Monthly Archives: March 2021

Bears & Butterflies

Bears Emerge from Torpor ‘Cocoon’ Just in Time for World Bear Day

March 25, 2021

Like butterflies undergoing metamorphosis, our bear residents retreated to their dens during the cold season and have since emerged…well, just as stinky and silly as ever!

They made their entrance back into the “real world” just in time for World Bear Day, which was celebrated this past Tuesday, March 23. There was special enrichment for all nine of our furry, burly residents.

Bam Bam the grizzly spent the day splashing in his pool. Russian Brown Bear, Huggy, partied by destroying as many trees in his habitat as possible, much to the dismay of his unbiological sisters, black bears Holli and Lolli, who just wanted to climb. Young black bears, Xena and Koda G, also clambered up in the tree tops to look over the rolling Ozark hills and see what they missed during their torpor. Harley and Thunder rolled and wrestled in the grass, while Michael lazed around looking unBEARably cute.

Bears, no matter their age, are the toddlers of the Refuge. They require constant, ever-changing entertainment lest they become destructive and mischievous. Due to their natural intelligence and curiosity, their enrichment program rotates more than that of any other animal resident. They certainly keep our team creative and engaged in coming up with new things for our bear residents to play with!

Of all the bears who call the Refuge home, Huggy might be the most difficult to entertain. His sheer size and personality make it easy for him to reduce enrichment items to nothing in a matter of seconds. This is why we’re excited for his opportunity to reside in one of our natural bear habitats, built in October 2018. This large habitat incorporated the trees and plants already residing on our land in order to encourage natural bear behaviors. While we still have to provide plenty of entertainment for this bodacious brown bear, his surroundings do a fantastic job of keeping him occupied.

Visits to many of our bear residents are limited for the time being due to the pandemic. However, beloved grizzly, Bam Bam remains one of the first animals you encounter as you exit the gift shop to take your tour. If you’re unsure why he’s so popular, we encourage you to visit and find out; it won’t take long for it to become obvious!

Booking ahead is the only way to guarantee a spot on our tours, and you can do so at Tours leave in the Spring and Summer every hour on the hour from 9 AM – 4 PM. We ask that you arrive at least 25 minutes before your scheduled tour time and continue wearing a mask (even if you are vaccinated) until further notice. You will be with a tour guide for the entirety of your visit; after strolling through the Discovery area accompanied by the guide, you will spend the rest of the tour on our open-air tram.

Our popular lodging accommodations, including the Bam Bam Bungalow Glamping Tent, are also open for bookings. Click here for pricing, pictures, and to reserve.

It’s a Big Cat Second Honeymoon

Chief & Mauri Will Be Reunited Soon

March 18, 2021

Chief & Mauri were in sad condition back in September of 2020 when we rescued them from their Charleston, Indiana, facility. In dire need of rehydration and proper nutrition, both had a severe infestation of parasites as well. Because of the severity of their conditions, it was necessary to provide separate but adjacent living spaces for each. Now that both are healthy and living large in the natural surroundings of their new forever home, we are fast approaching the time for their glorious reunion! And we are inviting you to be a part of that by submitting ideas for how we can make that very special day even more magical! 


Working towards that goal not only meant restoring the health of these two beautiful creatures, but medically preparing them to cohabitate for a lifetime together, that would not result in offspring. When it comes to lions, it is common practice to perform a vasectomy on the male, rather than neutering him, as we do tigers. That is because unlike tigers, the lions coat – specifically his regal mane, is dependent on his body’s rich supply of testosterone. Without it, he would completely lose his most impressive physical attribute, not only in our eyes, but in that of his female partner. In the wild, this outward display of testosterone also serves as a visual clue to other males, regarding his level of dominance and hierarchy, both within the pride and his animal species.   


In Chief’s case, given the fragility of his health, we opted to forgo surgery of any kind, and instead provide birth control to his mate, Mauri. Additional benefits of this route include the elimination of Mauri’s heat cycle, which also eliminates the increased male aggression that is associated with it. As of this writing, Mauri should be hormonally ready for re-introduction to Chief in roughly two weeks. However, such introductions are animal specific and differ according to individual situation and the animals involved. Based on observations, the reunion is expected to go smoothly and relatively quickly, given Chief & Mauri’s history and amicable nature of their union. 


