The Reality Of White Tigers

Genetic Mutations

April 3, 2018

White tigers are not albino, a different subspecies of tiger such as a snow, arctic, or Royal Bengal white tiger. There are currently no white tigers in the wild. Color morphs are typically associated with rarity and separate endangered species, which is not the case for white tigers. They possess a double recessive gene that expresses a white coat, and roughly 1/10,000 tigers have this rare allele. With only 3,820 tigers currently in the wild, it is extremely unlikely one will be born. If so, white color is a disadvantage since they do not have their camouflage, and would not survive.

In the 1950’s a Bengal white tiger cub was found in India and taken out of the wild to breed in zoos within the United States. They found that only if they bred this tiger back to his daughter, more white tigers would be born.

In order to isolate this gene, exploiters have to inbreed white tigers, meaning brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, as well as mothers and sons are bred to create white coats. By breeding together relatives, there is a greater chance that tigers will be born white and maximize profits. People pay top dollar to view white tigers and use them for entertainment, so breeders do not care about the massive amounts of health issues caused by inbreeding. Inbreeding causes extreme health issues in any breed of animal, and white tigers are no exception.

Severe inbreeding causes dangerous deleterious health issues in tigers such as abnormal external and internal conditions and characteristics. These health issues often compromise the welfare and health of the animal and result in death. It is estimated that only 1/30 white tigers that are born are aesthetically pleasing enough to survive. 29/30 cubs are born with such severe health defects that they are euthanized since they cannot be sold for profit. 80% of tigers born due to inbreeding die due to debilitating health defects.

The white tiger gene is associated with the optic nerve wiring to the opposite side of the brain, causing them to be cross eyed and have terrible vision. This disability creates a more desired animal since they become more dependent on humans to see. They suffer from clubfeet, spinal deformities, defective organs, and cleft palates. The majority of white tigers also have mental impairments, making them easier to manipulate and exploit.

White tiger mothers do not always give birth to white cubs, they can also be born orange. Only ¼ of tiger cubs are actually born white. They are considered “throw away tigers” in the trade and are killed because they are not white. The orange babies still suffer all of the health defects but are not worth any money due to the color of their coat.

The reason why white tigers are continued to be carelessly bred is that the general public will pay money to view white tigers, hold their babies, and keep them as pets. They serve no conservation value and only exist because humans think they are beautiful and are exploited for economic gain.

By choosing to not patronize facilities that breed white tigers, allow cub petting, use them for entertainment, or keep them for personal pets is the best way to protect them.

Any credible facility will not endorse the breeding of white tigers, and work to educate the world on why they exist. The American Zoological Association (AZA) banned the breeding of white tigers in 2008, and explain that intentional inbreeding causes “…abnormal, debilitating, and at times, lethal, external and internal conditions and characteristics”, outlined it the paper Welfare and Conservation Implications of Intentional Breeding for the Expression of Rare Recessive Alleles.

Please “Help Us, Help Them!” by not patronizing any entertainment or breeding facility, and speak up against big cat abuse!

Click here to support H.R. 1818 The Big Cat Public Safety Act, to create a federal law against exploiting big cats in captivity.

Blog Written By Education Intern Hannah Wherry

Education Update

Educational Program Launch

March 28, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge kicked off their new educational programming this month with a variety of hands-on learning activities that focused on an assortment of animal topics. March is always a very busy month for us as the weather warms up and the kids are out for Spring Break. The education department was prepared to provide fun learning activities for guests of all ages. Activities started with World Wildlife Day where visitors discovered the importance of wildlife and how they can help no matter where they live. With programs focused on Biodiversity Hotspots, adaptations, recycling, and much more; visitors were able to have a deeper understanding of how all living things are connected and that we all play a part.

Spring Break was a week full of fun activities every day centered around the wildlife that calls the refuge home. One of the programs; guests discovered animal strength by handling large enrichment toys and experienced how heavy they are for us compared to how easy it is for Tigers to pick them up.  Throughout the month, our education programming allowed guests to discover the refuge in a new way and how to be the voice for all wildlife.

NWA Gives Day 2018

Keeping it cool at TCWR

March 27, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is gearing up for 2018’s NWA Gives day! You’re invited to our online day of giving Thursday, April 5th from 8am-8pm CST for a day dedicated to the nonprofits that call Northwest Arkansas home. You don’t have to be a resident of NWA to participate, just show some love to NWA nonprofits like Turpentine Creek!

