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

New Batch of Keepers

Welcoming TCWR’s Newest Interns

August 27, 2020

Turpentine Creek has a world-renowned internship program. Every six months, we offer individuals with at least a Bachelor’s degree in an animal-related field to come get hands-on experience helping care for and rescue big cats and other animals in need. These individuals dedicate at least six months of their lives to helping Turpentine Creek care for survivors of the Big Cat Trade, in addition to bears and other exotics in need.

On August 15, our newest batch of interns began their six-month adventure. Some of these interns have already been with us for a previous internship(s). Others are new arrivals, but no matter what, they are in for a lot of hard work. 

We want to welcome our new interns: Brooke Barnett, Delaney Dicus, Arpan Paul, Katline Ronsse, Molly Seeburger and Lauren Teeling.

We would also like to welcome back our second round intern:  Shelby Boyle, Nathan Sanchez and Jadranka Wevgoldt, who despite the crazy COVID adjustments, are sticking it out for another round!

We also appreciate our third round interns, Yarelis Nazario Santana and Jade Schleicher.

And, we want to say a special “thank-you” to Jason LaVarnway, who is staying for his fifth internship with us! (that is over 2 ½ years!)

This internship looks different from previous years. Due to COVID-19, we had three interns back out shortly before the internship began, so we had to adapt and adjust having only 12 animal care interns this round instead of the typical 15-16. Luckily, we have a great team that is quick to adapt to any challenge.

We are very fortunate to have these 12 interns on our team and take on quite a bit more each day.  Nevertheless, we were able to make sure that this didn’t affect the daily lives of the animals.  They are getting everything they are used to with diets, enrichment, training, medications, maintaining their exhibits, and the list goes on and on!  Welcome to the team and we thank you so much for your dedication!  Regardless of a pandemic, the animals in captivity must be given the absolute best care,” stated Emily McCormack, Animal Curator. 

In addition to our animal care internship, our education internship began on August 15th as well. A past animal care intern, Jessica Vineyard, applied and was accepted to our education internship program. She will spend the next six months helping us educate kids and adults alike about big cats. We are focusing heavily on utilizing virtual platforms such as  Zoom, Skype In The Classroom, and our new education website to adapt to the challenges COVID has presented.

We are excited to have our new education intern Jessica join our department, she has hit the ground running. TCWR is dedicated to educating visitors from around the world both at the refuge and globally through our virtual lessons on the abuse that exotic animals face day to day and how they can make a change,” said Beckie Moore, Education Coordinator.

We are looking forward to seeing just what amazing things this group of interns accomplishes over their six months with us. Your support makes it possible for us to not only care for the animals that call our Refuge home but also to educate the next generation of animal care professionals. Please donate today to help us, help them. 

Bid For Big Cats

Two-Day Online Auction

August 5, 2020

Turpentine Creek is hosting a two-day online auction to support the animals that call turpentine Creek home.

Get ready to take home your own piece of TCWR or an awesome animal themed item! Our online auction will run for 36 hours! From August 7 at 8am until August 8 at 8pm, you can bid on your favorite items, including animal created artwork!

Mack Paw Painting

Since many of our in-person events had to be canceled this year, we are trying to offer more online opportunities to help our supporters still get to engage with and help the Refuge! We encourage our supporters to visit auction page to check out over 80 items that will be up for auction in the coming days!

Items up for auction include donated jewelry, handmade hair scrunchies, accessories, cookware, gift packages, lodging certificate, artwork, animal made artwork, animal toy holiday ornaments, animal destroyed toys, key chains, quilts, gift certificates, and more! There is a little for everyone at all price ranges. Now is the perfect time to start your holiday shopping with amazing items that will help support the animals that call Turpentine Creek home.

Enrichment toy flower pot

Turpentine Creek has been hit hard by COVID-19, although we reopened to the public July 1, 2020, we have been trying to make up a deficit in income of over $593,000, in comparison to 2019, from lack of ticket sales, events, and lodging. Our most basic budget to run the Refuge while open to the public is $173,000 per month if we have no projects, repairs, rescues, or builds in the works.

As school starts back up, we typically see a drastic drop in visitors and our income shifts to a heavy reliance on donations. Approximately half of our annual income comes through in end-of-year giving. We are hopeful that our donors will continue to rally and support the Refuge, as usual, but are also cautious since many people and businesses have been hard hit by COVID closures. Your donations help us continue to provide quality care for our animals and rescue animals in need. Please join us for our auction and if you do not win your bid on item(s) please consider donating your bid amount to help the animals at TCWR.

