Time Marches On

Planning Ahead For Your Spring Break With TCWR

February 18, 2020

As February wraps up and March quickly approaches, we remind our supporters to plan ahead if you wish to spend your spring break at the Refuge. Not only are the animals more active in the cooler spring months, but we also have new residents to meet, events to attend, and plenty of kid friendly activities to enjoy! Spending an hour, day, weekend, or week at the Refuge is the ‘purrfect’ way to celebrate spring!

Mark your calendars, we have changes and upcoming events you should keep in mind when making your upcoming seasonal plans.

On March 1, 2020, Ticket prices rise $5 per ticket (Adults $25, Teens (13-19) $20, Kids (4-12)/Seniors (65+)/Military -$15, children under 3 still free). If you are already making your plans, you can still purchase any time tickets online for the current prices and use them when you come to visit, they will still be valid! This is a great way to save a little money on your upcoming trip.

March 8, 2020, will be the first day of our summer hours. We will be open from 9 am until 6 pm with tours running every hour on the hour from 10 am until 4 pm. Taking a tour is a great way to meet our newest residents, who live on our tour path. You can also sign up for one of our behind the scenes tours. The Carnivore Caravan tour is now offered every day of the week for $100 a person (which includes general entry), and our Coffee with the Curator tours are now offered every single Saturday! These are great ways to see all the animals at the Refuge and get a private tour by one of our highly trained animal caretakers. Learn more and book today at tcwr.org/visit-us/exclusive-tours/.

March 23, 25, and 27, your children ages 6-12 can participate in an educational Fun Day at Turpentine Creek! Cost for our Fun Days is $30 per child and pre-registration is required. It is a wonderful way to celebrate spring break and help your children learn more about the amazing animals that call Turpentine Creek home! Registration is now open at tcwr.org/kidscamp. If you want to stay on-property while your children participate, we suggest booking a room now before they are full!

Spend a beautiful day at the Refuge during our annual Kite Festival, which will be held on March 28 from 10 am until 4 pm. Fly a kite with your family in our front event field. You can participate in Kite Festival for free, but if you want to visit with the animals you have to pay regular admission prices. This family-friendly event is a great way to enjoy a beautiful spring day at the Refuge. Make a kite with your kids, enjoy one of the many vendors, listen to music, and spend time in the great outdoors!

Spring is also a wonderful time to get creative in supporting the Refuge- especially if you want to help our mission but can’t donate money. You could open a lemonade stand, host a rummage sale, or even organize a 5K or “fun run” to support our animal residents. These activities are great ways to participate in the 2020 pledge through our campaign, 2020 Vision: Your Focus, Their Future!

And finally, if you are wanting to make your spring break a volunteer vacation we still have some space available for volunteer groups during spring break! Reach out to our volunteer coordinator Carly@tcwr.org to schedule your group today and make a difference during your spring break vacation!

Love Is In The Air

Spring Is Coming

February 12, 2020

Valentine’s Day is Friday and love is in the air! This romance includes native U.S. wildlife, like bobcats and cougars. Although we spay or neuter our animals to prevent breeding, their wild cousins are entering mating season. When breeding season is in full swing, animals who are usually solitary, like cats, become more social. This socialization increases the chance for them to be sighted more frequently. Just because they may be seen doesn’t mean they are a threat; they are most likely just looking for a mate. Depending on the species, there are certain mating behaviors that occur. Once mating is over, the animals go back into hiding to start preparing for their babies to be born.

At Turpentine Creek, we spay our female cougars to prevent wild suiters from entering our property. Female cougars will call out to males, when in heat. This sound can travel for miles. It sounds a lot like a woman screaming at the top of her lungs and can be very unnerving to hear. For our safety, and peace of mind, it is better to spay our female cougars than to let them go into heat every year.

In the upcoming months, while outdoors, you might see some of these cute cat-like babies, such as bobcat and cougar kittens, “hiding” in bushes or tall grass.

If you see them, do not touch them or move them. It is very likely that their mom only left for a short time to hunt or forage and will be back soon to get them! They may also be heard from a distance yowling. Though they may sound distressed, do not go closer to them! They are calling for their mom and if people are near she will not return, leaving her babies alone even longer. Interfering with kittens of wild cats can end up hurting them in the long run, especially if they get used to people being around.

As the season of love ends, young wildlife will start appearing. Though they are cute, they are still wild animals who play an important role in the environment.

