You, Us, and Them

How True Sanctuaries Are Working Together To End The Big Cat Trade

September 17, 2019

2018 BCSA Conference At TCWR

Several Turpentine Creek team members have been attending the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA) Conference this week. All members of the BCSA are working towards a unified goal: a future where sanctuaries (like Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge) are no longer needed because private ownership and the commercial exploitation of big cats have been ended. Though “true” sanctuaries and ethical establishments upholding the highest standards of care for big cats are outnumbered by the population of roadside zoos, traveling shows, and inhumane breeding facilities, we are not discouraged. By working together, we know we can build a brighter future for big cats.

The sheer number of shoddy facilities operating under the guise of “pay-to-play” establishments or even falsely using the word “sanctuary” in their name despite being nothing but tiger mills is one of many reasons why the need for an organization like the BCSA is more crucial now than ever before. For decades, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has networked and created connections with a number of ethical animal welfare organizations. Those connections truly came through in 2016 when we were tasked with rescuing and rehoming 115 animals from an animal exhibitor park in Colorado. The animals were living in squalor, many were sick and injured, and all were under immense psychological strife. We had to save them, but how? We simply did not have room for over 100 new animal residents. Enter more True Sanctuary All-Stars.

Over the course of 6 months, all animals were rehomed to reputable refuges, with 34 coming to our own. What would have happened to the other animals if we absolutely could not take them and there were no other true sanctuaries in existence? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out. However, as the Exotic Pet Trade’s network continues to grow, the issue of space is always in our thoughts. Right now, we are confident we can work with members of the BCSA and other true sanctuaries should another large undertaking like the Colorado Rescue occur, but we hope we never see the day when the supply of sanctuary and it’s demand become unbalanced. The only way to ensure that day never comes is by ending the Trade, which is just another thing true sanctuaries are working together to do.

In a joint effort, we are educating the public about the many challenges big cats are facing at the hands of the Trade, both in captivity and in the wild. By combining forces, we are able to reach more people than ever and build a team of passionate citizens to advocate for big cats. From supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act to spreading awareness about the difference between a real sanctuary and a “scam-suary,” we rely on people like you as our allies.  Here are some ways you can team up with Turpentine Creek and the BCSA to make an impact:

Do you have any other tips on working together to spark change for big cats? If so, feel free to add to the conversation on Twitter (@turpentinecreek) or in our Facebook Group (@TurpentineCreekWildlifeRefugeGroup).

Feline Fall Fun

As Temps Cool Big Cats Grow More Active

September 10, 2019

Summers at TCWR are always busy with our daily visitors, day camps, private group tours, and many other events. Visitors enjoy observing the animals splashing around in their pools and enjoying their cool summer treats such as meatcicles. As the Summer season comes to an end and we prepare for the cool crisp air of Fall, we will continue to offer additional educational opportunities to everyone that visits TCWR. Whether it is our daily tours, special educational activities, keeper talks, or workshops there is something for everyone at the refuge.

The Fall is a special time of year for us here at the refuge for multiple reasons, such as the kick-off of our school group season. We love helping the youth of today discover how they can help animals now and in the future. TCWR hosts school groups not only from the Northwest Arkansas area, but from districts in other regions of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We also conduct classroom visits via Skype to schools in further areas of the United States and around the world that cannot make it out to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. So when visiting the Refuge, you might see groups of bright-eyed children discovering how to become young wildlife advocates.

Fall not only brings cool crisp air for our animal residents and visitors to enjoy, it also brings the season for pumpkins. All of our animals love to play with their pumpkin enrichment, the cats love smashing them while others such as our bears enjoy eating them. While visiting TCWR this Fall, if you have any pumpkins that you would like to donate, our animals would love to have them as a new seasonal toy. The Fall season also means that our Annual Spooktacular family-friendly event is just around the corner. This is the one night a year that visitors can come out and enjoy seeing the cats at night as we take you on a hayride around our tour loop. We invite you to join us on Oct. 25th for this year’s Spooktacular and to visit our website for more details on the event and how you can get involved.

Whether you are visiting with your family or your child is on a field trip to TCWR, the Fall offers many different ways to see our cats enjoying the cooler weather and provides unique opportunities for you to get involved.  Fall is the perfect time to spend a day at the Refuge, plan your next visit today!

What About The Animals?

When A Facility Closes, Where Do The Animals Go?

