Monthly Archives: June 2020

Building A Better Foundation

Protecting The Future Of The Animals At TCWR

June 24, 2020

Turpentine Creek loves and appreciates all of our donors; you are amazing people who help us to care for these animals every single day! Yet, the global pandemic COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of recurring donors to our animals’ and Refuge’s future. Recurring donations give us a gift beyond just financial sustainability and stability; they give us peace of mind and hope when things can be a bit unsteady in our world.

When we had to temporarily close our doors to the public to protect our animals and team members, we quickly realized that our current income source was unstable. During the spring and summer, we rely heavily on lodging and admissions to cover our costs and in the winter time our donors step up, donating approximately half of our annual income. This has always helped to cover our expenses year-round, but this year, COVID-19 hit right as we were gearing up for our spring and summer visitors.

We were lucky; we have been planning for emergencies for years, tucking away extra money here and there to build a small emergency fund. It is due to this pre-planning, and the fact that our amazing supporters came together in a big way to donate during our time of need, that we were able to make it through the closure and find a safe way to reopen to the public. Now, that emergency fund has been greatly depleted and COVID-19 has not gone away. Although we do not know what the future holds with COVID-19, there is a lot of evidence that a resurgence is coming, and we need to be prepared for that possibility.

While we were closed we reduced all costs to a minimum, going to essential employees, reducing spending, stopping new projects, etc. and found out that it would cost about $140,000 a month to run the Refuge when we are closed to the public and on a reduced staff; that number increases when we are open to the public even on a limited capacity. Normally, operating at full capacity it is about $200,000 – $225,000 a month.

With this in mind, we began to look at ways to protect our animals if another emergency were to happen, or COVID-19 creates a situation where we are forced to temporarily close again. The solution is to create a steady, reliable, income source that does not fluctuate based on the season or visitor count: monthly recurring donations.

Monthly recurring donations creates a steady foundation to fall back on, to be reassured that in rain, shine, sleet, hail, or global pandemic we can continue to provide quality care for our animal residents. These donations allow us to plan ahead, purchase food when needed, rescue animals, and continue advocating for their future- all things that cannot be paused even when it seems as though the world has.

Currently, we receive a little over $10,000 a month in recurring donations. We have set a goal to add 200 new recurring donors between now and September 1. Can you help us reach this goal?

Setting up a monthly donation of $5, $10, or $25 (less than the cost of most streaming services!) will protect the animals at Turpentine Creek.

Monthly recurring donations are just small automatic debits that add up to a lot of money for the animals! 

  • $5 a month = $60 a year
  • $10 a month = $120 a year
  • $25 a month = $300 a year
  • $50 a month = $600 a year

Your ‘bite sized’ monthly donations go a long way over an entire year! 

Now, more than ever, please help us give our animal residents a stable and sustainable future. Click here to set your monthly recurring donation up today!

Sunshine, Summertime, Sanctuary, And Social Distancing

Helping The Refuge Amid A Pandemic

June 17, 2020

Turpentine Creek has been reopen to the public for two weeks. We have had to make many changes on how we lead our tours and how we interact with our visitors due to COVID-19. This has been a learning process, and will continue to evolve and adjust as we encounter new challenges. 

Our education and animal care team members are still guiding our tours, offering an informative and educational experience for people of all ages. There have been some challenges; wearing a mask might not be fun but is necessary to protect the animals and their human caretakers from this dangerous virus. Tickets can be pre-booked now, which will save you a lot of time during check-in and guarantee your spot at your desired tour time. Although we do still offer walk-up tours, our tour sizes are limited. If the tour is already full you will have to wait until the next tour with available spots so we highly recommend booking ahead of time. As always, please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled tour since groups leave right at the top of every hour. 

We are entering the warmer months of our season; during this time it is vital to come prepared when visiting. Wear light clothing, sunscreen, a hat, proper shoes, and to drink plenty of water. It can get very warm in Arkansas as we get into late June, July, and August. Please make sure to check the weather before coming and be prepared for heat.  If you are feeling unwell at any time during your tour, please don’t be embarrassed to speak up. We’ve all been there, and we want to keep you safe and comfortable! 

We have begun offering tours in our brand new trams! These open-air trams allow for airflow and shade on hot days. They allow for better viewing of the animals, more seating, and a more engaging environment for our riding tours. In order to properly social distance, seats are more limited than usual so we highly recommend reserving ahead of time at tcwr.org/visit. As with regular tours, please make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before the tour time. If you wish to take a 10 AM tour, for example, the tour leaves right at 10 AM, so plan to arrive by 9:45 AM. 

Early tours are still the most ideal on hot days because as with every summer, our animal residents prefer to chill in their dens or snooze in the shade during the hottest part of the day. 

We look forward to seeing you this summer. As COVID progresses we will continue to adjust and adapt to protect the animals, our team, and our visitors. We hope to see you all soon!