Click Here To Learn More About Mountain Lions

Click Here To Learn More About Bobcats

Saving Lives With Help From Our Friends

Rescuing Luna and Remington Took Teamwork

January 28, 2019

The magnitude of the Big Cat Trade can seem overwhelming at times. With the Trade’s network reaching corners that likely aren’t even on anyone’s radar yet and the vast number of “scam-suaries,” pay-to-play schemes, circuses, and roadside zoos outweighing the number of true sanctuaries and ethical organizations, we need all the help we can get in the fight for the future of big cats. Thankfully, these animals don’t have to rely on a single person or entity to be saved. They have supporters from all over the world banding together to stop the abuse, neglect, and exploitation they face. In the rescue of Luna and Remington, we were reminded that no matter how relentless the battle may seem, we do not have to go it alone.

Luna and Remington are two white tigers who have been waiting to come home to Turpentine Creek since 2016. Their road to freedom began with People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filing a lawsuit against Dade City Wild Things (DCWT) alleging the pay-to-play business violated the Endangered Species Act by warehousing tigers in small cages and prematurely separating cubs from their mothers. Dade City was known for its popular, “swim-with-the-tigers” attraction, which forced cubs to spend hours swimming with people past the point of exhaustion, chlorination stinging their sensitive eyes. Meanwhile, DCWT earned a nice profit.

DCWT illegally relocated the tigers to another shady operation in 2017 to avoid PETA’s court-ordered inspection of their facility, resulting in the deaths of 5 tigers, two of which named Rory and Raja, were supposed to be rescued by TCWR. The three other tigers that died were cubs who overheated at birth during transport as DCWT smuggled them to Oklahoma in an inadequately ventilated trailer. DCWT’s entire history with tigers was despicable, and as the court battle droned on and on, we sat waiting to be given the clear to swoop in and bring Luna and Remington home.

Since we do not have the legal authority to confiscate animals, another organization must make the first move. As we sat with our hands tied, PETA was battling it out in the courts with DCWT. Finally, in January of this year, we were able to make the drive to Florida to pick up our newest animal residents.

We knew to make the out-of-state trip would cost money and staff; not only was the drive long, but it was going to take multiple pairs of hands to safely execute the rescue. With a relatively small team taking care of our 90 plus animals back at the Refuge, being short even by a small amount of staff is sorely felt. Thankfully, we have a network of trusted wildlife warriors to reach out to in times of need. PETA covered the cost of transporting Luna and Remington from Florida (which also means all funds raised in their honor can go directly to their lifetime care) and through the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, we were able to connect with Forest Animal Rescue (FAR) in Florida, whose team members and volunteers selflessly offered their time at no cost to us in order to smoothly move Luna and Remington from their small cages at the rescue site to the transport trailer.

We have worked with our friends at FAR in the past. During the Colorado Rescue of 2016, which is a prime example of an undertaking that required teamwork from across the country, a portion of the 115 animals who were squeezed into the 12 acres of the pseudo-sanctuary/cub-petting operation found their forever homes with FAR. In fact, the Colorado Project, which required multiple reputable sanctuaries to come together in order to facilitate the largest exotic animal rescue in U.S. history, spurred the creation of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance. Members of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance have come through for one another, multiple times since then to rescue animals and are continuously working together behind-the-scenes, making plans for the betterment of the future of big cats.

We were actually able to stop by and say “hello,” to yet another member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, Big Cat Rescue (BCR). This organization also gave sanctuary to animals from the Colorado Rescue. In fact, we had the pleasure of seeing Priya the tiger, the mother of TCWR animal residents, Poncho and Montana, on our visit. With the horrors that meet our eyes when we are away from TCWR, our place of peace, during rescues, it’s refreshing to take a moment to visit facilities like BCR and FAR to revel in the wonderful work they are doing and exceptional care they are providing to survivors of the Big Cat Trade. It’s a positive reminder that TCWR is not in this fight alone.

Luna and Remington lost no time in discovering the joys of a large grass habitat at the Refuge. They are assaulting team members with an endless flood of “chuffs” and cheerful groans. Professionally-speaking, both are acting like complete goofballs: they roll on their backs and get distracted by a leaf-covered limb which spurs them to gnaw on it before realizing it tastes weird then getting distracted by the barrel lying across their habitat, the perfect unsuspecting prey, but on their way to take it down for the kill, they get distracted by a log and go to dig their claws in but halfway through that task, something else catches their eye and so on… It is hilarious and heartwarming because, for the first time, they are allowed to create their own schedule and choose what to do next and, well, they want to do everything! It’s as if they are reliving the cubhood they never got to have.

