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!




NWA Gives…And Beyond!

Join Us for Prizes and Fun April 8, from 8 AM – 8 PM

March 11, 2021

If you’ve known us awhile, you know we don’t do fundraising- we do FUNraising! Our next big online “pawty” will be NWA Gives Day on April 8, from 8 AM – 8 PM! During these 12 hours, we will be raising money that will support our current animal residents and allow us to quickly answer the call from others in need.

It’s been a tough year, between COVID-19 and winter storms, and we’re ready to blow off some steam! The fun will include random prize drawings and tons of live videos throughout the day. Though closures to the public from winter storms and operating at a limited  capacity due to the pandemic has been difficult on the Refuge financially, it has given us some extra time to create cool prizes that you can get your paws on April 8!

We love NWA, but our animal residents are lucky enough to get love from across the country, which is why everyone, from NWA and beyond, gets an invite to this feline fun time! You’re welcome whether you are able to donate directly to our $35,000 goal or not. Just make sure to tune in to our social media pages on April 8, from 8 AM – 8 PM, for your chance to win prizes and engage with your Turpentine Creek family through live videos.

Donations can be made on April 8 through our official page on the NWA Gives platform, through Facebook, or on a page we’re creating at, that will be ready to share very soon. 

For those who wish to mail checks, we encourage you to send them by April 1, so they can be counted by April 8. Please mail your donations to :

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

239 Turpentine Creek Lane,

Eureka Springs, AR


Please make checks payable to “Turpentine Creek Foundation Inc.” for “NWA Gives.”

If you’re a business owner or individual who would like to make a matching donation, please email We would be honored to promote your business or give you a personal shout-out for your generosity! Anonymous donations are also welcome.

Stay tuned for more updates on NWA Gives…and Beyond! 

Get Loud for Lila

Lila Tiger Died at the Waccatee Zoo Following Alleged Neglect

March 4, 2021

Lila tiger sparked outcry after photos of her, hairless and weak, were taken at the Waccatee Zoo in 2020. True sanctuaries and other animal welfare organizations could do nothing without the proper agencies stepping in first. Despite a year of filing complaints and providing evidence of neglect to the USDA and animal control authorities in South Carolina, no officials intervened to help her. Now, she’s dead.

Gruesome photos like those shown here were submitted along with accounts that Lila had lost all of her beautiful fur. The strong muscle tone that makes her species such agile hunters was wasting away. This apex predator spent her days pacing back and forth in her cage, alone, cold, and scared. Her eyes were those of a broken soul and damaged spirit that had given up long before her body. Why didn’t anyone help her? 

The zoo alleged the tiger was receiving veterinary care and had no health conditions; her outward appearance told a different story. They also alleged she died peacefully in her sleep. The exact cause of her death may be up for debate, but one thing is certain to those familiar with the case: nothing about lovely Lila’s life was peaceful. We can only hope she felt some comfort that her pain was over as she took her last breath.

Lila lost her fur. Lila lost her strength. Lila lost her life. Lila will not lose her legacy! 

We want you to #GetLoudForLila to save the other animals still trapped at the Waccatee Zoo! Share her story. Say her name. Take action by writing to the zoo’s owner, urging them to rehome the animals to proper facilities that can allow their story to end differently than Lila’s:

Attn: Owner Waccatee Zoological Farm 8500 Enterprise Rd. Myrtle Beach, SC 29588

Rest in peace, Lila. 

Rambo’s New Beginning

This week, we had the privilege of welcoming a new animal resident to the Turpentine Creek family. This animal does not “carol,” “chuff,” or “hiss,” nor does he make any bear sounds (which is typically just the noise of destruction, anyway). Rambo is neither feline or canine; instead he belongs to the hyaenidae family. We are sure you can guess what that makes him! 

Our one and only hyena came to his forever home late Monday night and was released into a habitat at Rescue Ridge for quarantine Tuesday morning. He did not truly emerge from the roll cage until almost noon, despite being tempted with food. When he finally strutted into his habitat, Rambo began to explore and emit hyena “whoops” to our team. 

The road to rescue was a difficult one; while the process of loading Rambo and heading home with him was actually one of the simpler transfers we have done, we ran into multiple glitches along the way. Sunday night, as team members headed to South Arkansas, a wheel bearing went out on our trailer. After that was fixed, our GPS seemed confused about our destination. A few wrong turns later, we made it to Rambo’s former home. As we were greeting him, team members attempted to take photos to share with you all, but following a literal misstep, our camera ended up in the mud. As a “laughing hyena,” we are sure Rambo found the entire thing hilarious!

Rambo lived with his previous family for his entire life of 10 years. Sadly, the father of the family unexpectedly passed away in an automobile accident about two weeks ago. The family loved Rambo, and we respect them for contacting a true sanctuary to take care of him following the accident. We ask that you please keep them in your thoughts as they grieve the loss of their loved one. 

