Meet the Rescues from Tiger King Park

Introducing Kyro & Opie

June 9, 2021

As you know, we recently assisted the Federal Government in rescuing sixty-eight big cats from Jeffery (Jeff) and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park. Twelve big cats and one jaguar have found their way to the Refuge. We are still limited on details for two reasons: first, there are only so many we can legally provide due to the ongoing court case. Second, we are still learning the purrsonalities of these exotic cats. We invite you on this journey of getting to know them; each week, one or two will be featured in our e-newsletter for this reason.

Kyro is a big boy! He’s not quite as big as white tiger, Robbie, was when he first arrived, but staff estimates him to be between 450 & 500 lbs! However, he is a much more active animal than Robbie was, and he is tall! He is also quite a  character! This li-liger is a pretty happy guy and seems to have developed a strong affection for his caretakers already! He frequently runs to the fence to greet them, but often stops short and more or less “falls” into the fence with his full body weight! He makes quite a spectacle of himself, and has managed to capture the attention of his neighbors, Miles, Chuff and Athena who are mesmerized by his playful antics! In addition to his sloppy and somewhat wobbly gait, he also likes to greet the tour tram by sticking his tongue out at them!

Opie is one happy tiger! He likes to chuff- A LOT! In the short time he has been here, he has already been dubbed “The Chuff-Machine!” In addition to his happy-go-lucky attitude, he is also quite curious. He routinely follows staff as they make their way in and around his habitat boundaries. He seems to be especially content when enjoying his outer habitat, which he shares on alternating days with his mate Lyla (since she is currently in heat). Opie frequently stands on his hind legs against the fence to demonstrate his prowess to her. But as close as the pair are emotionally, physically, the two couldn’t be more different… For one thing, Lyla is a lioness! And as tall as Opie is – Lyla is short and squat! So short in fact that our staff refers to her as a “pocket lion.” Despite their differences, Opie seems quite fond of Lyla and the two get along well. Outside of his love life, Opie takes great joy in his pool, and puts it to good use every chance he gets! But no splashing here… Opie’s pool is actually more of a reflecting pond! He is frequently seen simply sitting, or even reclining, and just taking it all in. It’s as if he is enjoying the day, simply savoring the moment! 

Please consider supporting Kyro, Opie and their eleven companions by making a donation in their honor.

You can read our first blog post, which further explains the rescue here.

You can read the Department of Justice’s official press release here. 

Meet the Rescues from Tiger King Park

Introducing Lyla

June 7, 2021

As you know, we recently assisted the Federal Government in rescuing sixty-eight big cats from Jeffery (Jeff) and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park. Twelve big cats and one jaguar have found their way to the Refuge. We are still limited on details for two reasons: first, there are only so many we can legally provide due to the ongoing court case. Second, we are still learning the purrsonalities of these exotic cats. We invite you on this journey of getting to know them; each week, one or two will be featured in our e-newsletter for this reason.

Lyla is a female lion who is already settling into the unfamiliar space she finds herself in. Emerging confidently from her roll cage following the long trip from Oklahoma, the lioness scoped out her night house area before eagerly stepping out onto grassy terrain. She seemed excited to explore the habitat’s features, and the natural log seems to be her favorite item thus far. Within seconds, she made her way towards it, employing it as a prop to stretch before clambering on top. Though this element offers a barely taller view than she would have standing, Lyla displays the air of a noble queen surveying her kingdom upon it.

There has also been much sniffing of toys, barrels, and other enrichment items. The grass and her new neighbors provide additional interesting smells to be explored. Of course, our current animal residents remain ever-nosey, giving the pretty queen a stare-down every chance they get. Lyla holds her own, however, and seems unbothered by her rude neighbors. In fact, she’s just as interested in them as they are in her.

In addition to playing, Lyla spends time looking, listening, and sniffing; her curiosity is encouraging because it means keeping her motivated to exercise and engage her natural instincts through enrichment should be fairly easy.

Please consider supporting Lyla and her twelve companions by making a donation in their honor.

You can read last week’s blog post, which further explains the rescue here.

You can read the Department of Justice’s official press release here. 

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Assists Federal Government in Rescue of Sixty Eight Big Cats from Tiger King Park

Thirteen Exotic Cats Safe at TCWR’s GFAS-Accredited Sanctuary

May 28, 2020

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge [TCWR] assisted the Federal Government in rescuing sixty-eight big cats from Jeffery (Jeff) and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park previously owned by so-called “Tiger King,” Joe Exotic.

