Monthly Archives: January 2020

Saving Lives With Help From Our Friends

Rescuing Luna and Remington Took Teamwork

January 28, 2019

The magnitude of the Big Cat Trade can seem overwhelming at times. With the Trade’s network reaching corners that likely aren’t even on anyone’s radar yet and the vast number of “scam-suaries,” pay-to-play schemes, circuses, and roadside zoos outweighing the number of true sanctuaries and ethical organizations, we need all the help we can get in the fight for the future of big cats. Thankfully, these animals don’t have to rely on a single person or entity to be saved. They have supporters from all over the world banding together to stop the abuse, neglect, and exploitation they face. In the rescue of Luna and Remington, we were reminded that no matter how relentless the battle may seem, we do not have to go it alone.

Luna and Remington are two white tigers who have been waiting to come home to Turpentine Creek since 2016. Their road to freedom began with People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filing a lawsuit against Dade City Wild Things (DCWT) alleging the pay-to-play business violated the Endangered Species Act by warehousing tigers in small cages and prematurely separating cubs from their mothers. Dade City was known for its popular, “swim-with-the-tigers” attraction, which forced cubs to spend hours swimming with people past the point of exhaustion, chlorination stinging their sensitive eyes. Meanwhile, DCWT earned a nice profit.

DCWT illegally relocated the tigers to another shady operation in 2017 to avoid PETA’s court-ordered inspection of their facility, resulting in the deaths of 5 tigers, two of which named Rory and Raja, were supposed to be rescued by TCWR. The three other tigers that died were cubs who overheated at birth during transport as DCWT smuggled them to Oklahoma in an inadequately ventilated trailer. DCWT’s entire history with tigers was despicable, and as the court battle droned on and on, we sat waiting to be given the clear to swoop in and bring Luna and Remington home.

Since we do not have the legal authority to confiscate animals, another organization must make the first move. As we sat with our hands tied, PETA was battling it out in the courts with DCWT. Finally, in January of this year, we were able to make the drive to Florida to pick up our newest animal residents.

We knew to make the out-of-state trip would cost money and staff; not only was the drive long, but it was going to take multiple pairs of hands to safely execute the rescue. With a relatively small team taking care of our 90 plus animals back at the Refuge, being short even by a small amount of staff is sorely felt. Thankfully, we have a network of trusted wildlife warriors to reach out to in times of need. PETA covered the cost of transporting Luna and Remington from Florida (which also means all funds raised in their honor can go directly to their lifetime care) and through the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, we were able to connect with Forest Animal Rescue (FAR) in Florida, whose team members and volunteers selflessly offered their time at no cost to us in order to smoothly move Luna and Remington from their small cages at the rescue site to the transport trailer.

We have worked with our friends at FAR in the past. During the Colorado Rescue of 2016, which is a prime example of an undertaking that required teamwork from across the country, a portion of the 115 animals who were squeezed into the 12 acres of the pseudo-sanctuary/cub-petting operation found their forever homes with FAR. In fact, the Colorado Project, which required multiple reputable sanctuaries to come together in order to facilitate the largest exotic animal rescue in U.S. history, spurred the creation of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance. Members of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance have come through for one another, multiple times since then to rescue animals and are continuously working together behind-the-scenes, making plans for the betterment of the future of big cats.

We were actually able to stop by and say “hello,” to yet another member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, Big Cat Rescue (BCR). This organization also gave sanctuary to animals from the Colorado Rescue. In fact, we had the pleasure of seeing Priya the tiger, the mother of TCWR animal residents, Poncho and Montana, on our visit. With the horrors that meet our eyes when we are away from TCWR, our place of peace, during rescues, it’s refreshing to take a moment to visit facilities like BCR and FAR to revel in the wonderful work they are doing and exceptional care they are providing to survivors of the Big Cat Trade. It’s a positive reminder that TCWR is not in this fight alone.

