room for him. Servals are native to Africa and require heated spaces since Arkansas winters can be harsh.

Rescuing Hunter gave us the opportunity to move some of our senior small animal residents, Sadie and Dillian, to Rescue Ridge, where they could ‘retire’ to a life out of the public eye. Tony and Prince were then moved to their old habitat so that they could enjoy having a fellow bobcat as a neighbor. Elvis is very curious about the two young bobcats that are now sharing a habitat wall with him.

Hunter is now enjoying having a whole habitat to himself with a large heated building he can explore. Servals do well in groups or alone and since the other serval habitat already has six cats, five of which are male, it was decided that Hunter would be happier having his own space.

So far, Hunter is enjoying his new home. He spends his days curled up under his rock shelter, climbing benches, and hissing at anyone who he thinks is too close. He hasn’t grown to trust the team… unless food is involved, then he is very willing to come close, nab his snack, and hiss his displeasure. We know that with time, patience, and care, Hunter will learn to trust at least some of the team members and fully settle into life at Turpentine Creek.

Your donations, support, advocacy, and social sharing are what allow us to continue rescuing animals in need. We want to thank you for your dedication and encourage you to help this year during our 2020 Vision: Your Focus. Their Future. Without your help, we cannot make a difference in the lives of big cats across the US.

Please take a moment to decide how you can help.

  • Can you dedicate 5 minutes a week to talking to a stranger about the plight of big cats in captivity?
  • Can you make a promise to share at least 3 posts from Turpentine Creek’s social media accounts each week to help spread the word?
  • Can you start a Facebook fundraiser on your birthday and encourage your friends and family to donate?
  • Can you reach out to your representatives and ask them to support stricter laws on private ownership?
  • Can you crochet blankets and sell them with a portion of the proceeds coming to Turpentine Creek?
  • Can you paint a picture and donate part of those proceeds to the animals?
  • Can you challenge your friends to learn more about the exotic pet trade and open discussions on why it is a bad thing?
  • Can you make a promise to use less palm oil products (or only certified sustainable palm oil)?
  • Can you give up 1 cup of coffee a week to donate that $5 to the Refuge? (That totals $260 over a year!!!)
  • Can you create a poster about the Big Cat Public Safety Act and hang it at your local grocery store?
  • Can you sign up for Amazon Smile and register TCWR as your chosen nonprofit?

There are so many ways to help and we are asking you to take the first step towards a better future for big cats in 2020. Your pledge to join our 2020 Vision will allow us to give animals, like Hunter, a forever home. Get started on our 2020 Vision early on December 3, 2019 for #GivingTuesday and help us, help them.

The Retired Life

Dillian and Sadie Bobcat Move To Rescue Ridge

November 6, 2019

Senior bobcats, Dillian and Sadie, are now enjoying their “retirement!” These beautiful bobcats will be spending their days relaxing in their new, spacious, habitat in the peace of Rescue Ridge. A warm den, lower benches, and of course, new sights, scents, and smells greeted the pair on Tuesday after they were relocated from our Discovery Area to the Rescue Ridge space.

Sadie, who turned eighteen this past May, was the first to go out and explore. Dillian, on the other hand, was a bit stubborn and had to be sedated for the move. We used the opportunity to give the fifteen-year-old bobcat a full exam. Bloodwork showed that Dillian was a little anemic and displayed early signs of kidney disease, but our veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweely, is confident that he is in overall good shape and will be able to enjoy his new home at Rescue Ridge for many years to come.

Dillian enjoying his new habitat at Rescue Ridge

Dillian enjoying his new habitat at Rescue Ridge.

Although Rescue Ridge started out as an extra space for rescues, it has since turned into a retirement area for our older animals. The flatter ground makes it easier for aging animals with achy joints to stroll though their habitats and is more removed from the hustle and bustle up top.

Dillian and Sadie were moved mostly to give them some peace and make room for new animal residents, Hunter the African Serval and bobcats Tony, and Prince. These felines are younger and in need of a change of space.

Because Hunter is an African Serval, he requires a heated building. Our new serval habitat is already full, with six small cats living there, so our only other option was the old serval habitat, which Tony and Prince were occupying.

Tony is all smiles in his new habitat.

Tony is all smiles in his new habitat.

It was decided to move Tony and Prince to Dillian and Sadie’s habitat. As we mentioned, this works out well because Sadie and Dillian’s ages make them perfect residents for life at Rescue Ridge.

With so many animals who have so many varying needs, we are consistently evaluating everything from food to habitats to ensure we are giving them the best care they require day in and day out. We know our visitors miss seeing the animals that are moved to Rescue Ridge, but we are grateful for their understanding of our obligation to make decisions with our animal residents’ wellbeing at the forefront of our minds. In order to limit foot-traffic at Rescue Ridge but still give visitors the chance to visit their favorite older animal residents, we do offer exclusive tours that take you there and behind-the-scenes to learn even more about Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and our work. Visit our website for more information about our exclusive tours and to book one today!