In January, a federal judge ordered the Lowes to surrender all big cat cubs in their possession under the age of one-years-old, as well as the mothers of the cubs, to the government, who has worked with sanctuaries and other animal welfare agencies to find safe homes for them. This comes after the judge “found that the United States had a likelihood of success on the merits of its claims that the Lowes had violated the Endangered Species Act, as well as the Animal Welfare Act.” 

A press release from the Department of Justice [DOJ]  listed that, “failure to provide safe conditions, proper nutrition, and timely veterinary care resulted in harm to a number of animals, including the death of two tiger cubs less than a week apart,” and that the Lowes had a “pattern and practice of providing substandard care” to animals at their park. The release also noted that the Lowes put their animals in danger, under the Animal Welfare Act, by failing to have a qualified attending veterinarian employed at the park. 

Last week, the remaining Big Cats (of various ages and species) were seized after the Lowes were deemed non-compliant with court orders to increase the quality of care they were providing their animals. This was following three inspections since December 2020, which concluded the Lowe’s failed “to provide the animals with adequate or timely veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, and shelter that protects them from inclement weather and is of sufficient size to allow them to engage in normal behavior.” 

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was contacted by the DOJ to assist in the rescue. Team members made two trips to Oklahoma, bringing back 13 animals total. They assisted in the transport of 8 animals to other GFAS-accredited sanctuaries and facilitated the placement of other felines at refuges within the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance [BCSA]. The BCSA is comprised of accredited sanctuaries who are working together to rescue big cats in need and advocate for the betterment of their futures. 

The twelve big cats (which include lions, tigers, a liger and a li-liger) and jaguar are undergoing medical examinations by TCWR’s staff veterinarian.

TCWR President Tanya Smith, who has been silently working with the DOJ and BCPSA for months to facilitate the rescue, says she is grateful the animals are safe at proper facilities now. She views the Court’s ruling and DOJ’s recent seizure as a win not only for the 68 big cats directly affected, but also for other big cats who may benefit from the precedent set by this case. 

Please consider making a donation to support the cost of the rescue. You can support the start of their new lives by making a donation at

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is an animal sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. As a “true sanctuary,” they do not buy, sell, trade, or breed animals, but rather, provide a lifetime home to animals who have faced non-conservational for-profit breeding and other forms of abuse at the hands of private owners. Aside from providing the highest of care for the animals that find their forever home with them, key aspects of their mission includes education and advocacy with a goal of “ending the Big Cat Trade in our lifetime” and as a result, ceasing the need for places like the Refuge to even exist. TCWR has been a voice for animals for almost 30 years and has spent years advocating for the passage of The Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263 S.1210.

For updates on the new rescues’ journey, please “Like” Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Twitter @turpentinecreek, subscribe to their Youtube channel, and sign up for their weekly e-newsletter at 

To view the press release from the Department of Justice, please click here.

Experience the Magic of Spring at Turpentine Creek

Blooming Flowers, Bam Bam’s Waterfall Showers

May 22, 2021

TCWR is alive with the sights and sounds of springtime! In addition to the enthusiastic roars, chuffs, and grrrrrrs, so commonly heard at our refuge, wrens are trilling, chipmunks are scurrying (away from big cats!) and an array of scented herbs and native plantings are bursting forth to greet the day! The gentle spring sun is warming the earth, and the scent of blooms weighs heavily in the air!

Now that our bear residents have emerged from their winter torphor, all our animal residents are awake and ready to soak up the milder spring days! Bam Bam the grizzly, especially, adores the warmer months where his pool is full and more guests are flocking to see him! Additionally, each season gives us opportunities to spice up enrichment routines, and Spring is no exception. While supporters are kind enough to donate dried herbs for scent enrichment all year long, we’re fortunate to have a garden complete with fragrant flora. These fresh herbs are a true treat to entice the sniffers of every big cat and bear.

A quick survey of our Animal Enrichment Garden reveals an assortment of Salvias and Mints sprouting, from Chocolate, to Traditional, to Spearmint… and of course the ever-popular Catmint! Additional emerging perennials include Oregano and Thyme; and what herb garden would be complete without Lavender? We also find the ultra-aromatic Wild Bergamot, more commonly known as Bee-Balm, a butterfly and hummingbird favorite! This patch of herbaceous olfactory delights for our big cats is encircled by a bed of Roses and Day-Lillies, and accented by an occasional volunteer Bronze Fennel, from years gone by.