This year, Turpentine Creek’s goal is to raise $7,500 for a new 10 x 12 ft freezer to store meat for the animals. As warmer temperatures approach, we are going to need more cold storage space to keep our animals meals. Our bears and big cats have big appetites! We feed out between 800-1,200 lbs of raw meat daily and having the extra freezer space will allow us to more efficiently store, thaw, and feed out food for our four-legged residents.

No amount is too great or too small to give, join us Thursday, April 5th for a day of giving, fun online activities, and fundraising. Please check your email, join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube for fun activities throughout the day, and donate to help us, help them. Donations will be accepted online and over the phone the day of the online fundraising event, checks can also be sent with “NWA Gives Day” in the memo line.

Kite Fest 2018

Art With An Altitude

March 19, 2018

It’s kite-flying time, and what better way to share in the fun with your family than by joining us for KITE FEST this Saturday, March 24 at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge – it will be a day of fun for your whole family!

Join us in the festival space adjacent to our main parking lot for these FREE ACTIVITIES:

  • Bring your own kite or kids can make their own with the experts from KaleidoKites of Eureka Springs
  • Get beautiful face art painted by Julie’s Face & Body Art!
  • Visit the Girl Scout Diamonds booth and DIY faux stained-glass style kite for a window cling keepsake!
  • Watch Wyatt Beck the Magician perform illusions and unveil his “Flea Circus” act!
  • Sign up for our raffle for a chance to win a 6’ kite from KaleidoKites of Eureka Springs!

While you are here:

  • Enjoy delicious bar-b-que at the Catered Creations stand and top it off with luscious desserts like key lime pie and cheesecake served State Fair-style on a stick from J & K Mobile food.
  • Wash it down with a beverage from our Refuge stand; all proceeds go to the animals!
  • Enjoy live music from Art Deco Band Trio from 12-3. Tuba, trombone, and banjo bring 1900’s vaudeville, blues and jazz melodies to life while musicians interact with the audience for a unique entertainment experience!
  • And don’t forget the real reason we’re here: Remember, we are a true sanctuary offering refuge to the abandoned, abused, and neglected victims of the exotic pet trade.  While we can’t give them the freedom they deserve, we can give them respect, love and the best care possible for the rest of their lives. All proceeds from our tours and gift shop merchandise go to the care, housing, and advocacy for these magnificent animals.
  • Take advantage of our FREE educational program offered with our guided tours, learn about the animals here, and how easily you can advocate for them! This Saturday we will be featuring the following educational talks during our guided tours:

Join us for our daily educational programming at the refuge

  • Keeper Talk – 10:40 am
  • Animal Senses – 11:10 am
  • Enrichment fun – 12:40 pm
  • Top of the Food Chain – 1:10 pm
  • Keeper Talk – 2:40 pm
  • If You Give a Tiger a Toy – 3:10 pm
  • Wild Child Scavenger Hunt – 4:30 pm

Click here to learn more about our daily educational programming. 

We will also have professional kite fliers on-hand to give demonstrations – – recent years have featured fighting kites and kites made of foil which can be flown in rainy conditions – and learn how to maneuver professional kites like a pro!  Learn about the art of Bonsai and treat yourself to a purchase from The Bonsai Guy or visit the HempWorx stand to learn about the health/wellness benefits of 100% legal CBD oil, purchase their products and sign up for a giveaway prize!

Don’t miss out on this fun-filled and educational day at the Refuge! 

Standard admission applies to touring the Refuge: FREE – Toddlers (3 years and younger) $10 – Children (4-12 years); Seniors (65+ years); Military (active/veteran) $15 – Teenagers (13-19 years) $20 – Adults (20-64 years)

Thank you to media partners 3W Magazine, the Official Kids Mag of Northwest Arkansas and the Eureka Springs, Arkansas City Advertising and Promotion Commission for promoting one of the best kite festivals in Arkansas, and the only one in the world held at a big cat sanctuary! Big cats and kites! It doesn’t get any better than that! #TCWRKiteFest #TCWR #EurekaSprings

Blog Written By Stewardship Intern Sandra Ames

Cats At The Castle 2018

Annual Fundraising Event

March 12, 2018

Our annual Cats at the Castle Fundraising event is only a month away! You are invited to join us on Saturday, April 21, 2018, at 6:30 pm at the beautiful Castle Rogue’s Manor just off of Highway 187 in Beaver, Arkansas, for a fun night of fundraising, beautiful artwork, music, food, drinks, and friendly conversation. Spend a fun-filled evening with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge team members and fellow big cat lovers, all while supporting the animals that call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge home.