Luna and Remington lost no time in discovering the joys of a large grass habitat at the Refuge. They are assaulting team members with an endless flood of “chuffs” and cheerful groans. Professionally-speaking, both are acting like complete goofballs: they roll on their backs and get distracted by a leaf-covered limb which spurs them to gnaw on it before realizing it tastes weird then getting distracted by the barrel lying across their habitat, the perfect unsuspecting prey, but on their way to take it down for the kill, they get distracted by a log and go to dig their claws in but halfway through that task, something else catches their eye and so on… It is hilarious and heartwarming because, for the first time, they are allowed to create their own schedule and choose what to do next and, well, they want to do everything! It’s as if they are reliving the cubhood they never got to have.

We want to thank PETA and FAR for working with us to give Remington and Luna the life they deserve. We also want to remind everyone to choose #EthicalTourism. FAR and BCR are the direct opposite of organizations like DCWT. You can find information on them and other BCSA-approved refuges at https://www.bigcatalliance.org/our-members/. Perhaps make it your goal to visit each one that is open to the public! 

Now we turn to you, our dear friends. Please help us feed our two new hungry mouths and provide all the toys they can get their child-like paws on. You can make a donation directly at tcwr.org/donate or be the first to adopt and sponsor Remington and Luna at tcwr.org/adoptions-sponsorship.

Springing Into 2020

Big Changes Coming This Year At TCWR

January 22, 2020

Due to popular demand, we now offer Carnivore Caravan tours every day of the week. You can book a Carnivore Caravan tour for you and up to four friends for only $100 each to get a private look at what goes on behind-the-scenes at the Refuge! Take a trip down to see your favorite animal at Rescue Ridge or visit our new bear habitats. These exclusive tours are a great way to support our mission and see parts of the Refuge that are usually off-limits to the public.

We have begun planning our annual Cats at the Castle event and tickets are now available for purchase! Space is limited so make sure to purchase yours before its too late! This year’s event will take place Saturday, April 18, at the beautiful Castle Rogue’s Manor with the theme, “Roaring Twenties.” We encourage our attendees to dress in themed outfits! It will be a fun evening of fundraising for the Refuge. Learn more and reserve your spot at TCWR.org/cats-at-the-castle.

We would like to also let our supporters know that as of March 1st , admission prices will be raising by $5 for each ticket. Pricing will be $25 for adults (ages 20+), $20 for teenagers (ages 13-19), $15 for kids (ages 4-12), Seniors (ages 65+), and military; children under 3 are still free. This raise in entry fees reflects the higher costs of caring for the animals that call our Refuge home, as well as costs to run and maintain our facility. To make sure 100% of all donations go towards the animals, we use admission, lodging, and other non-donation sources of revenue to pay non-animal related expenses. Tickets purchased through our online ticketing system before March 1st at current prices will be honored beyond the March 1st pricing change.

We look forward to what other changes and improvements will come around in 2020. Thank you for being part of our growth and supporting our 2020 Vision. Please stay tuned because we have some big announcements on rescues coming in the next week!

Big Cat Callouts

Gifts That Make A Difference

January 15, 2020

Turpentine Creek is always looking for ways to improve the lives of our animal residents and create fun ways for our supporters to help them. Over the years, we have had multiple requests for personalized enrichment to send messages. In the past, we’ve accommodated those requests as much as possible, typically presented when people come to visit. But we’ve also had requests for remote enrichment.

To fulfill these requests we came up with Big Cat Callouts, personalized enrichment given to certain animals! These fun messages are usually painted on boxes and given to animals approved for box enrichment. The non-toxic paint entices the animals and creates a fun and memorable way to send a message!

The program was tentatively created a few years ago but was fully launched this past December. So far, feedback from our supporters has been amazing! Everyone loves seeing the animals enjoy enrichment. We offer different options for the messages to be delivered: in-person, Youtube video link, or live via Facebook.

The “cost” of the Big Cat Callouts ranges from $100 to $150 depending on how the callout is delivered, but all that money is put right back into the enrichment fund!