The other plants blooming across our beautiful slice of “Africa in the Ozarks” serve a purpose, too! Not only do they show off the beautiful Arkansas scenery, but they support native wildlife. We know the importance of biodiversity and many of our plants cater to vanishing pollinators: butterflies and bees! Our Education Team is comprised of Wildlife Interpreters who know which flowers are best for these creatures.

A quick stroll around the corner reveals a garden pond, now abloom with delicately colored flowers, cheerfully bobbing and swooning above the darkly colored lilly pads, that provide shade to the bright orange Coy fish playing below. To one side of the pond sits a raised flower bed, recently-planted with Native Perennials by our Education staff. Newly introduced plant varieties include:


  • Brunnera macrophylla, which goes by several common names, including Siberian Bugloss, False Forget-Me-Not, and Brunnera. It has a slightly mottled leaf, with tiny blue flowers that dance high above its leaves.


  • Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is a member of the Asteraceae family, and is native to most of the United States, parts of Canada, and Mexico, and makes a bright cheerful addition to any native perennial garden. 


  • Aster oblongifolius, more commonly referred to as Aromatic Aster, Shale Barren Aster, or even Wild Blue Aster, is highly attractive to native bees and butterflies. It is an essential nectar source for pollinating insects preparing for winter, as it tends to bloom when few other nectar sources are available. 


  • Rattlesnake Master is one of the host plants of the Black Swallowtail! It’s Latin name, Eryngium yuccifolium, comes from the fact that its leaves look very much like a Yucca plant. Other common names include Button Snakeroot, Yucca-leaf Eryngo, Corn Snakeroot, Rattlesnake Flag, and Rattlesnake Weed. Despite all of it’s snake-related names, it neither attracts or repels them, but instead gets its names from its supposed anti-venom properties!


  • Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), are native to North America and one of the most popular wildflowers grown. They typically occur in open woods, prairies, fields, roadsides and disturbed areas. 


  • Milk weed: Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is one of about 115 species that occur in the Americas, and is the larval host plant for the Monarch Butterfly. Over 450 insects are known to feed on some portion of this plant!


  • Mexican Hat is also known as Upright Prairie Coneflower & Long-headed Coneflower. It’s Latin Name is Ratibida columnaris, and it is a member of the Asteraceae family. It gets its name from its distinctive shape; a tall cone surrounded by drooping petals that look somewhat like a sombrero. Its foliage, deeply cleft leaves near the base, has a strong odor that is reported to work as a deer repellent!


In addition to finding newly- emerging plants, experiencing enticing natural aromas, and breathtaking panoramic views, you can be sure your springtime visit to TCWR will include seeing Bam Bam’s pool water level at its fullest… His waterfall blasting forth… and Bam Bam (the ham ham) all too eager to greet our guests!

Bam Bam says “Let the fun begin!”

A Deep Dive Into the Texas Tiger Situation

What it Means for Big Cat Ownership

It’s impossible to miss the latest news coming out of Houston, Texas. A tiger was filmed in a neighborhood last Sunday. We would like to address some of the most commonly asked questions we received after posting the story to our Facebook page, as well as summarize why this points to a greater need for federal legislation regarding big cat ownership. 

Why would the off-duty officer pull his gun on the tiger? 

Officers typically aren’t trained to handle situations involving these apex predators here in the U.S., where such animals are not native.

Law enforcement officials are tasked to protect the public when an animal is on the loose. This means doing whatever possible to keep people safe. 

What about tranquilizing the animal? 

Sedating an animal is actually a tricky process. When sedating for medical procedures at TCWR, we have to match the dosage to the animal’s weight and wait for ideal temperatures to actually perform the sedation. If an officer decides to tranq the animal, it could still prove fatal to the tiger or lion because there is no way to get a proper weight or control the temperature in such random situations. If too much sedation is used, the animal will overdose. If it’s too cold out, the animal’s organs will shut down. 

Another barrier to tranquilizing in these situations involves the amount of adrenaline the animal is producing. If the animal is stressed, it will metabolize the sedation at a rapid rate. Its stress might come from the unfamiliar situation the animal finds itself in (being outdoors for the first time, hearing traffic, the commotion it senses). This rapid metabolization will also occur if the animal has attacked any “prey.” Once again, this could result in the animal’s demise from a tranq overdose. 

This leads us into a discussion of the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 263). Why do we need to regulate the private ownership of these animals? 

Danger to the Public

“Ramos had no idea a man charged with murder was living next door to him in this family-friendly community — and with a tiger, no less.” 