September 4, 2019

With multiple facilities shutting down in recent weeks, we have gotten a lot of questions about why this might happen. As we prepare for the possibility of being called into action for our next rescue effort, we have been looking back at our past rescues and why we were called to help. There is a laundry list of things that can cause an animal establishment to close. Natural disasters, such as fires and storms, financial difficulties, illness of the owner, and court-ordered seizures of animals due to allegations of cruelty are just a few. We discussed some of these reasons in a previous blog post.  Once a facility ceases operations, the fate of its animals is left hanging in the air. There is always the hope that they will end up in an ethical location, but that is not always the case.

A legal shutdown typically involves state and local authorities. They may conduct a court-ordered seizure of the animals or, such as in the case of Wildlife Waystation in California, may act on the request of the organization to assist with rehoming the creatures. Sometimes another wildlife entity, such as our friends at Tigers in America, are also involved in coordinating rescue efforts and sending displaced animals to proper homes. We have worked with Tigers in America on a number of rescues, including the Colorado Project, during which 115 animals were sent to credible sanctuaries after a pseudo-sanctuary/cub petting operation closed its doors.

Authorities may reach out directly to a sanctuary, such was the case with our 2012 Mountainburg Rescue when the failing health of a breeding facility’s owner was creating a mounting inability to care for her nearly 30 big cats. The situation was dire, but TCWR did not have readily-available habitats at the time. Thankfully, we had a team of supporters who gave us the ability to construct 20 habitats in 128 days to accommodate the flood of new animal residents in need. This, however, brings to light a heart-sinking though: What happens if all the “good places” are full?

With lax laws and little governing, the Exotic Pet Trade only continues to grow. The number of roadside zoos, pay-to-play schemes, and breeding operations far outweighs the number of true sanctuaries. Sometimes, when one of these places quietly closes its doors without legal intervention, the animals are simply sold or shipped off to another shoddy operation to be exploited. In other cases, the animals may be illegally euthanized. During the Quitman Rescue, we were able to step in before a 56-cat-breeding-population was killed by their owner when financial difficulty and escapes spurred him to give up his enterprise. Once again, this was a large number of big cats that needed a home. We were able to reach out to Tiger Haven in Tennessee, who took in the ones we could not accommodate.

It is our goal to never turn away an animal in need, but sometimes, we rely on our network of true sanctuaries to provide refuge for those we are unable to take. We hope to never see the day where we don’t have the means to grasp an outstretched paw asking for help; we fear a day when the Trade has grown so massive that true sanctuaries simply cannot keep up with the demand for space for its displaced survivors. There are ways you can make sure that day never comes:

First, work with us to end the Exotic Pet Trade. H.R. 1380, The Big Cat Public Safety Act, will outlaw cub petting. We hope the loss of the high demand for readily available cubs will be the first step towards its demise. Visit tcwr.org/advocacy to gather information that you can use to educate yourself and others about this vital legislation; you can also enter your information to generate an email to your local congressman asking for their support.

Second, support true sanctuaries. We need your help today to facilitate the many rescues we are involved in every year. Also, when the Trade finally ends, it will leave a multitude of big cats searching for sanctuary. We have to be prepared for whatever comes next. Please consider becoming a monthly donor or yearly member today. Your sustainable support means we will have a steady flow of funds to rely on when we hear the next unexpected cry for help.

Save Brady’s Life

Sick Liger Getting The Help He Needs Thanks To Your Support

August 27, 2019

Brady Liger is undergoing treatment for a suspected serious fungal infection that is fatal if left unmedicated. The illness comes from inhaling microscopic fungal spores that thrive in a moist environment. When the spores are inhaled, they transform into yeast through an interaction with body temperature; that yeast can then spread throughout the bloodstream. Not everyone who encounters the spores will get sick, which is likely why Karma, Brady’s habitat mate, is showing no symptoms.

Last week, our animal care team noticed Brady displaying some odd neurological symptoms. He appeared to be having trouble seeing. He was quickly sedated for an exam that included comprehensive blood work. Brady weighed in at 554lbs, which means he needs a very large dose of the medication to treat the illness. Though findings can’t be confirmed until next week, his symptoms combined with initial examination results have lead our team to strongly believe he has the fungal infection.

