Monthly Archives: September 2020

Rescue Report – WIN

Eight Animals Saved From Cub Petting Scheme

September 30, 2020

cages and people at Wildlife In Need ready to rescue animals

Rescue team at Wildlife In Need

For months Turpentine Creek has been in a holding pattern waiting on the court case between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Wildlife In Need’s (WIN) Tim Stark to conclude. In August, when the court ruled in PETA’s favor, Turpentine Creek began preparing for a rescue we knew was to come. The court conducted research on sanctuaries around the country, including background checks, accreditations, and USDA reports to determine the best places for the animals to be placed. The federal judge decided Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was the best place for some of these animals to live out the rest of their lives.

All of these animals were exploited and used by WIN for their cub petting scheme. Many of the animals used by WIN were needlessly and cruelly declawed so that they would be ‘safer’ for the public to handle.

Chief the Lion getting fluids during rescue at Wildlife In Need

Emily and Tanya giving fluids to Chief at W.I.N.

The court found that the declawing procedures were “a gross failure to meet the accepted standards of medical care,” and that pulling young cubs from their mothers to be handled by the public “deprives cubs of vital components that help develop a healthy immune system, also subjects cubs to extreme stress.” You can read more on PETA’s website.

For weeks we waited and prepared; finally the call came in that we would be off to rescue eight big cats on Friday, September 18th. Our rescue team of six individuals packed up our two rescue trailers and set out Thursday evening so that we could get on the property first thing Friday morning.

This rescue was dangerous; only days earlier the Indianapolis Zoo had conducted their own rescue of the non-feline and small cat residents. They reported 31 animals missing that should have been there (almost $200,000 worth of animals!). Some of the animals were later found in a box truck about a mile from the facility in cages with no access to food, water, or proper ventilation of the vehicle. A warrant for Tim Stark was placed since he did not comply with court orders.

Emily McCormack from TCWR with sedated white tiger Glacier

Emily vaccinating a sedated Glacier at W.I.N.

When the rescue team arrived, they were met with a SWAT team doing a sweep of the property and multiple US Marshals who were there to guard the rescuers. It was a terrifying situation and the first time ever the US Marshals have had to assist on a rescue of this nature.

Luckily, the team was well prepared and quickly loaded the eight animals coming to our property.

The team left the WIN property at about 5pm EST and began the nearly 600-mile journey back home. They arrived safely at the Refuge early Saturday morning with our newest animal residents.

We managed to rescue four tigers and four lions. Five of the eight had to be sedated for transport but the team worked efficiently to make sure all animals were secured for transport. Initial exams of the animals show that all animals are infested with worms and have other health issues. We are conducting wellness exams on the animals currently.

We want everyone to welcome our newest residents:

Chief the lion in a large grassy habitat at his new home at TCWR

Chief enjoying his new habitat at TCWR

Chief, a thirteen-year-old male lion (DOB 10/3/06), he was dehydrated and sickly when rescued. We have taken him for a wellness exam, and he shows signs of malnutrition, a severe case of worms, and other health issues that we will need to work to correct. He lives with Mauri his mate.

Mauri, a four-year-old female lion (DOB 11/7/16), lives with Chief and after we can safely sterilize Chief will be re-introduced. Currently, they alternate days in their habitat. Once it is safe, we will either give Chief a vasectomy or spay Mauri so that they can be re-introduced and live together again.

Savanna, a six-year-old female lion (DOB 10/8/12), lives alone and is a little cautious about her new lion neighbor Tsavo.

Miles an orange tigress enjoying her large grassy habitat at TCWR

Miles enjoying her new habitat at TCWR

Miles (MeGyrl), is a seven-year-old female tiger (DOB 9/19/13), she currently lives at Rescue Ridge and is still getting used to her new home. Although it is rare, we do sometimes slightly alter names or give nicknames to animals for our records. MeGyrl is one such case, we’ve updated her name to Miles.

Hurricane, a fifteen-year-old male tiger (DOB 7/19/05), lives with his brother Avalanche on the habitat tour loop. They are quickly settling into their new home.

Avalanche, a fifteen-year-old male tiger (DOB 7/19/05), lives with his brother Hurricane on the habitat tour loop. They get along well and still cautious around visitors.

Glacier a white tiger scratching a tree in his new grassy habitat at TCWR

Glacier enjoying his new habitat at TCWR

Glacier, a thirteen-year-old male white tiger (DOB 3/19/07), was rescued with Ungowwa. We performed a wellness exam on him and neutered him so that we could re-introduce him to Ungowwa.

Ungowwa, an twelve-year-old female lion (DOB 5/10/08), who lives with Glacier. Although they lived together most of their lives, they reported that this pair never reproduced. She loves her new habitat and spends most days lazing around under the trees.

Ungowwa a female lioness in her large grassy habitat at TCWR

Ungowwa enjoying her new habitat at TCWR

We are glad that we could provide a forever home for these beautiful animals. Rescuing and caring for big cats is a lifetime commitment. Big cats in captivity can live upwards of 20 years and it costs approximately $10,000 a year to care for a single big cat. Please donate to help us care for our newest animal residents as well as our other animal residents. Your support saves lives!

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle with TCWR

Working Towards A Better World

September 16, 2020

During your next visit to Turpentine Creek, you might notice a new look in the form of our recycling and trash receptacles located throughout the refuge. We are excited to announce that Turpentine Creek received a grant from Keep America Beautiful in aiding our recycling efforts! 

TCWR has been working for years to improve our environmental impact through composting, recycling, and our food forests. With the help of Keep America Beautiful we are ramping up our efforts in environmental conservation with a more in depth recycling program. 