This quote, in which Joe Ramos expressed his shock, can be found in one of the earlier news pieces about the tiger roaming the Houston, TX, neighborhood. (It should be noted that Ramos’s next-door neighbor in question, Victor Hugo Cuevas, is allegedly not the owner of the tiger.) 

You’ve likely observed us getting stalked and pounced at through the fence when turning our backs to a big cat. It’s a natural instinct. The way they hunt and even “play” is dangerous. Imagine living in a family-friendly community, letting your children out to play then having them attacked by an apex predator. Imagine taking a stroll to your mailbox and getting mauled by a tiger. It sounds bizarre and like the plot of a bad movie, but the truly bizarre thing is how easily it could happen. 

Danger to Law Enforcement/ First Responders

With animal attacks, law enforcement and EMTs need to access the injured/dead person. The fact that someone has to respond to this incident is now putting more people at risk. The situation is even more complicated if the attack happens inside a home. In this case, it can be hard for first responders to visualize what is happening before they enter and even harder to tranquilize the animal. How will they get to the victim? How will they do it safely? 

Danger to the Animal

Tigers are predators. It’s unfair to force them to be anything but that. By privately owning these animals, people are putting them in a situation where following their natural instincts can be a death sentence. If you haven’t yet, please read the section titled “Why would the off-duty officer pull his gun on the tiger?” for an explanation of why sedation doesn’t always work. 

How will sanctuaries handle the influx of animals if the Big Cat Public Safety Act Passes?

The Big Cat Public Safety Act is not removing animals from anyone’s care. People who currently own big cats will be grandfathered in. The current legislation would only ban cub-petting. At no point has the law mandated the removal of animals from their current owners, as long as they meet the minimum requirements for their animal’s care and housing. 

How will law enforcement handle owners who turn their animals loose if the bill passes? 

The answer to this question applies to the answer above. While there have been incidents of people turning wild animals loose out of anger, anyone who does this would do so regardless of the bill passing due to their own irresponsibility and selfishness. 

How can you help?




April Snow Showers Bring May Flowers

An April Snow Isn’t the Only Surprise in Store for Our Animal Residents

April 23, 2021

If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past year, it’s to expect the unexpected! Our big cats were treated to a Spring snow shower this week. The temperatures were warm enough to keep water dishes unfrozen and doors from being stuck shut, making this a no-fuss treat for all! This wacky weather was especially welcome after the last weather event that blew down two trees in Tigger and Floyd’s habitat and damaged our billboards.

While tigers are typically the most excited for winter-like weather, the lions and bears chose to check it out this time. They must have thought we were gifting them extra enrichment! The day was full of stalking, pouncing, digging, rolling, and sniffing at the chilly flakes.

Some puzzled glances were thrown our way by water-loving tigers, who know this is typically the time of year we start filling up pools. They seemed to think we made a serious error on the enrichment schedule! We’re hoping they’ll forgive us once they realize the special, surprise project we’re working on:

In-ground pools for all!

We will soon begin putting permanent pools in each habitat. This exciting project is something we’ve been working towards for years, with a few habitats already containing one. Now, in celebration of our 29th anniversary helping exotic animals in need, we are making it our goal!

By joining us for our Paws-In-Pools 29th Anniversary Online Auction April 30 – May 2, you can help us with this project while getting your paws on some unique items. All funds raised during this auction can support special summer projects, like our pools, as well as the care of our current animal residents and upcoming rescues.

Bidding opens at 8 AM Friday, April 30, and ends May 2 at 8 PM. You can get a sneak peek at our inventory here, where new items are being added almost daily. A simple way to paw-ticipate in the meantime is by going to our Facebook event, clicking “interested,” and inviting someone you know who may be interested.

There have been lots of paws in snowfall this year, but we’re excited to see some paws in pools!

Storm Warning

Fallen Trees & Safety

April 15, 2021


Two trees fell in Tigger and Floyd’s habitat Friday after a sudden storm blew through. Amid stinging rain and gusting winds, a radio call went out regarding the incident. Thankfully, there was no harm done to our animal residents nor was there a risk of an escape. 

Animal Care Team Member and Commissary Manager, Meg, was the first on the scene of the incident. She found Floyd, a normally nervous tiger, blissfully unaware of the event as he relaxed in his night house area. Tigger, a Golden Tabby Tiger who is always ready to play, was excited about the two trees he was “gifted,” assuming they were giant enrichment items given to him for being such a good boy. Per protocol, Meg immediately radioed other team members regarding the situation, including a quick assessment of the well-being of the tigers and the damage. 