Because of the importance of quick treatment, our team made the decision to begin medicating Brady while awaiting further bloodwork results. The cost of the treatment, which he will undergo for six months, is approximately $2,600. We are asking everyone to #BeThereForBrady and save his life by helping us fund this life-saving cure. Our amazing supporters rallied behind Turpentine Creek and donated over $2,600 in just over 24 hours! But we are asking our supporters to continue to help Brady by continuing your support and spreading the word about Brady’s fight. Donations can be made in the following ways:

  • Via Paypal
  • Via our website (please note that the donation is for “Brady”)
  • By mailing a check or bringing an in-person donation to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, 239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs, AR, 72632
  • By creating a Facebook fundraiser
  • By using the “donate” sticker on Instagram stories

If you cannot donate, we ask that you help #GetBradyBetter by sharing our social media posts and other information with your family and friends.

Brady is only 10 years old and has been in excellent health until now. He and Karma were 18-months-old when they were rescued from a facility in Missouri. The pair are very close. Karma has demonstrated her concern for Brady during his sedations and seems ready to have her co-enrichment-killer back in action. For us, the thought of losing a beloved feline (especially one so young) is completely heartbreaking, but for Karma, it would be life-altering.

Right now, we are choosing to focus on what we know. We know Brady is ill, and we know he needs treatment. We also know that because of you, he can beat this. In just over 24 hours you have donated over $2,600 to help us care for Brady! Join us and continue to #BeThereForBrady.

UPDATE: Sadly, despite treatment, Brady’s health continued to decline and on August 31, we had to make a quality of life decision. Brady passed away peacefully surrounded by team members who cared deeply for him.

 

The Expected and The Unexpected

What Causes Animal Establishments to Close?

August 20, 2019

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, before it held the name, was started when founders Hilda and Don Jackson rescued Bum, a lion who had been traded to an individual in lieu of a debt and was slowly withering away chained up outside with a tree as his only shelter. Some years later, they took on a larger rescue when a black-market exotic animal dealer needed to ditch her hoard of big cats while on the run from the police. Since then, the Turpentine Creek team has encountered a number of different scenarios causing animals to seek lifetime refuge with us.

When exotic animals, especially large carnivores, have no place to go, finding them a home is tricky. Pulling up to your local animal shelter with a tiger in tow is not recommended! True sanctuaries like TCWR exist as, in essence, types of specialized animal shelters. In the past, we have quite literally had owners of big cats and bears show up at our front door with these huge creatures sitting unsecured in the beds of their trucks! Other times, we have rescued from closing facilities.

What causes an establishment to close its doors can vary. Most recently, Wildlife Waystation in California announced its upcoming termination. While some news sources allege “financial and management difficulty” as a reason, all writings on the matter attribute fire and flood damage as the leading cause. The facility suffered at the flames of the state’s 2017 Creek Fire; it never truly recovered when it was hit by significant flooding in early 2019. Since then, the organization has struggled to make much-needed and mounting repairs while continuing to care for their nearly 500 animals. In early August, they agreed to allow state officials to step in and begin rehoming processes.

Like natural disasters, illness is another uncontrollable factor that can lead to an organization’s demise and the uncertain futures of hundreds of animals. The Colorado Rescue began when the cub-petting/breeding operation’s owner was battling cancer and could no longer operate the park. Thankfully, the Turpentine Team was able to team up with Tigers in America (TIA) to facilitate the rescue and rehoming of 115 animals to 15 different reputable sanctuaries, including our own. A similar situation happened in 2012, in Mountainburg, AR. when the owner of a breeding facility couldn’t care for her animals due to failing health and age. We were called in and had to build 20 habitats in 128 days, an area now known as Rescue Ridge, to accommodate the massive influx of animals needing a home on short notice. When animals are in need, Turpentine Creek steps up, with the help of our supporters, to make sure the animals have a forever home with us.

Sometimes, situations occur out of nowhere. In other instances, it seems to be only a matter of time before some places suspend operations for good. Just last week, over 100 animals were seized from Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, a roadside zoo in Virginia said to have a “history of complaints.” State and local officials began the seizures amid animal cruelty allegations. Prior to the closure, which may not be permanent, federal inspectors had written the park up on numerous occasions. Investigative efforts continue to gather information for Wilson’s Wild Animal Park’s August 29 court hearing.   

As a true sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the risk of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge’s closure due to improper care of our animal residents doesn’t exist. Hearing news of closures caused by the unforeseen, such as natural disasters and illness, makes us aware of how quickly things can take a turn for the worst, but also reminds us of how grateful we are for our supporters, like you! While we have disaster plans and plans for nearly every what-if scenario, you are the ones who truly provide security for our animal residents. Because of you, not only can we respond quickly and efficiently when animals are left homeless, but we also know that should catastrophe knock on our door, we can continue providing quality care for our Survivors of the Trade. For that, we can’t thank you enough.