Enjoy an evening listening to the live band and eating great food with your fellow big cat lovers. You can also participate in the evening’s silent auction as well as a live auction, proceeds from both auctions will go back to the refuge to help care for the animals that call Turpentine Creek home. Tickets are very LIMITED so get your tickets now while they last, every year we sell out. Tickets for Cats at the Castle are $100 per person.

You can purchase tickets for $100 each through Paypal or by phone.

Click here to purchase your tickets now.

Join the conversation about Cats at the Castle on our Facebook event page.

Cats at the Castle is a private event for adults only. Drinks will be served along with food. Supporters are encouraged to participate in our silent and live auction throughout the night. A live band will provide entertainment. Some tables will be available to sit at but as this event is an opportunity to socialize there will be plenty of standing room. This is an opportunity for our supporters to talk one on one with our President Tanya Smith, animal care team members, and other team members. Attire recommendation is cocktail style, comfortable but elegant.

We hope to see you all there! Get your tickets today before they are sold out! 

Changes and Improvements

Offering A More Engaging Experience

March 6, 2018

The team at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is looking forward to the changing and improvements that are happening at the refuge. Our new education department has been planning a fun-filled year for all our visitors, our online team has been changing up how we interact online with our supporters, we’ve launched a new advocacy program to let big cat lovers change the lives of animals in need, and we’ve also begun making changes on our website. This is only the beginning of all we have planned to give our supporters a more robust experience with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Our new education team has already begun planning a full year of family-friendly, fun-filled activities for the year. They have also been working closely with our website manager to build a new Education section on the website. The new education section not only has a place for education-centric blog posts, but also animal species information, and of course an events calendar!

Click here to learn more about our new educational programming and events.

Click here to view our new animal species information.

A new advocacy program is also off to a great start! Over 100 messages have already been sent to congressmen about supporting H.R. 1818 – The Big Cat Public Safety Act. We are still learning the new advocacy program, but hope to continue to work with it so that we can allow our supporters to get more involved with protecting big cats.

Click here to learn more about our new advocacy program and H.R. 1818.

Although we are making changes, we have only just begun! We invite everyone to continue to watch us on social media, our website, and at the refuge. Our new educational programming is launching just in time for spring break! We invite everyone to come out and visit to participate in one of our many educational activities that will be available during spring break. Check out the educational event calendar to plan your spring break visit! 

This year is already looking to be full of changes and improvements. We couldn’t do what we do without your support, thank you!

New Education Programing

Outreach and Education Events

February 26, 2018

Turpentine Creek is thrilled to announce our new educational program starting next month! Join us on March 3rd from 12:10 – 3:30 pm at the refuge for a fun-filled celebration on World Wildlife Day.

In addition to our outreach program in partnership with schools and our booth presentations, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is proud to announce the start of our onsite educational program, which will enrich visitors’ experience and show how you become advocates for these wonderful animals both in captivity and the wild!

Our new education programs will focus on different topics throughout the year, with special emphasis on the interdependence of the web-of-life. We’ll talk about the richest biodiversity places on earth and tell you how to help save them: Everything from introducing you to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo App that will help you identify which products use sustainable palm oil and which to avoid, helping preserve orangutans and other species native to palm forests, to showing you which companies have begun their own palm farms to preserve wild habitats. Did you know that an action as simple as refusing a plastic straw for your beverage or using a cloth shopping bag could have an enormously positive effect on our environment? Join us and find out why!

Topics will include awareness of the Exotic Pet Trade, its negative impact on both captive and wild species, and how you can join us in putting an end to this practice in the United States with HR1818.  Not only will we fill you in on what this important legislation will do for the big cats but we will also show you how easily you can become a voice for them by sending an email to your Representative with a two-minute visit to our website.

These exciting educational opportunities will be offered in weekly programs, guided tours, summer day camps, workshops, volunteer enrichment days and special World Wildlife Day programs to kick things off on March 3rd!  

Check out the new education section of our website for full calendar and details of each presentation to find the one that will help you reach your own goals in becoming an environmentalist! Learn more about these magnificent big cats, bears, and other exotic species, how you can make a difference in their lives, and join other advocates to preserve these species in the wild as well as sustain our environment for generations to come!

Keep an eye on the education section as we continue to add to the information there and add new education programming events! We cannot wait to see you here.