Tigger and Floyd were easily shifted into their night house area so team members could address the damage. Our secondary perimeter fence took the brunt of the trees’ weight. Some fencing was bent, but our team worked over the weekend to repair it, putting up new wire and attending to the damaged perimeter. 

Because of our many accreditations, we are held to the highest of standards regarding not just animal care, but also safety and fencing. This situation could have had a very different outcome were we not. In addition to our normal guidelines, we have a specific protocol in place when there is a risk of storms. We continuously keep a close eye on the weather radar and have extra material on hand in case of damages requiring immediate attention. We always feed our animal residents in their night house area; this encourages them to shift inside when needed. Their night houses are made of strong concrete, which keeps them safe from damaging winds and lightning. It’s also where we lock them when there is damage to their habitats that need immediate attention. Because Tigger and Floyd associate their night house with food and treats, it was easy to quickly get them inside so we could fix their habitat. 

We have participated in many rescues in the almost-29-years Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been in existence. The “enclosures” we have found in people’s backyards, road-side zoos, and pseudo-sanctuaries were concerning enough that we often feared for our safety. There are big cats in the U.S. right now, living in dilapidated, unsturdy structures, which is both a cruelness to the animal, but also a safety threat to the public. This is why we’re asking you to support H.R. 263: The Big Cat Public Safety Act. The current bill is the first step in demanding a higher-quality-of-life for big cats in captivity, as well as safer standards to protect first responders, law enforcement officials, and the general public. By visiting our website, you can not only learn important information about the legislation in order to have productive conversations about big cat and public safety, but you can also send an email directly to your representatives asking for their support. 


We’re Not in Kansas (er, Texas?) Anymore!

Support Animals Like Ce’Ce’ & JJ During NWA Gives Day!

April 1, 2021

Two of our newest residents, Ce’ Ce’ & JJ, a sibling pair of African Servals, are adjusting nicely to  their new forever home at TCWR. Relinquished by their previous owner due to COVID  related changes back in February, they are just now beginning to feel comfortable with their new lives at the Refuge. Both are  in fairly good health, aside from the expected  degenerative bone disease commonly seen when kits or cubs are prematurely separated from  nursing mothers. Declawing also frequently results in degenerative bone issues, which this pair  was subjected to as well.   

A visual exam of both animals determined their senses of sight, hearing, and smell to be intact,  with eyes clear and bright and ears and sinuses free of infections and obstructions. Incisors,  canines, and first bottom premolars also appeared healthy and unremarkable. Dr. Kellyn  Sweeley, staff Veterinarian, noted that their coats appeared to be in good condition as well, with  no observable lacerations, abrasions or masses present, at least from the cursory exam she was  able to perform upon their arrival. More extensive, in-depth medical examinations including x rays to assess skeletal conditions, will be performed after the animals have been given sufficient  time to adjust to their new surroundings. Both animals are progressing slowly but steadily  toward that goal, with JJ, the female, taking the lead.  

Initially neither were observed venturing out of their night-house except under full cover of  darkness. In recent days however, JJ has graced team members with her appearance more and more,  albeit in brief increments. In time, we expect to see her less adventurous litter mate follow her  lead. JJ’s higher level of curiosity regarding her environment may be due – at least in part, to a prior escape from her previous owner, which allowed her to experience a full 3 days of complete  freedom from her small enclosure.  

Current transitional dietary plans for the two provide for a slow introduction of assorted raw  meats in order to avoid any digestive disturbances. Later introductions will include vitamin and  mineral supplements and the possibility of bones, but only after an in-depth determination has  been made regarding the overall health of the animals’ digestive tracks. Additional supplements  required may also include calcium and glucosamine/chondroitin & fish oil, should their bone  health warrant it.  

One way you can provide for the needs of these two beautiful animals, as well as other precious  members of our facility, is to participate during the upcoming NWA  Gives Day, April 8th,  2021! Not only would you be providing loving support for your favorite special friend or friends, 

but you would allow us to demonstrate our appreciation for YOU… for making a difference in the  lives of our animals! Prizes and appreciation awards will range from park passes and gift shop  merchandise, to original paw print art give aways, and a free night’s stay in our exclusive on-site  lodging! Festivities will take place in person at our facility, as well as on-line, from 8:00 a.m. to  8:00 p.m., with live on-air broadcasts, and more! So don’t miss out! Mark your calendar now, for  this fun-filled day of celebration and festivities. See ya’ then!       

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!