Through the grant we received a total of 14 containers, 10 of which are 32” round recycle only bins and 4 are source-separated square bins that also include a trash receptacle. Every week, the bins will be emptied and the recycling weighed to input the data in the Keep America Beautiful Database. 

We want to encourage visitors to help protect and conserve the environment during their visit to the refuge through our recycling program. Every year plastic generation makes up over 35 million tons in the United States alone. Nearly half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made since 2000 and sadly less than ⅕ of all plastics are recycled globally. This leads to a large number of plastics sitting in our landfills, oceans, forests, and neighborhoods. Not only creating an unsatisfying look but more importantly it is creating a life-threatening situation for wildlife. 

According to a study done by the Container Recycling Institute, in 2015 nearly a million plastic bottles were sold every minute around the globe. In the United States alone, that was equivalent to 346 bottles per person. As the global population grows, so does the creation of plastics. The bottles only make up a small portion of all plastics that are created and used every day but every small part makes a big part in helping to reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

We encourage our supporters to not only recycle the next time you visit the Refuge, but to also recycle at home. Taking a few extra steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle can help save the world. Thank you for your support in this time of need, every little bit helps. Donate now to help us save lives.

Protecting Our Residents

Dealing with Nature at our Refuge

September 9, 2020

Turpentine Creek is set on the edge of the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Our 459 acres property is filled with rolling mountains, lush forests, and plenty of native creatures that helps add to gorgeous atmosphere of our refuge. A large draw to our facility is our large, natural habitats filled with trees, grass, and plenty of space. Although this is wonderful for our animals, giving them wonderful spaces to explore every day, there are some drawbacks to being surrounded by so much nature.

The team members of Turpentine Creek spend a lot of time maintaining our habitats through mowing and weedeating. We also have to continually tick dust to protect our big cats from Bobcat fever, fleas, and other blood born illnesses, which are not only deadly to small cats but to big cats as well. It is difficult to treat big cats for ticks and fleas, so treating the grounds and habitats is the best way to protect our animals. This is time consuming and expensive, but worth it to protect our animals.

Another issue we face being surrounded by nature are smaller animals. Snakes, opossums, armadillos, spiders, and other small creatures that cannot be kept out of habitats. These animals either dig and destroy the habitat grounds or can be a threat to our animals. Recently, Koda, a sixteen year old male black bear, passed away due to complications from a rattle snake bite. We do our best to keep snakes away from our animals but there is no way to completely keep them out. These venomous snakes can be a threat to both our animal residents and our team members. We will mourn the loss of Koda, but sometimes nature wins no matter what we do to prepare.

A beautiful manicured facility is the result of our hard work, but the safety of our animals is always top priority. Luckily, as summer comes to an end, yard work takes less of our time. We still have to continue to treat for ticks and fleas but as the temperature cools off many of the other animals will go into hibernation and we will get a reprieve from them and the dangers that they pose. When visiting the Refuge please keep in mind that we do have lots of wild wildlife that also calls our grounds home. These animals are not wilder nor are they tame, keep your distance and be prepared.

With your help, we can continue to protect our animals. Your donation allows us to maintain our habitats, rescue animals, and provide quality care for our residents. We also want to remind you to check to see if your employer offers matching donations, this way your donation goes even further! Thank you for your help and dedication to our mission!

Continuing Education During Covid

Virtual Learning

September 2, 2020

In the fall, Turpentine Creek’s education department is usually busy scheduling lots of field trips and special offsite presentations. As everyone knows this year has not gone as planned and adjustments have had to be made to continue educating the next generation of animal advocates and adults. 

Due to many COVID restrictions and changes in school field trip regulations, Turpentine Creek has decided to not conduct onsite field trips or go to offsite presentations for the rest of the year. But that doesn’t mean that we have put a halt to educating! As a true sanctuary, it is extremely important to promote our mission everywhere that we can and that is why we have decided to conduct virtual tours and field trips. 

At the beginning of 2020, our education department began utilizing Skype in the Classroom to reach people all over the world! Because of this, when the refuge closed in March, our team was able to conduct virtual lessons to classrooms while working at home. When it became time to make a decision to allow onsite field trips, we wanted to make sure that everyone was able to stay as safe as possible. 

We currently have two options for virtual learning opportunities.    

  1. Free to classrooms: Predators, Not Pets. This virtual lesson gets your classroom acquainted with what a true sanctuary is and why Turpentine Creek exists. We also explore the adaptations that make big cats and bears predators and not pets or props. This is interactive, meaning students can ask questions about the animals and Turpentine Creek. These lessons tend to be anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour long. 
  2. $30: Virtual Tour around the Refuge. Experience a tour around the refuge right from your computer! Our content producer and editor created a video of our animals for your group to see the cats in action. We decided to create a pre-recorded video instead of a live tour for a couple of reasons. We didn’t want our wifi to go out in the middle of your tour and you wouldn’t be able to see the animals. This video ensures you will see the animals. During this virtual tour, our education team will talk about where the animals were rescued from, their personalities, enrichment activities our animals enjoy, and many other things! Just like Predators, Not Pets, your group will have the opportunity to ask questions. 

These virtual learning experiences are not only for school groups but also adult groups. We change the tour based on the age of the group!  We are happy to talk to all groups both students and adults. These virtual opportunities are currently hosted Monday- Friday for two times each day. If you are interested in scheduling a tour with us, please contact our education department at or via phone at 479-253-5841 EXT 3.  You can learn more about all of our educational opportunities on our new education website at