We want to thank PETA and FAR for working with us to give Remington and Luna the life they deserve. We also want to remind everyone to choose #EthicalTourism. FAR and BCR are the direct opposite of organizations like DCWT. You can find information on them and other BCSA-approved refuges at https://www.bigcatalliance.org/our-members/. Perhaps make it your goal to visit each one that is open to the public! 

Now we turn to you, our dear friends. Please help us feed our two new hungry mouths and provide all the toys they can get their child-like paws on. You can make a donation directly at tcwr.org/donate or be the first to adopt and sponsor Remington and Luna at tcwr.org/adoptions-sponsorship.

Springing Into 2020

Big Changes Coming This Year At TCWR

January 22, 2020

Due to popular demand, we now offer Carnivore Caravan tours every day of the week. You can book a Carnivore Caravan tour for you and up to four friends for only $100 each to get a private look at what goes on behind-the-scenes at the Refuge! Take a trip down to see your favorite animal at Rescue Ridge or visit our new bear habitats. These exclusive tours are a great way to support our mission and see parts of the Refuge that are usually off-limits to the public.

We have begun planning our annual Cats at the Castle event and tickets are now available for purchase! Space is limited so make sure to purchase yours before its too late! This year’s event will take place Saturday, April 18, at the beautiful Castle Rogue’s Manor with the theme, “Roaring Twenties.” We encourage our attendees to dress in themed outfits! It will be a fun evening of fundraising for the Refuge. Learn more and reserve your spot at TCWR.org/cats-at-the-castle.

We would like to also let our supporters know that as of March 1st , admission prices will be raising by $5 for each ticket. Pricing will be $25 for adults (ages 20+), $20 for teenagers (ages 13-19), $15 for kids (ages 4-12), Seniors (ages 65+), and military; children under 3 are still free. This raise in entry fees reflects the higher costs of caring for the animals that call our Refuge home, as well as costs to run and maintain our facility. To make sure 100% of all donations go towards the animals, we use admission, lodging, and other non-donation sources of revenue to pay non-animal related expenses. Tickets purchased through our online ticketing system before March 1st at current prices will be honored beyond the March 1st pricing change.

We look forward to what other changes and improvements will come around in 2020. Thank you for being part of our growth and supporting our 2020 Vision. Please stay tuned because we have some big announcements on rescues coming in the next week!

Big Cat Callouts

Gifts That Make A Difference

January 15, 2020

Turpentine Creek is always looking for ways to improve the lives of our animal residents and create fun ways for our supporters to help them. Over the years, we have had multiple requests for personalized enrichment to send messages. In the past, we’ve accommodated those requests as much as possible, typically presented when people come to visit. But we’ve also had requests for remote enrichment.

To fulfill these requests we came up with Big Cat Callouts, personalized enrichment given to certain animals! These fun messages are usually painted on boxes and given to animals approved for box enrichment. The non-toxic paint entices the animals and creates a fun and memorable way to send a message!

The program was tentatively created a few years ago but was fully launched this past December. So far, feedback from our supporters has been amazing! Everyone loves seeing the animals enjoy enrichment. We offer different options for the messages to be delivered: in-person, Youtube video link, or live via Facebook.

The “cost” of the Big Cat Callouts ranges from $100 to $150 depending on how the callout is delivered, but all that money is put right back into the enrichment fund!

So, not only is your callout providing enrichment for your chosen animals, but it helps fund enrichment for ALL who call the Refuge home! You can make your birthday wishes, proposals, congratulations, and so much more extra special through our Big Cat Callout program!

Does a Big Cat Callout sound like something you want to do? Head over to our new Big Cat Callout page and put in your request!

*We will do our best to accommodate your request but please be aware dates or animals might not be available. Some of our animals are on enrichment restrictions, but we will email you to confirm the Big Cat Callout request and let you know if anything needs to be changed.

Cool Cats AT TCWR

Visiting “Off” Season

January 7, 2019

Brisk winter air might not be your ideal time to play outside, but tigers are thrilled about the dropping temperatures and winter weather. Their thick fur coats help them stay warm, making them extra active during the cooler months. It might be worth it to pull out your heavy seasonal gear and stop in for a visit; this is a fun and unique time to take a tour at Turpentine Creek!

When visiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge throughout the year, you will see all of our animal residents enjoying their habitats in different ways. Each season at TCWR brings a new view of the cats and a new experience at the Refuge.

This time of year, our animal residents can be found running around their habitat and attacking their enrichment toys, laying with their stomachs up in the sunshine on a cold day, or just sitting on top of their habitat benches observing all the many activities going. All of the animals that call the Refuge home react to the chilly weather a little differently. The bears sleep a little more and eat less during the cooler months, so they tend to hang out in their night houses and dens. The African Servals will often be seen hanging out just outside their building but close enough to the door to run in and grab some heat if it gets too icy out.

Not only is it a great time to come out and see the cats during the winter season, but we also continue to offer additional educational activities for our visitors. Our educational programming will take place during the weekends throughout Winter and includes various topics about the animal species that call TCWR home, discovering how we can all be the voice for wildlife everywhere, and much more. We still offer guided tours every hour on the hour daily plan a visit, book a stay, and make sure to wear your warmest coat, gloves, and hat!

Whether you visit Turpentine Creek in the Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter, every day is a new and wonderful day to see the animals that call the Refuge home.

The 2020 Pledge

Join TCWR In Focusing Our Talents To Create A Better Future

January 1, 2020

2020 is officially here! Can you believe that we have pounced into a new decade already? The Roaring 20’s have come back around and Turpentine Creek is determined to use this time to end the Big Cat Trade in the United States.  We need your help to accomplish this goal! This year, we are inviting our supporters to join our 2020 Vision: Your Focus. Their Future. year-long campaign. We want you to utilize your talents, passions, voice, and focus to help us create a better future for all the big cats in the USA.

We are asking all of our supporters to join us in pledging that in 2020 we will make a difference! This is the year of action, change, and new beginnings! With your help, we will see the end of the Big Cat Trade! A small step and simple actions will quickly grow into a movement that will demand change by our government! We ask you to pledge to take ten simple actions in 2020 to spread awareness and make a change!

We ask all our supporters to visit https://turpentinecreek.salsalabs.org/2020visionpledge and take the pledge in 2020! We need you to focus your talents to complete ten simple steps to help us accomplish our 2020 Vision.

In 2020 I pledge to:

  1. Share at least 1 post of Turpentine Creek’s
  2. Tell at least 1 friend about why big cats make bad pets
  3. Educate at least 1 person about what a True Sanctuary is
  4. Create at least 1 social fundraiser to help raise funds to save big cats
  5. Make at least 1 post to share why I support facilities like Turpentine Creek and what they do
  6. Volunteer at least 1 hour of my time helping to raise awareness about big cats in captivity (digitally, in person, or at a facility)
  7. Find at least 1 way to utilize my own personal talents to benefit big cats in captivity
  8. Recruit at least 1 person to help the Big Cat cause
  9. Send at least 1 email to my federal government representatives to inform them about the plight of big cats in captivity
  10. Respond to at least 1 social post telling others why I support Turpentine Creek

These ten simple steps will help spread awareness and start creating change! We are excited to see just what this year will bring! Will you take the pledge to help Turpentine Creek end the Big Cat Trade?

Take The Pledge Today!

Christmas Tree Enrichment

A Big Cat Christmas Treat

December 24, 2019

Christmas is not quite over at Turpentine Creek, it’s actually just beginning! As Christmas trees start to come down in houses, they start going up in our animal residents’ habitats. Most Christmas trees end up in landfills once they are no longer useful as holiday decorations in our homes. But these beautiful trees can still serve a purpose, at Turpentine Creek, Christmas trees become wonderful, environmental, enrichment for our big cat residents!

It is important to provide a variety of enrichment to keep the animals happy and active. Utilizing seasonal enrichment helps to keep our animals entertained throughout the year! These Christmas trees are beneficial to our cats for a wide variety of reasons! 

We typically only get Christmas tree donations once a year, so it is a rare treat for us to give our animals these fun scented treats. The trees are especially interesting to the animals because they have a new smell and texture that will encourage them to get active and play. The fresh smell of pine is inviting for the animals to sniff, bite and even scratch their claws on.

As the trees sit in the habitats, they also can be used as a new hiding spot for TCWR residents. The cats love having a place to stay hidden while they stalk but, sometimes, the tree becomes the one being stalked! Also, the bristly texture of the pine needles is just the thing to scratch the itches that the cats can’t reach!

