Monthly Archives: January 2021

An Amazing Experience

Winter Time At The Refuge

January 27, 2021

This week has brought weather that’s been perfect for all of our feline residents. African big cats like lions and servals typically prefer warm but not hot temperatures while tigers fair well on chilly, even damp days. It’s been cloudy and a bit dreary at TCWR, but the temperatures have settled in the sweet spot for lions to sing, servals to pounce from log-to-log in their habitat, and tigers to bat at enrichment and stalk everything in sight. We were even treated to a light dusting of snow that was just enough for cold-weather-loving cats to be excited and warm-preferring ones to be tolerant and even a little curious.

Winter is our slow season, and many people don’t realize how perfect of a time it is to visit. Summer draws more crowds with children out of school and people soaking up the sun, but guests have to be much pickier in regards to the time of day they visit. On very hot days, guests prefer to stick to tours at 10 AM or towards the end of the day, at 3 PM or 4 PM. Winter weather like we have had this week takes care of that issue by providing stable temperatures that might cause us to throw on a light windbreaker and beanie, but that big cats find “purrrfect” in their built-in fur coats.

We have taken precautions to keep our team members, guests, and of course, our animal residents safe during the pandemic. Aside from masking and cleaning procedures, we have also capped tours to limit the number of people in the Refuge at one time. Given that tours are nearly empty during the week this time of year and sparse on the weekends, social distancing is even easier for you and your family by booking a wintertime day trip or overnight stay.

If you’d like to take advantage of this special season that few people get to experience with our animal residents, please book your tickets ahead of time at tcwr.org/visit. We always recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before the start of your scheduled tour; tours leave every hour on the hour on the dot, which means arriving right at 10 AM for your 10 AM tour could cause you to miss it. Please also wear a mask to protect our animal residents.

For an even more special experience, book an overnight or weekend getaway to our little piece of Africa in the Ozarks! Watch our animal residents play and possibly frolic in some snow before returning to the warmth and comfort of your family-friendly suite. If you are 18 or older and interested in a trip for two, you can book one of our Zulu Lodges, which gives you access to our comfortable hot tub that is guaranteed to get rid of the chill while you chill. Relaxing in the Ozark Mountains as lions carol away sets the tone for the reset you need. You can explore pricing and book at https://www.turpentinecreek.org/stay-with-us/view-all/.

Celebrating One Year Of Freedom

Luna And Remington’s Rescue Anniversary

January 20, 2021

Remington at Florida Facility

This month, we celebrate the one year rescue-versary of Luna and Remington, two survivors of the pay-to-play cub petting industry. Luckily, through the efforts of animal advocacy groups and PETA they were saved, but sadly, not everyone survived to rescue.

Luna and Remington, along with cubs Rory and Rajah, began their lives at a Florida roadside attraction where they were forced to swim with paying humans in harshly chlorinated pools all day in a ‘swim with the tigers’ entertainment scam. The cubs struggled to keep their heads above water for hours at a time, with little rest between sessions, netting a fat income for the owners. Then, a 2016 PETA lawsuit charged the facility with several violations of the Federal Endangered Species Act (prematurely separating tiger cubs from their mothers, forcing them into public encounters, and warehousing them in cramped cages), prompting a court-ordered site inspection.

Sometimes things get complicated. Rescuing animals isn’t as simple as exposing abuse to our legal system and being prepared to accommodate the animals. Owners of unethical facilities, seeing their income threatened, may go to extreme lengths to hang on to their ‘golden geese.’ Court cases can drag on for months or even years, prolonging the suffering of animals. Such was the case with Luna and Remington, who were tied up in a court case for three years! Sometimes, as in this case, the rescue comes too late to save all the animals involved.

All four cubs were scheduled to come to Turpentine Creek, but appeals continually delayed their rescue. Sadly, for Rory and Rajah, the court ruling came too late. Reportedly, due to storm damage, they escaped their enclosures and were killed.

They were not the only victims of this attempt to hide evidence; 19 other tigers were shipped off to Oklahoma in an inadequately ventilated trailer. Three cubs born during the transport overheated and did not survive the trip.

Luna and Remington lost no time in discovering the joys of their new large grassy habitat. They greet team members with endless “chuffs” and cheerful groans. They joyfully roll on their backs, and explore the tastes of everything from a leaf-covered limb to their enrichment toys. For the first time in their lives they were allowed and encouraged to exercise their predatory instincts, pouncing on their enrichment toys as if they were prey, sharpening their claws on logs, and stalking their neighbors and care team. They finally have the freedom to just be Tigers, able to choose what to do next. They are relishing every new natural experience, reliving the cub-hood that was stolen from them.

Luna at TCWR

Luckily, advocates and sanctuaries around the country are working to past laws to put an end to cub petting and hands on interaction with big cats. The Big Cat Public Safety Act passed through the house last congressional session but did not manage to make it to the Senate. It has recently been reintroduced to the House as H.R. 263. There are already over 50 House Representatives signed on to support the bill.

When the Big Cat Public Safety Act passes, it will ban the petting and handling of cubs at roadside zoos who profit from these forms of public interaction at the expense of the baby animals’ wellbeing. It will also end the private ownership of big cats. Those who currently own big cats will not have to give up their animals, but they will be required to stop breeding, purchasing, selling, trading, and allowing the public to handle the felines

Remington at TCWR

If you were Luna and Remington, wouldn’t you want a better life? With your help, we can see this legislation passed into law in 2021! If you would like to help, there are two simple courses of action you can take:

Contact your Representative about The Big Cat Public Safety Act Tell at least one person about why passage of HR263 is so important to You, and ask them to: 1) Visit our advocacy page to contact their Representatives 2) Pass on the message to one other person.