Wildlife Waystation Rescue Status: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is prepared to help as needed with the rescue of the animals at this facility providing housing, transport, or both for animals in need. We do have space available for some animals currently, but distance, heat, and other facility space closer to Wildlife Waystation are determining factors in where animals will be placed.  At this time, we are just making sure we are prepared at our facility in the event that we are asked to assist with this rescue. As the rescue situation develops, we will keep our supporters updated on what we know. 

2nd Annual Sipping For Sanctuary

Join Us For a Fun-Filled Night of Fundraising

August 13, 2019

We’re just three weeks away from our second annual Sipping for Sanctuary craft beer/wine-tasting fundraiser! This year, it will be held September 5, from 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM, at the historic Apollo on Emma in Springdale, Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas is known for its rich artistic scene and unique atmosphere; it’s no wonder those attributes even translate to the region’s spirits and brews! Local vendors will be offering a variety of award-winning wine and beer for guests to sample in the atmosphere of the beautiful Apollo On Emma, which was once the Apollo Theater. The venue has been remodeled in a “classical 1940’s art deco appeal,” complete with marble and cherry wood accents, crystal chandeliers, and an air of art and elegance.

Guests can sip as the song stylings of local musician, Kurt Hunter, wafts through the air, mingling with the aroma of delectable gourmet food crafted by Catered Creations. Attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on up to 100 silent auction items, including Refuge lodging, stays at regional hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, product/service baskets, paw paintings created by TCWR’s animal residents, and local art. In addition, this event serves as a wonderful opportunity to mingle with fellow animal-lovers and conservationists who share a passion for the Refuge and making the world a better place for all creatures, two-legged and four-legged, alike.

Cocktail attire is suggested, and animal-print is encouraged! Because we support the ethical treatment of animals, we ask that guests do not wear actual animal products.

Tickets are on sale now for $55, but will be $65 day-of. Admission includes two complimentary drink tickets (3 if you are a member) that can be redeemed at any of our craft beer/wine vendors at the event. Tickets can be purchased at tcwr.org/s4s.

Those who belong to a Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge membership tier get one complimentary admission ticket. If this applies to you, please email Amanda@tcwr.org or call 479-253-5841 ext. 5 to confirm your membership and attendance. If you are interested in becoming a member, please visit tcwr.org/memberships.

We hope you will join us Thursday, September 5, for a night of Sipping for Sanctuary! All proceeds support TCWR, and we encourage you to bring a friend to introduce to our mission.

Sadie Tiger Gets A Checkup

A Visit With The Vet

August 6, 2019

At Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, we understand the importance of monitoring our animal residents’ health every day. The apex predators under our care have a natural instinct to hide injury and illness to the best of their abilities. This helps them survive in the wild because it prevents them from appearing weak, which could cause them to go from predator to prey. In captivity, however, their predisposition to cover up their maladies can be highly detrimental to their well-being. Because of this, our animal care team has to become very familiar with each animal resident and keeps a watchful eye for small changes in their behaviors that could be indicative of a problem.

Last week, animal care team members noticed Sadie tiger was not eating. For these carnivores, loss of appetite is a huge red flag. Because the team knows her well enough, they also noted that seemed to be feeling generally unwell. Sadie was promptly sedated and taken to our onsite Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital. There, staff veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweeley, performed a comprehensive exam of the tiger, which included blood work and x-rays. All tests results seemed to indicate that Sadie was suffering from constipation; she was given an enema and remained in the veterinary hospital for a few days for continued monitoring and recovery.

Sadie demonstrated improvement during her time in the hospital. Sunday, the animal care team sedated and transported her back to her habitat, where she received another enema as a precaution. Since then, she has begun regaining her vitality and is eating again. We will continue to monitor her to make sure she doesn’t regress, but so far, it looks like this there was a simple solution to her issue.

Due to their past histories, which often included poor breeding, malnourishment, and subpar healthcare, the animal residents of Turpentine tend to be under regular treatment for a slew of ailments and are at risk for many more. Things like tummy troubles and dental issues aren’t necessarily life-threatening at first, but should they be prolonged without proper care, they can lead to widespread systems damages and even death! You’ve heard us say it many times before, but prevention and early detection truly are key; that’s why we provide regular wellness exams, daily checks, and a carefully-curated regime that combines healthy diets, medicine, and enrichment for mental and physical well-being.

You can learn more about how we care for our animal residents by visiting: https://www.turpentinecreek.org/about-us/animal-care/.