Collaboration, Education, and Innovation

Taking Steps Towards A Better Future For Big Cats

July 29, 2020

Turpentine Creek is working hard to create a better life for big cats in captivity all around the US. Through advocacy, education, and innovative veterinary procedures we are working towards our ultimate goal, putting an end to big cat abuse in the US.

This past week, Turpentine Creek’s very own Vice President, Scott Smith, joined a panel of captive animal experts to talk about the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Hosted by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Blackfish Director, the panelists discussed how the Big Cat Public Safety Act could help put an end to big cat abuse in the US. Scott was there to talk about how true sanctuaries, like Turpentine Creek, handle big rescues and how the passing of the Big Cat Public Safety Act could manage the potential influx of big cats needing homes. You can watch this presentation on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s website at

Our new education website is live and ready to help create the next generation of animal advocates! This week, our education website blog talks about the 10th annual International Tiger Day! Learn all about these beautiful big cats and why it is so important that we work to save them in the wild and protect them in captivity. You can learn more at

Don’t forget to join us during our paid live event this Sunday August 2nd at about 10am CST to watch as our staff Veterinarian Dr. Kellyn Sweely and animal care team gives BB King his first Chemo treatment. This treatment is groundbreaking for the sanctuary community. BB King is the first documented tiger with lingual haemangiosarcoma and the first tiger to be treated with chemo at a sanctuary. We hope that not only will we be able to save BB King’s life with this treatment but learn the best way to treat cancer in big cats with chemo so that we can save more lives in the future. For only $4.99 you can join us and witness this first treatment live online. Sign up to watch live at

It is only with your help that we can continue to not only rescue big cats in need but also find ways to improve their lives. Please join our mission and donate today! A monthly recurring donation of $10 can save a life! Also, don’t forget that many employers will match donations, check to see if your employer offers matching donations on our donations page!

Educating Future Generations

TCWR Launches Education Website

July 22, 2020

Turpentine Creek’s education department has been hard at work since the beginning of 2020! Not only have they been offering zoom classes, virtual day camps, and giving tours at the Refuge but they have also been working to assemble a beautiful new educational resource website!

On Wednesday we launched our new education website available to the public! This website combines all the old educational information on and extra educational resources for teachers or other educational organizers! The new website can still be accessed from our main website at by clicking the Education Resources tab on the menu but you can also get directly to that site by going to

This new resource helps make it easier for people to find relevant information, educate themselves, and learn more about the plight of big cats and bear in captivity. Our team of wildlife Interpreters, certified through the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) will be maintaining the website, posting educational blogs and articles on a regular basis, uploading educational videos, and creating lesson plans for teachers to use.

We are excited to offer this resource to our supporters and educators. With this new educational tool we are one step closer to changing the future of all big cats. With your help we can prevent future generations of big cats from being used for entertainment. We can educate generations of animal advocates and create change! Thank you for your support, donate today and help us work towards a better future for big cats.

Fight Cancer Like A Tiger

BB King’s Battle

July 15, 2020

Twelve-year-old tiger, BB King, is about to start the fight for his life! Recently, BB King was taken to the vet hospital to have a growth on his tongue removed. When our Veterinarian Dr. Kellyn had it tested we found out that it was a very rare form of cancer called Lingual haemangiosarcoma. This cancer is typically only found in dogs and domestic cats and usually on vital organs, not on the tongue.

Dr. Kellyn consulted with Kansas State University exotics faculty members Sara Gardhouse and Dr. Sam Hocker to work out a treatment plan. After extensive X-rays and ultrasounds we are confident that we caught this cancer early and it has not spread to any vital organs. With this information, BB King’s overall health, and his younger age, it was decided that he was an ideal candidate for a chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin. With this treatment, BB King will get a 30ml dose of chemo via IV once every 3 weeks for 4-6 treatments. After treatment, he should go into remission and be able to live a long, healthy life with us at Turpentine Creek.

Throughout the procedure, we will be closely monitoring BB King for any signs of discomfort or other medical issues and constantly be evaluating his status. We have temporarily moved BB King and his brother Mack down to Rescue Ridge for ease of access during treatment. BB King is very willing to participate in transportation; he easily loaded into and out of the transport cage

This 405 lb tiger seems very comfortable at the veterinary hospital and although a little cautious about our sliding squeeze door happily chuffs and greets team members throughout his hospital stay; he is a better patient than most humans who have to spend time at a hospital!

Since opening our onsite veterinary hospital in 2016 we have treated a variety of illnesses in our animals, from bad declaws, to dental issues. Having an onsite hospital has been very convenient to our mission, but BB King’s treatment is ground breaking. Without our onsite hospital and staff veterinarian, it wouldn’t be possible. Your support of our animal care and veterinary program is giving BB King a chance! Please donate to help us continue to care for all the animals and make sure they are healthy. Your support changes lives!