Let’s start a chain of action NOW that will forever change how these magnificent animals will be cared for across our nation.

Big Cat Public Safety Act Reintroduced in 117th Congress Session

A New Chance To Save Lives

January 13, 2021

A bill to protect exotic cats from abuse and neglect, as well as the public from the danger that comes with improper owners being able to obtain theses animals, has been reintroduced into the House as H.R. 263, The Big Cat Public Safety Act. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, is asking our supporters to rally behind this bill and reach out to your US House Representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the bill! Last session, the bill passed through the house with 2/3 majority vote, we are confident with your help we can quickly get this bill passed through the house again. The text of this bill has not changed, it just has a new number in this new Congressional Session.

When the Big Cat Public Safety Act passes, it will ban the petting and handling of cubs at roadside zoos who profit from these forms of public interaction at the expense of the baby animals’ wellbeing. It will also end the private ownership of big cats. Those who currently own big cats will not have to give up their animals, but they will be required to stop breeding, purchasing, selling, trading, and allowing the public to handle the felines.

According to Representative Mike Quigley, who reintroduced the bill Tuesday, unregulated private ownership of wild exotic felines leads to dismal lives for the animal and poses a danger to individuals who may have to intervene when an incident occurs, such as EMTs and law enforcement.

“Animals like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas simply do not belong in private ownership. Not only does it place the public, including law enforcement and first responders, in grave danger – it also often results in these animals living in miserable conditions,” Quigley told Brianna Grant with the Earth Island Journal.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been advocating for the bill for several years. Because we provide a lifetime home to abused and neglected big cats, our team has observed first-hand what happens within the “Big Cat Trade.”

TCWR President, Tanya Smith, also spoke to Grant in the article about the reintroduction of the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

In the article on EarthIsland.org, Grant recounted her interview with Smith, writing “that animals in the cub petting industry often suffer from health issues. One common ailment is metabolic bone disease — a condition where bones become weak and easily break — which can result from cubs being taken away from their mothers and fed formula lacking essential nutrients. Smith says this is often done to keep cubs small and hungry for bottle-feeding sessions with visitors. ‘We actually rescued three tigers that couldn’t even walk when we got there. They were dragging themselves around and they were still put on display,” she says.’”

We have worked quickly to update our advocacy page and information to reflect this reintroduction and the bill’s new assigned number H.R. 263. We are also working with other sanctuaries to get the bill reintroduced to the Senate as quickly as possible.

We are hopeful that this bill will quickly pass. Out of the 230 co-signers on the House Bill last session 205 kept their seats in the House; only 13 co-sponsors from majority if the old co-sponsors do so again. Out of the 41 Co-sponsors in the senate 37 kept their seats; only 14 co-sponsors from majority if the old co-sponsors do so again.

Your message to congress could make all the difference, please visit our advocacy page to message your House Representatives TODAY! With your help, we could see the end of the Big Cat Trade before this year is over!

Grant’s full article about the bill can be read at https://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/big-cat-public-safety-act-reintroduced-in-house.

New Year, Same Us!

Welcome To 2021: The Big Cat Trade Ends Here!

January 6, 2021

The beginning of a new year brings many exclamations of “New year, new me!,” but at TCWR, we view it as “New year, same us!” As in all years past, we are continuing to focus on creating a better future for big cats, one day at a time. We are grateful that you have chosen to continue this fight with us!

As we’ve already recounted many times, 2020 was tough, but was filled with so much joy. From the twelve animals you saved to the progress made on the Big Cat Public Safety Act, it was easy to find pockets of peace and evidence of progress even in unprecedented adversity. This has left us going into 2021 with strength, hope, and confidence that big cat lives will continue to change for the better.

Last year, we created a pledge that many of you participated in. It listed 10 simple steps to help end the Big Cat Trade and protect vulnerable animals. Many of our rescues came from significant criminals working within the Big Cat Trade, and the Big Cat Public Safety Act caught the attention of politicians unlike ever before. This happened as the result of hundreds of you taking the 10 simple steps throughout 2020. We are confident that the Big Cat Public Safety Act will be re-submitted in a few short months, and we are going to need your help to get it passed quickly!

We are resharing the 10 simple steps once again to continue the fight and help you find inspiration each day for the coming 12 months:

  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 you support facilities like Turpentine Creek and what they do
  6. Volunteer at least 1 hour of your 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 your 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

If you’d like to do more, please consider becoming a recurring donor! Recurring donors are who kept us going when resources were stretched thin in 2020, and we incurred about $120,000 of new animal care expenses for our 12 rescues. As an added bonus, the COVID-19 Relief Bill has extended up to $300 in charitable donations through 2022, meaning recurring donors can qualify for even more tax breaks. On top of that, we have created an easy-to-use employer match tool on our website, which allows you to see if your place-of-work will double or even triple your charitable donations! It’s a win-win for you, our animal residents, and yes, even your boss. You can sign up to become a recurring donor and use our matching tool at tcwr.org/donate.

Here we go! Welcome to 2021.

The Trade ends here!