As you wrap up this Christmas season, instead of throwing out your Christmas tree, think about donating to give the animals at Turpentine Creek a new toy! Locals can bring Live Christmas trees to Turpentine Creek with all decorations removed (especially tensile, it is bad for the cats) during normal business hours. We do not accept decorated trees or fake trees, as the animals cannot have them. 

First Snowfall of 2019

“Do Big Cats Like The Cold?”

December 17, 2019

SNOW! Monday evening, the Refuge was graced with the start of a lovely winter wonderland. A thin layer of white snow spread across the grounds, ice hung on trees and fence panels, water dishes contained a thin layer of ice, and the cats were eagerly awaiting a chance to play in the snow!

People often ask “Do your big cats like the cold weather?” The answer is yes! The majority of our animals love cooler weather. Of course, there are exceptions, lions and servals are African cats and prefer to spend the colder days cuddling in their heated dens. Tigers and native animals like bobcats and mountain lions are adapted for the cooler weather. They grow thick fur coats during the winter to insulate them. Our cats love to frolic and play in the cold weather and snowfall gives us the opportunity to create seasonal enrichment for them.

Our cats get to enjoy the snow when we get enough, team members find ways to include it in enrichment: snowmen (or cats), snow piles with enrichment hidden underneath, and snow forts. It has been a few years since we had a snowfall heavy enough to really incorporate it into our enrichment program, but we wouldn’t mind a nice heavy snowfall that we can use to enrich the lives of our animal residents.

So, why not plan to spend a lovely winter’s day enjoying the Refuge? This is one of the best times of year to come! Next time you are trying to think of how to spend your day off, bundle up in your winter gear and come to spend some time with the animals. We are open every day of the year except for Christmas. They don’t mind a little winter weather, do you?

We may suspend tours due to inclement weather, so please check road conditions before you come, if the roads are icy we will probably not be offering tours that day. 

The US Has A Tiger Problem

The American “Generic” Tiger

December 10, 2019

The demand for tigers as a source of entertainment and being kept in private ownership is deterring from the reality of the very possible extinction of wild tigers in the near future. Approximately 95% of captive tigers are privately owned and have no conservation or genetic value. They have been cross-bred between different subspecies, diluting their genetics, and carries a negative implication for animal welfare and species conservation efforts.

Breeding tigers is not consistently regulated in private hands, many generic tigers also suffer health issues due to inbreeding and over-breeding practices. The purpose is to have as many babies as possible, and not to ensure that the genetics are preserved or animal welfare is a priority.

Currently, there are over 5,000 privately owned tigers in the United States, while only ~ 3,800 wild tigers remain between 5 different subspecies. Many private owners, menageries, and roadside zoos also breed for traits that are not naturally found in the wild, such as white tigers, causing debilitating health issues from inbreeding.

As a legitimate captive breeding and conservation program, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is an accrediting organization that over 200 true zoos have obtained to ensure the highest standards of animal care, education, scientific research, and conservation. They follow strict and regulated guidelines for their breeding programs to ensure that genetics are pure and that endangered species being bred for conservation purposes to maximize genetic diversity for the Amur (Siberian), Malayan, and Sumatran tiger subspecies in their Species Survival Plan. AZA zoos currently have 269 tigers within their breeding programs.

It is vital that take action now to prevent further abuse and neglect of big cats, and only support facilities that are focused on animal welfare, education, and conservation. As an individual, you can make a difference by choosing to support true zoos and sanctuaries, who are not exploiting this magnificent species.

How You Can Help:

  • Join us to advocate for the Big Cat Public Safety Act to end private ownership and cub petting in the United States. With stricter laws, the focus can shift on protecting tigers and their wild counterparts.
  • Visit our: How You Can Help Page to learn more about how your choices make an impact.
  • Visit true sanctuaries like TCWR, that rescue abused and neglected privately owned tigers, and provide them with a life they deserve.
  • Do your research before you visit any facility that exhibits animals to the public.
  • Do not visit places that allow interaction with big cats, breeding outside of AZA regulated zoo facilities, and allow cub petting and photo opportunities.


Association of Zoos & Aquariums. (n.d). Tiger Conservation. Retrieved from https://www.aza.org/tiger-conservation.

World Wildlife Fund. Winter 2016. Captive Tigers in the US. Retrieved from https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/winter-2016/articles/captive-tigers-in-the-us.