We will be keeping our supporters up-to-date on BB King’s treatment through Facebook, blogs, and emails. We are also going to be offering special Paid Facebook Events for our supporters so that they can be part of BB King’s treatment and care, all funds raised during the paid live events will go towards our animal care.

Building Better Habitats

Small Cat Habitat Project Update

July 8, 2020

Turpentine Creek has been working to expand and improve one of our older habitats. What was once three smaller bobcat habitats up in our Discovery Area has been combined and expanded into one very large habitat for all types of smaller cats to enjoy! 

We had been planning to make these improvements for a while, but our Covid closure gave us a great opportunity to start. The process has been slowed a bit due to weather and other building challenges, but we are quickly approaching the end of this project! 

We’ve been utilizing local natural resources to improve this habitat! Maintenance found some beautiful rocks from around our property to build natural benches and shade structures; we also found some dead logs to add so that our small cats can sharpen their claws and follow their natural instincts to mark their territory. We’ve also built plenty of other vertical platforms and natural shade structures to enhance our small cat’s lives!

This habitat isn’t just a simple combination of the old three smaller bobcat habitats, which were about 400 square feet each; we’ve also removed some cement and expanded it! It is now four and a half times that size covering 1,800 square feet of grass for the small cats to enjoy every day!

This habitat will stand for years to come, giving refuge and a safe home for many small cats that Turpentine Creek will rescue in the future: bobcats, lynx, caracals, geoffroy cats, etc. you never know what rescue is around the corner or what types of cats will need a home. We do our best to make habitats versatile so that they can be a home to any cat in need. 

Please help us continue to provide a safe refuge for survivors of the big cat and wildcat trade by setting up a recurring monthly donation today! Your monthly donation will help us to provide care, a reliable source of income, and allow us to rescue more animals! Sign up today to help us build a better foundation and future for animals in need. 

Big Cat Introductions

Luna And Remington Reunited At Last

July 1, 2020

In January, Turpentine Creek rescued Luna and Remington, two white tigers who were part of a long court battle. These two tigers, along with many others, had been used in a pay-to-play “swim with tigers” scheme in Florida. While a court battle raged, Remington, Luna, and 2 other tigers were smuggled to another facility where they lived until the 2 other tigers escaped and were killed. This finally prompted the court to give Remington and Luna to a new home, with us. 

We were told upon rescue that Luna and Remington had once lived together, because of this we decided the two could potentially be reunited, but only after Remington was neutered since we are a non-breeding facility. After rescue we carefully observed the pair, who were sharing a habitat on a daily rotation schedule. We watched them interact through a fence, which went very well, and were quickly reassured that they had the potential for introduction.

Remington enjoying a cat bath

Remington enjoying a cat bath.

Usually, we only introduce animals who have lived together in the past and were rescued together. It is very rare that two full grown tigers from separate rescues can be introduced. In the wild, these animals are very territorial. They are solitary animals and only interact when breeding or during territorial fights. In captivity, they can live in small groups since they are not competing for resources (food, water, breeding rights), but usually this is only with animals they are familiar with. Even animals that are already living in groups don’t always stay together, many times we’ve had to separate groups like Poncho and Montana or Chuff, Abigail, and Athena. Although they spent years living together they became more territorial as they grew older. 

Luna in her pool

Luna staying cool in her pool.

After Remington was neutered and completely healed, we decided to start the introduction process. At first, we allowed the pair to meet in their night house area, a smaller space where we could closely observe them and quickly separate them if necessary. During introductions we always have a few team members watching with hoses, ‘no’ bottles (vinegar/water mix), and other items that we can use to quickly distract the animals if they begin to fight. These items won’t cause harm to the animals, just startle them and redirect their attention. 

The night house introduction went well, and we soon allowed them to go into the habitat together, still observing them with team members at the ready. Remington is very interested in Luna; he approaches her often with happy chuffs. Luna is a bit more cautious, sometimes getting startled and hissing at Remington. They will sometimes slap at each other but it is nothing more than a warning for the other to back off, claws are not out and after a slap the other backs off quickly.

After only a few days we have already seen Remington and Luna taking naps together on the bench and sunning themselves close together. We will continue to observe the pair to watch for issues and feed them separate but we are very hopeful that soon we can just let the pair enjoy their habitat together in peace. 

It is thanks to your support and donations that we can rescue animals like Luna and Remington, survivors of the cub-petting industry. Your monthly recurring donation allows us to plan for the future and when rescue calls come in know that we can answer yes to saving those animals’ lives. Please set up your monthly recurring donation today, even $5 a month can save the life of a survivor of the big cat trade!