Clearly, Chief is the more smitten of the two, frequently displaying a protective stance towards his much younger (10 years) bride. He routinely maintains close watch over Mauri, and during pre-op preparations such as simple administrations of medication, even the smallest expression of apprehension on Mauri’s part resulted in Chief racing to her cage-side in a loud and dramatic act of protection! Mauri, on the other hand is a bit more aloof and seems to be somewhat indifferent to the temporary separation from her partner. 


You can submit suggestions for Chief & Mauri’s Reunion Celebration by emailing us at (put “2nd Honeymoon” in the subject line) or by using social media. Find us on Facebook, Instagram or TickTok. But hurry! We need time to prepare for that special day! Will it be a heart shaped piñata filled with chicken parts? Giant meat wine glasses? You tell us! We can’t wait to hear!




NWA Gives…And Beyond!

Join Us for Prizes and Fun April 8, from 8 AM – 8 PM

March 11, 2021

If you’ve known us awhile, you know we don’t do fundraising- we do FUNraising! Our next big online “pawty” will be NWA Gives Day on April 8, from 8 AM – 8 PM! During these 12 hours, we will be raising money that will support our current animal residents and allow us to quickly answer the call from others in need.

It’s been a tough year, between COVID-19 and winter storms, and we’re ready to blow off some steam! The fun will include random prize drawings and tons of live videos throughout the day. Though closures to the public from winter storms and operating at a limited  capacity due to the pandemic has been difficult on the Refuge financially, it has given us some extra time to create cool prizes that you can get your paws on April 8!

We love NWA, but our animal residents are lucky enough to get love from across the country, which is why everyone, from NWA and beyond, gets an invite to this feline fun time! You’re welcome whether you are able to donate directly to our $35,000 goal or not. Just make sure to tune in to our social media pages on April 8, from 8 AM – 8 PM, for your chance to win prizes and engage with your Turpentine Creek family through live videos.

Donations can be made on April 8 through our official page on the NWA Gives platform, through Facebook, or on a page we’re creating at, that will be ready to share very soon. 

For those who wish to mail checks, we encourage you to send them by April 1, so they can be counted by April 8. Please mail your donations to :

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

239 Turpentine Creek Lane,

Eureka Springs, AR


Please make checks payable to “Turpentine Creek Foundation Inc.” for “NWA Gives.”

If you’re a business owner or individual who would like to make a matching donation, please email We would be honored to promote your business or give you a personal shout-out for your generosity! Anonymous donations are also welcome.

Stay tuned for more updates on NWA Gives…and Beyond! 

Get Loud for Lila

Lila Tiger Died at the Waccatee Zoo Following Alleged Neglect

March 4, 2021

Lila tiger sparked outcry after photos of her, hairless and weak, were taken at the Waccatee Zoo in 2020. True sanctuaries and other animal welfare organizations could do nothing without the proper agencies stepping in first. Despite a year of filing complaints and providing evidence of neglect to the USDA and animal control authorities in South Carolina, no officials intervened to help her. Now, she’s dead.

Gruesome photos like those shown here were submitted along with accounts that Lila had lost all of her beautiful fur. The strong muscle tone that makes her species such agile hunters was wasting away. This apex predator spent her days pacing back and forth in her cage, alone, cold, and scared. Her eyes were those of a broken soul and damaged spirit that had given up long before her body. Why didn’t anyone help her? 

The zoo alleged the tiger was receiving veterinary care and had no health conditions; her outward appearance told a different story. They also alleged she died peacefully in her sleep. The exact cause of her death may be up for debate, but one thing is certain to those familiar with the case: nothing about lovely Lila’s life was peaceful. We can only hope she felt some comfort that her pain was over as she took her last breath.

Lila lost her fur. Lila lost her strength. Lila lost her life. Lila will not lose her legacy! 

We want you to #GetLoudForLila to save the other animals still trapped at the Waccatee Zoo! Share her story. Say her name. Take action by writing to the zoo’s owner, urging them to rehome the animals to proper facilities that can allow their story to end differently than Lila’s:

Attn: Owner Waccatee Zoological Farm 8500 Enterprise Rd. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588

Rest in peace, Lila.