Blog Written By Stewardship Intern Sandra Ames

Big Cat Advocacy

YOU Can Make a Difference!

February 20, 2018

There are thousands of animal lovers across the country advocating for big cats today, and you can too! Join Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in our fight to put a stop to the exotic animal trade and help us help them. 

At TCWR we are always striving to improve on ways to advocate for the big cats, bears, and other exotic animals who have not been fortunate enough to be rescued by an accredited sanctuary. This month we have a new addition to our website, an advocacy page, which will make it easier than ever to become a voice for the big cats!  With an estimated 10-20,000 big cats living in backyards, roadside zoos, circuses, cub petting and breeding operations right now, there is no time to waste!  Act now to help end the exploitation and endless suffering of these innocent wild ones!

Click Here To Change Lives Now

It only takes a minute to fill out our form and click to join the thousands of animal advocates across the country lobbying our representatives to pass HR1818 before the end of 2018.

HR1818 will not only protect the rights of these innocent wild ones, but also protect your family from harm. Many big cats are being kept in unsafe cages in homes and backyards across the United States, with injury or death possible for both humans and the animal as a big cat matures.

What will HR1818 do?  It will force owners of big cats to register their animals, giving us a true count of how many exist in private ownership across the country.  The bill will also end unregulated breeding, which allows the inbreeding currently responsible for many of the genetic defects causing deformities, which can severely impact the animal’s quality of life.   In addition, it will put an end to cub petting, or pay-to-play schemes for money where cubs are taken from their mothers at birth, depriving them of proper nutrition to be roughly handled every day of their often-short lives; once their wild natures make them unsafe to handle at less than three months age they are often abandoned or euthanized.  Lastly, restricting public interaction will greatly help to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by adult big cats.

Why is it vital to pass HR1818?  Let these animals’ stories speak for them: Click Here To Learn More

By ending the unregulated breeding and eventually future private ownership, this bill will help put a stop to the exotic animal trade forever.

With just a few simple clicks you can help save lives and end the endless suffering of thousands of big cats and help protect those still in the wild! Together we can do this!

Click Here To Stop The Abuse of Big Cats Nationwide

Blog Written By Stewardship Intern Sandra Ames

Payson Arrives

Newest Furry Family Member

February 12, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has opened our hearts and refuge to a new female, white tiger named Payson. Payson was rehomed with us from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo contacted us looking for a new home for the 13-year-old Payson since they have decided to shift focus towards their Amur tiger species survival program.

“We are very excited to offer Payson a home with us! The zoo did what was best for Payson and the tiger species as a whole, since white tigers are not viable genetic candidates for the conservation of the species,” said Tanya Smith, President of TCWR.

The Henry Doorly Zoo decided to reach out to us during their search to rehome Payson, knowing that we would be able to offer her the same quality health care, attention, and love that they had given her. On February 7, 2018, Payson made the 430-mile journey to our refuge. She arrived in the afternoon and with only a little hesitation, transferred from her travel crate into her double night house area. She will spend a few days secured in the night house area for observation before she is given access to the large grassy habitat she will now call home.

We are glad that we could work with the Henry Doorly Zoo for this rehoming. We have been striving to foster better working relationships with zoos across the U.S. for years. We believe that zoos and sanctuaries will need work together to make sure that big cats in captivity are getting the best possible care. In the past, we have hosted a collaborative behavioral training workshop between zoos and sanctuaries, consulted with various zoos about animal health issues, and hope to continue to strengthen communicative efforts in the future.

So Mulch To Talk About

Warm Furry Friends

February 5, 2018 

Bosco enjoying the mulch pile in his night house on a cool winter day.

When winter temperatures plummet at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge we become innovative in ways to keep our animals warm. While a few of our residents such as the bobcats, cougars and black bears are native to the Ozarks, many are not, leaving them ill-equipped to face the winter months.

A key way we work to keep them warm is to ensure that they have enough insulation in their dens; we do this using mulch. Mulch offers more benefits than simply acting as an insulator, it also provides cushioning between the floor of their night house and their paws, which helps prevent chapping. In addition, mulch has a great smell.  The cedar and other woods emit a fresh woodsy scent that many animals enjoy; some can be found luxuriously rolling in a freshly laid pile! Every other day, animal care staff replace it to ensure it is kept clean, dry, and continues to have that wonderful aroma.

Even better, one of our dreams is to have heated floors in all the dens, which would truly help to increase our non-native animals’ comfort.  Together we can make this happen – please help us do this for them by donating today!