The Roar Challenge

Share Your Passion

August 1, 2019

This August, we’re calling on you to take the #RoarChallenge and share your passion about the Refuge! This simple summons could win you and a friend some much-sought-after prizes.

Participation is easy; simply tell at least one person (who doesn’t already know about TCWR) about us then visit tcwr.org/roar. There, you will be asked to complete a quick form with your name and email address, along with your friend’s name and email address. For every 100 registrations, we will be giving away a paw painting to the primary entrant and two admission tickets to the person they told about us!

For a bonus entry and to help spread awareness about TCWR, you can take the virtual #RoarChallenge by showing off your best lion roar or tiger chuff in a video, uploading it to your social media pages, and sharing the link on the form at tcwr.org/roar. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #Roar4TCWR #Roar4Refuge #RoarChallenge and to tag a friend to complete the challenge next!

We are dedicating the entire month of August to gaining as many new supporters as possible, which means you will have from August 1- August 31 to enter to win. The more people we have sharing our mission, the greater chance big cats have at claiming a happier, healthier future. Please join us in expanding our network of educators, advocates, and ethical tourists.

You can start a conversation in person, or via call, text, email, or social media #RoarChallenge #Roar4TCWR #Roars4Refuge. Here are some helpful links with information about TCWR to get you started:

Kings And Queens At The Refuge

International Tiger Day

July 29, 2019

Tiger Queen Khaleesi

Tiger Queen 2019 Khaleesi

Today is International Tiger Day! Today is a day we focus on the plight of tigers around the world. To celebrate this important day, Turpentine Creek asked our supporters to help us crown the Tiger King and Queen of the Refuge! Our supporters have voted and we are happy to announce that this year’s Tiger King is Snowball and Tiger Queen is Khaleesi! Thank you to everyone who voted! Thanks to your support we raised $4,233 for our new well!

What is International Tiger Day?

Tiger King Snowball

Tiger King 2019 Snowball

International Tiger Day is a special day dedicated to celebrating the world’s largest cat species, and to raises awareness about their struggles in the wild. 47 tigers currently live at Turpentine Creek in their forever home, away from entertainment facilities and private ownership. Unfortunately, there are still around 7,000  more privately-owned tigers across the United States. We are constantly fighting at TCWR to ban private ownership and stop abuse and neglect of these magnificent creatures. Not only are they heavily exploited in captivity, but their wild counterparts are fighting for survival across Asia, with only 3,800 left in the wild.

As an apex predator, tigers have evolved to use their keen senses to catch their prey. Sight and sound are two of the most important senses for hunting. Tigers are not able to see different colors as vividly as people, but they can detect the slightest twitch of an ear or tail from their prey. They are ambush predators, quietly sneaking as close as possible to their prey without making a single sound. They do not chase their prey, rather they pounce with full force, grasping their catch with their claws and biting it in the neck for a fatal attack. They are only successful 20-30% of the time they try and hunt.

Princess Shasta 2019

1st Runner Up Tiger Queen Shasta

Tigers use their sense of smell to communicate with one another and protect their vast territory. They use scent glands all over their bodies, rubbing against or scratching trees to claim their domain, and are constantly spraying urine everywhere in their home. If they smell anything different than their scent they know what competition has been in their area, whether a potential mate or a rival.

In the 1900’s there were over 100,000 tigers in Asia, inhabiting a large natural range throughout the wild. As the human population grows and agriculture expands, they have already lost 93% of their natural habitat and their numbers have decreased to 3,800. Palm oil production is a major contributor to habitat loss for the Sumatran tigers. Losing this amount of area pushes them closer and closer to people leaving them little space to find the necessary space and food for survival, and causes human-wildlife conflict.

Runner Up Tiger King Tigger

1st Runner Up Tiger King Tigger

Tigers are sought after for their parts as many cultures believe they hold medicinal properties. Poachers kill tigers for their body parts and to sell their furs, and use their bones for a popular tiger bone wine drink in Asian medicine. They are worth more dead than they are alive. Instead of being able to roam freely, they are kept in tiger farms to supply the demand of trade. All 5 subspecies of tigers are endangered, with about 10 years left before they go extinct if we do not protect them.

With more tigers living in private ownership in the U.S. than in the wild, it is time to take action! This Tiger Day, let your state representative know you are supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act, aiming to prohibit the private ownership of big cats and ask them to support it as well. You can also support conservationist efforts across the world that are attempting to save tiger habitats but also patrolling the habitat for traps poachers have set up. You can be the voice for the tigers who are lost every day!

