Monthly Archives: May 2020

The Source Of All White Tigers

The Day That It All Started

May 27, 2020

Turpentine Creek is home to 45 tigers, 18 of which are white. These beautiful animals have all been rescued from backyard breeders or pseudo-sanctuaries that exist for the sole purpose of using them to make a profit.

White tigers today do not exist in the wild; they can only be found in captivity. The same could not be said 70 years ago, when white tigers could be found sporadically in India. On this day in 1951, the Maharaja of Rewa joined a hunting expedition in the jungles of India with the hopes of successfully finding and killing tigers. During the expedition, a two-year-old white tiger was captured after his mother and siblings, who were orange, were slain by the hunters. After the killings, this juvenile cat fled into a cave for protection. Fascinated by the white tiger, the hunters followed him, built a cage at the entrance of the cave, and forced him out with smoke. Once trapped, he was transported back to a spare palace of the Maharaja, where he was given the name Mohan. At the palace he was housed with access to a private sleeping area and a courtyard. Not long after the tiger’s arrival, the Maharaja ran an ad in the New York Times trying to sell him. No buyer wanted to pay what was being asked, an estimated $28,000, and the young cub remained at the palace in Rewa until his passing in 1970.

The Maharaja was fascinated by Mohan, and therefore wanted to create more white tigers. His original attempt to do so had him breeding Mohan to an orange tigress, Begum, who was brought to the palace. First, Begum was introduced to Mohan which produced ten orange-colored cubs. Mohan was then bred with one of his daughters, as the Maharaja was desperate to create white cubs. This inbreeding resulted in four white babies, the first white tigers to be born in captivity. These four were then sold to buyers around the world. These buyers were the National Zoological Park in Washington D.C., Delhi Zoological Park in New Delhi, India, and the Kolkata Zoological Park in Kolkata, India.

However, this wide distribution of those four white cubs was only the beginning. In 1970, nineteen years after Mohan was captured, the captive white tiger population increased from zero to 37; These 37 do not include the vast majority of cubs that did not live long after birth, due to the severe inbreeding and the associated health issues. In the current captive white tiger population, this trend of inbreeding is still prevalent, resulting in many genetic defects. These defects can include crossed eyes, club feet, cleft palates, organ deformities, and spinal deformities, among other issues.

While these animals may be beautiful, they do not occur naturally and therefore do not serve a purpose for conservation. Species survival plans, created by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), do not selectively breed, or inbreed, for specific recessive genes in order to avoid anomalous internal and external conditions of the offspring. This differs from their mission of positively affecting the conservation of the wildlife in their breeding programs. TCWR is not an AZA accredited facility, and therefore does not participate in the breeding of our animals. We are strictly a forever home for them and do not support the inbreeding of white tigers.

69 years ago, a white tiger cub was captured and bred for entertainment purposes. Today these white tigers are still being bred solely for that same purpose. Every single white tiger that exists in the world today, can be traced back to Mohan, the tiger that started it all.

The Bear Necessities Of Life

Black Bears Vs Brown Bears

May 13, 2020

Recently, as our bears have become more active and are featured more on our social media stream, we’ve been getting questions about the difference between black bears, like Koda G and Xena, and brown bears, like Huggy and Bam Bam. With 10 bears calling our Refuge home, we thought now would be a great time to help our supporters distinguish between these non-feline residents of Turpentine Creek.

There are eight species of bear across the world, but only the brown and black bear can be found in North America. Turpentine Creek is currently home to 10 bears who cannot be released into the wild: 2 brown bears and 8 black bears. When they are side-by-side, like roommates Thunder and Harley, they might look like two different species of bears, just because of their fur colors. But, they are actually both black bears.

SO, HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE? 

Your first thought may have been to determine the species based on their color, but not all black bears are black in coloration. They can range from black to gray to cinnamon to white depending on the location! This means for brown bears and black bears who are brown in color, it makes it little harder to tell which species the bear is if they are living in the same area. But do not worry, there are many other characteristics to help you distinguish between the two!

Brown bears, like Turpentine Creek residents Bam Bam and Huggy, have very distinctive traits aiding in the identification of the species.

  • They have a large shoulder hump made of muscle to help make them powerful diggers.
  • Their claws are thick, long, and slightly curved.
  • Ears are short and round.
  • Their face is dish shaped
  • When looking at the bear from the side, their rear end is lower than their shoulders. 
  • They are larger than black bears, standing 3 to 5 feet at the shoulder when on all fours.

If you have seen Turpentine Creek’s resident black bears, you may notice that they look a little different than the brown bears. Black bears also have distinct characteristics for their species.

  • Black bears have no shoulder hump, they are level or flat with the rest of their back.
  • Their claws are short and curved.
  • Ears are tall and oval shaped. 
  • Their face is straight from between the eyes to the tip of the muzzle. 
  • If you were to look at a black bear from the side, their rear end is higher than their shoulders. 
  • They can stand 2 to 3.5 feet tall at the shoulders when on all fours. 

The National Park Service has an interactive image to see these characteristics side by side.

Although Tyson Foods donates a lot of meat for our animals, our bears are omnivores, meaning that much of their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and grains. We have to purchase the food to feed our bears even during our closure. Could you help us feed our bears by setting up a recurring donation of $10 or $25?

Your Support Saves Lives

28th Anniversary Celebration Fundraiser A Success

May 6, 2020

On Tuesday, May 5, the supporters of Turpentine Creek came together to celebrate our 28th anniversary. Due to our temporarily closure due to COVID-19 the celebration was moved online, but it was still a wonderful day of like-minded animal lovers getting together to support our Refuge.

Although our official anniversary was May 1, we decided to host our celebration on May 5 due to the pop-up national fundraising day #GivingTuesdayNow – a national day of giving to help support nonprofits during COVID-19. Throughout the day we featured live video, enrichment, games, memory posts, and of course a fun, engaging environment for our supporters to show their support of our mission.

Without your support and donations we could not do what we do daily, nor could we save the lives of survivors of the big cat trade.

Initially, we had set a goal to raise $28,000, but some of our supporters stepped up and offered various matching donation that equaled $23,450! Because of this, we changed our goal to $42,000 the day before our event! Our supporters rallied behind us to not only meet that goal but also surpass it! In total, we raised $50,598 in a single day of giving!

We offered 63 items on our online auction, most of which were items made by our animals such as paw paintings, boomer ball key chains, and spool flowerpots. These unique items were very popular and overall our auction raised $10,637, which is over 20% of our total raised throughout the day!

These donations are a much-needed boost to our finances. With our temporary closure, our income has dropped over 35%. We luckily had some money set back incase of emergencies but that amount is quickly being depleted. We have reduced our expenses to help manage costs but are still running at a deficit.

It costs approximately $140,000 – $150,000 per month to just maintain our most basic expenses such as salaries, utility bills, and buy basic supplies. Luckily, Tyson has donated enough meat for us to provide our basic big cat diets, but we still have to purchase produce for the bears and meat for our animals on special diets. We are also paying for medicine for our animals and the supplements that go on the food.

Thank you to everyone who has been supporting us over the last 28 years. You have helped us with our mission, saved lives, and are helping us create a better future for big cats in need. Hopefully, in the near future laws will be passed and facilities, like ours, will no longer be necessary.

We still need your help, please consider setting up a recurring monthly donation to help us get through our COVID temporary closure at www.tcwr.org/donate