Please consider helping us build a solid foundation for the Refuge; recurring donations help us have a stable source of income that protects the animals during uncertain times, like a global pandemic. Your monthly recurring donation of $5 or $10 – less than the price of a monthly TV streaming service – helps us care for all of the animals that call Turpentine Creek home. Just go to tcwr.org/donate, enter the amount you wish to give, and make sure the recurring donation is selected. 

Sanctuary Caregiver Day

Celebrating Turpentine Creek’s Animal Caregivers

June 10, 2020

This Friday, June 12, 2020, is the fourth annual Sanctuary Caregiver Day. The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance started this day of celebration to honor the unsung heroes who work tirelessly through extreme heat, storms, cold, holidays, birthdays, etc. to make sure survivors of the exotic animal trade can live out their lives in peace and comfort at their rescue forever home.

Now, more than ever, we should celebrate these essential workers, who not only work to care for the animals but also to protect them during this global pandemic.

Our animal care team not only completely isolated themselves for two months, not leaving the Refuge for any reason, they also spend every day working in the heat, wearing hot masks, maintaining habitats, feeding the animals, avoiding crowds of people, and doing their best to enforce social distancing to keep the animals safe from exposure.

Although we are now reopen to the public, we are still taking extra precautions to protect our animals. Team members are required to wear a mask when working around the animals, in their habitats, or with their food, and they are sanitizing their spaces and hands more frequently. Team members are checked daily for temperatures and symptoms of COVID.

Our team guides tours, with enforced social distancing and visitor mask requirements, so that they can help to educate the public about the plight of big cats in captivity and the big cat trade.

Seven animal care team members and fourteen animal care interns provide food, water, clean habitats, enrichment, and pools for the animals every day no matter the circumstance.

It takes a village to provide care for these animals, it takes an entire team of individuals with various jobs to help support the work the keepers are giving. Fundraisers, maintenance staff, educators, advocators, digital promotions, social media, volunteers, donors, etc. it takes the work of many people to care for these survivors of the big cat trade. We are grateful to every one of the people who are caring for the animals from the ‘boots on the ground’ animal keepers to the people answering emails. Every person makes a difference in the lives of these animals.

We ask you to join us in celebrating our animal caretakers on Friday, show your support and appreciation for all that they do. We will be promoting our animal caretakers throughout Friday, featuring our keepers and showing our appreciation. Please join us on this day of celebration.

Help show your appreciation for our caretakers by setting up a recurring donation. By donating on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, you help us be sustainable and plan for the future. With recurring donations, we have a reliable base of income that we can count on when the unexpected happens, like COVID. Please help create a better future for the big cats that call our Refuge home.

*Photos taken prior to reopen when team members were in isolation and were not required to wear masks. 

Turpentine Creek Reopen To The Public

Sunshine, Stripes, and Safety

June 3, 2020

For the first time in two months, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has welcomed visitors onto our property. On June 1, 2020, the Refuge reopened to the public with some limitations and restrictions in place to protect our animals, team members, and visitors from the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporarily, things will look very different around the Refuge. 

Turpentine Creek has used the two months of closure to make some changes, improvements, and temporary adjustments to protect our animals. Temporary gates and a temperature-checking station at the entrance have been set up to encourage social distancing and protect our team members. Everyone ages 3 and up are required to wear a mask. If guests do not have their own, we can provide them.

Tours are being operated at a limited capacity, but it does have some perks! We are capping tours at 60 participants each, broken up into groups of 10 and limiting tour times to 10 AM, 12 PM, and 2 PM. While walk-ins will be welcome, the only way to be certain you can go on our desired tour is to reserve ahead of time at tcwr.org/visit

Because we do not have a safe way to conduct riding tours, guests will not have the option to ride our tram or take a speciality in-person tour at this time. We hope soon being in close-quarters will not pose as much of a risk as it does now. For the time being, those wishing to take a speciality tour can do so from the comfort of their own home with private virtual tours. 

We have reopened our lodging accommodations as well for overnight stays at the Refuge. Masks must be worn when guests are outside their rooms within the vicinity of our animal residents. We are following Arkansas State Health Department Guidelines for the hospitality industry, meaning we have raised our cleaning and sanitizing procedures, which is requiring a 24-hour gap between check-outs and check-ins. This means lodging dates are more limited than usual, but you can expect a safe, clean environment when you visit. You can view our rooms, pricing, and make a reservation here.

We are very thankful to our donors who stepped up and helped us get through the last two months. Without your support, we would not have been able to spend this time working to protect our animal residents and team members from COVID exposure. The decision to close was easy to make, since we are here to protect the animals, but it did leave us with some challenges for financial stability. Because we are at a limited capacity for the numbers of guests we can host daily, your donations continue to be vital to our animal residents. Please visit tcwr.org/donate to see how you can provide support; you can also “visit” the Refuge from the comfort of your own home by taking a private virtual tour or send a message to a loved one through our Big Cat Call-Out program.  

Thank you to everyone who has been so gracious regarding our temporary regulations. We appreciate your commitment to the health and well-being of our animal residents and look forward to seeing you on your next “Africa in the Ozarks” adventure. 

For more information on our guidelines, or to purchase tickets, click here