For more information on ways to help wild tigers visit:

Wildlife Conservation Society

World Wildlife Foundation

Project C.A.T

 

Keeping It Real

Celebrating Keepers Week at Turpentine Creek

July 24, 2019

Interns with special birthday enrichment

Animal Care Interns

There’s always something to celebrate at the Refuge! This week, we are shifting the spotlight from our brave survivors of the Exotic Pet Trade to the people who care for them in honor of AZA’s National Zoo Keeper Week (July 21-27) and National Intern Day, July 25!

Throughout the week our team members received fun treats to express how much their hard work is appreciated. The team was gifted free movie passes, a lake cookout, a lunch pizza party, a cake, and breakfast treat, all donated by some of our wonderful supporters, team members, and board members, to show the whole TCWR team just how much their dedication means to the Refuge.

Three communications ladies at Sipping for Sanctuary

The Communications/Development Team

This year’s theme for Keeper Week is “Keeping it Real: A Keeper’s Life Beyond the Dirt,” with the goal of educating the public on what animal care professionals really do. On your visit to TCWR, you may see our team of interns and staff biologists wielding shovels and hoses, trudging across the dirt paths with wheelbarrows and food trays to address the needs of our animal residents. It’s clear they work hard to keep our residents healthy, well-fed, and comfortable in clean habitats, but what is their role beyond that? You may also observe the Wildlife Interpreters on our Education Team setting up well-organized tables showcasing biological wildlife models or guiding a group of children through a cute crafts project, but what are they actually accomplishing? And what about the people you don’t see, sitting behind desks with their fingers clicking across keyboards- how are those people even related to the mission?

Team members carrying a bear

Animal Care Team Members and The Smiths

We like to use Keeper Week to introduce you to all the working parts that keep TCWR functioning. This year’s theme opens up more doors for us to do so. Our animal care team aren’t only the people on pooper-scooper duty; they are well-educated professionals with a commitment to the future of wildlife. In addition to our staff animal care professionals, we have a group of animal care interns that come here to learn how to be the best animal caretakers possible, dedicating their lives to our mission six months at a time. You don’t always see the hours the team spends planning meals according to each animal’s dietary needs, coordinating the appropriate enrichment for each individual resident, monitoring their behaviors to get ahead of any health issues that might crop up, and using this information to create a custom plan that ensures any and every need our Exotic Pet Trade survivors have is met.

Education team members and kids at day camp

Education Team and Camp Kids

Our Wildlife Interpreters are much more than the people brave enough to keep 140 school children engaged and entertained at a time. Beyond their formal education and experiences, they have been certified through the National Association for Interpretation. For them, fall and spring are full of school groups and their summer calendars are dotted with programs, day camps and workshops. They spend winter researching, modifying, and planning their schedule of programs and activities for the coming months, as well as doing off-site presentations and outreach. By spreading education and awareness in creative, engaging, emotionally-charged format, our Interpreters are turning ordinary people into advocates and educators, paving the way to a brighter future for captive and free wildlife, as well as our planet as a whole.

Lodging ladies getting ready for a day of cleaning

Lodging Department

TCWR also has important team members who do not work directly with our animal residents; this includes our maintenance staff, gift shop employees, Lodging Department, Marketing and Events Coordinator, and our Development/Communications Department. Maintenance fosters a safe, pleasant space for our guests while making sure all Refuge vehicles are functioning properly so our animal care team can travel across the hundreds of acres on property to perform their duties. They also partner with animal care to build and maintain habitats. Without them, it would be hard to keep our facility operating at GFAS standards!

Gift Shop team member and visitor

Gift Shop Team

Our gift shop employees are on the front lines; they’re the first people you meet when you visit the Refuge. This means beyond selling tickets and merchandise, they are often the first people to introduce our mission to visitors and are step one in creating advocates and ethical tourists. Our Lodging Department draws new supporters to the Refuge and creates a lasting connection with them by providing a top-notch overnight experience (due largely to our housekeeping team who adheres to high standards of cleanliness!). Our Marketing/Events Coordinator along with our Development/Communications Department raise the necessary funds to keep our animal residents in a safe, lifelong home and help communicate our mission while spreading education and awareness to a wider audience.

Marketing team member Ike

Marketing Department

We would not be where we are without our entire team, as well as the former interns who continue to carry TCWR’s mission in their hearts. Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without you, our honorary “Keepers” who support our animal residents through donations, adoptions, sponsorships, memberships, visits, advocacy, and spreading education and awareness.

Keep on “keeping it real!”