Currently, our new hyena friend seems to be in good health. We will post the findings of Dr. Kellyn’s wellness exam when they become available. You can follow his journey on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube pages. 

Rambo is in need of symbolic adopters, as well as a sponsor. 

Even if you are unable to symbolically adopt or sponsor, Rambo welcomes all donations towards his care at his new home. Five dollars can help Rambo keep “laughing” as he starts his new life.


Subarctic Temperatures In The Ozarks

Blustering Cold Weather At Turpentine Creek

February 18, 2021

This week, a few of our big cats may be getting flashbacks of their ancestral home as an arctic front has lingered over much of the central United States.Temperatures, well below what Alaska is currently experiencing, have stalled in our area, bringing activity at the Refuge to a screeching halt. Although our African cats don’t like the cooler weather, many of our tigers can be found romping and playing, despite the freezing cold. Their thick winter coats and the option to snuggle up in a den that is much warmer than the outside air keeps them from feeling the chill.

Subzero temperatures with additional wind chills have our team walking a thin line; we must care for our animals, make sure they have food, warm bedding, and plenty of water, but with the steep hills and freezing temperatures it isn’t safe for our team to spend excessive time outdoors. The temperature and slick grounds have also given the additional hurdle that many of our vehicles will not start or cannot make it up the slippery slopes. So, we have had to get creative.

In addition we have a new dilemma, the freezing temperatures have frozen many of our water pipes and sadly a few have even burst! Bam Bam’s water pipes have been destroyed, water spigots have burst, and water lines to housing are frozen solid. Our maintenance team has been managing as much as possible, but this will be a large project to fix, once the temperatures begin to rise this weekend.

We also supply heating to our African and senior animals. Like many other people affected by the extreme weather, we are quickly depleting our gas supply and the electric bill will be much higher this month. All of this is on top of the fact that we have had to close and have lost lodging reservations due to the weather.

Please donate $10-$25 (the cost of an admission ticket) to help us recuperate some of our lost income and cover the additional expenses such as water pipe repair and higher utility bills. Your support is what allows us to keep our animals warm, fed, and watered during these extreme weather conditions.

Extreme Weather At TCWR

Keeping Everyone Safe When The Weather Gets Bad

February 10, 2021

These past few years, Turpentine Creek has been lucky enough to have mild winters with only some scattered snowfall and winter weather. This year, however, has been a little more eventful. We’ve had multiple snow days with inches of snow accumulating on the ground. These snowy play days are a lot of fun for the big cats and our team members. Snowmen, snowball fights, and snow piles are fun to romp in and rarely cause any issue. This week is a bit different. Our forecast was filled with freezing rain, sleet, slushy snow, and below freezing temperatures. This makes for a very cold, slick, work and living environment. Due to this, we have decided to suspend tours until at least Monday, February 15, 2021.

All week we’ve been battling with frozen locks, slippery hills, ice incrusted food bowls, and frozen water. Being outside, caring for the animals, in these extremes can be dangerous, and so to protect our people and animals we decided to stop tours for a few days. This will allow our team to quickly and safely care for the animals and get out of the weather as soon as possible.

Luckily, our big cats have very few issues with the cold temperatures. Senior animals and African animals all have heated dens to snuggle up in. The rest of our animals have warm bedding and dens that typically are 20 or more degrees warmer than the outside air. Their thick fur coats were made for cold temperatures and their dinners are served to them on a ‘silver’ platter so they don’t have to go out into the cold to hunt for food. They get fresh water multiple times a day so they also don’t have to worry about frozen over water dishes.

Please stay safe and warm during these blustering cold winter days. We appreciate your support and ask, if you can, to donate the price of an adult admission ticket $25 to help us recuperate the lost income from needing to be closed during one of our busiest winter weekends – Valentine’s Day. Have a fun and safe weekend!

Will You Be My Meow-lentine

TCWR Online Auction To Support The Animals

February 3, 2021

Join us this weekend for our annual online Valentine’s auction! Our Be My Meow-lentine auction gives you the opportunity to give a unique gift that has the added benefit of helping support the animals that call Turpentine Creek home!

Starting Friday, February 7, 2021, at 8 am CST the auction runs until Sunday, February 9, 2021, at 8 pm CST. 

The auction offers 145 unique and fun items to bid on ranging from key chains created by our big cats, unique art, collectibles, jewelry, and even an old tiger pool that has been turned into a bench with a cooler! Item bidding for most items starts at $0! You could take home something (or a few somethings) special for your Valentine!

We hope that you can join us for this feline fine Valentine’s online event!

Check Out The Auction Here!