So, not only is your callout providing enrichment for your chosen animals, but it helps fund enrichment for ALL who call the Refuge home! You can make your birthday wishes, proposals, congratulations, and so much more extra special through our Big Cat Callout program!

Does a Big Cat Callout sound like something you want to do? Head over to our new Big Cat Callout page and put in your request!

*We will do our best to accommodate your request but please be aware dates or animals might not be available. Some of our animals are on enrichment restrictions, but we will email you to confirm the Big Cat Callout request and let you know if anything needs to be changed.

Cool Cats AT TCWR

Visiting “Off” Season

January 7, 2019

Brisk winter air might not be your ideal time to play outside, but tigers are thrilled about the dropping temperatures and winter weather. Their thick fur coats help them stay warm, making them extra active during the cooler months. It might be worth it to pull out your heavy seasonal gear and stop in for a visit; this is a fun and unique time to take a tour at Turpentine Creek!

When visiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge throughout the year, you will see all of our animal residents enjoying their habitats in different ways. Each season at TCWR brings a new view of the cats and a new experience at the Refuge.

This time of year, our animal residents can be found running around their habitat and attacking their enrichment toys, laying with their stomachs up in the sunshine on a cold day, or just sitting on top of their habitat benches observing all the many activities going. All of the animals that call the Refuge home react to the chilly weather a little differently. The bears sleep a little more and eat less during the cooler months, so they tend to hang out in their night houses and dens. The African Servals will often be seen hanging out just outside their building but close enough to the door to run in and grab some heat if it gets too icy out.

Not only is it a great time to come out and see the cats during the winter season, but we also continue to offer additional educational activities for our visitors. Our educational programming will take place during the weekends throughout Winter and includes various topics about the animal species that call TCWR home, discovering how we can all be the voice for wildlife everywhere, and much more. We still offer guided tours every hour on the hour daily plan a visit, book a stay, and make sure to wear your warmest coat, gloves, and hat!

Whether you visit Turpentine Creek in the Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter, every day is a new and wonderful day to see the animals that call the Refuge home.

The 2020 Pledge

Join TCWR In Focusing Our Talents To Create A Better Future

January 1, 2020

2020 is officially here! Can you believe that we have pounced into a new decade already? The Roaring 20’s have come back around and Turpentine Creek is determined to use this time to end the Big Cat Trade in the United States.  We need your help to accomplish this goal! This year, we are inviting our supporters to join our 2020 Vision: Your Focus. Their Future. year-long campaign. We want you to utilize your talents, passions, voice, and focus to help us create a better future for all the big cats in the USA.

We are asking all of our supporters to join us in pledging that in 2020 we will make a difference! This is the year of action, change, and new beginnings! With your help, we will see the end of the Big Cat Trade! A small step and simple actions will quickly grow into a movement that will demand change by our government! We ask you to pledge to take ten simple actions in 2020 to spread awareness and make a change!

We ask all our supporters to visit https://turpentinecreek.salsalabs.org/2020visionpledge and take the pledge in 2020! We need you to focus your talents to complete ten simple steps to help us accomplish our 2020 Vision.

In 2020 I pledge to:

  1. Share at least 1 post of Turpentine Creek’s
  2. Tell at least 1 friend about why big cats make bad pets
  3. Educate at least 1 person about what a True Sanctuary is
  4. Create at least 1 social fundraiser to help raise funds to save big cats
  5. Make at least 1 post to share why I support facilities like Turpentine Creek and what they do
  6. Volunteer at least 1 hour of my time helping to raise awareness about big cats in captivity (digitally, in person, or at a facility)
  7. Find at least 1 way to utilize my own personal talents to benefit big cats in captivity
  8. Recruit at least 1 person to help the Big Cat cause
  9. Send at least 1 email to my federal government representatives to inform them about the plight of big cats in captivity
  10. Respond to at least 1 social post telling others why I support Turpentine Creek

These ten simple steps will help spread awareness and start creating change! We are excited to see just what this year will bring! Will you take the pledge to help Turpentine Creek end the Big Cat Trade?

Take The Pledge Today!