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!

An Amazing Experience

Winter Time At The Refuge

January 27, 2021

This week has brought weather that’s been perfect for all of our feline residents. African big cats like lions and servals typically prefer warm but not hot temperatures while tigers fair well on chilly, even damp days. It’s been cloudy and a bit dreary at TCWR, but the temperatures have settled in the sweet spot for lions to sing, servals to pounce from log-to-log in their habitat, and tigers to bat at enrichment and stalk everything in sight. We were even treated to a light dusting of snow that was just enough for cold-weather-loving cats to be excited and warm-preferring ones to be tolerant and even a little curious.

Winter is our slow season, and many people don’t realize how perfect of a time it is to visit. Summer draws more crowds with children out of school and people soaking up the sun, but guests have to be much pickier in regards to the time of day they visit. On very hot days, guests prefer to stick to tours at 10 AM or towards the end of the day, at 3 PM or 4 PM. Winter weather like we have had this week takes care of that issue by providing stable temperatures that might cause us to throw on a light windbreaker and beanie, but that big cats find “purrrfect” in their built-in fur coats.

We have taken precautions to keep our team members, guests, and of course, our animal residents safe during the pandemic. Aside from masking and cleaning procedures, we have also capped tours to limit the number of people in the Refuge at one time. Given that tours are nearly empty during the week this time of year and sparse on the weekends, social distancing is even easier for you and your family by booking a wintertime day trip or overnight stay.

If you’d like to take advantage of this special season that few people get to experience with our animal residents, please book your tickets ahead of time at We always recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before the start of your scheduled tour; tours leave every hour on the hour on the dot, which means arriving right at 10 AM for your 10 AM tour could cause you to miss it. Please also wear a mask to protect our animal residents.

For an even more special experience, book an overnight or weekend getaway to our little piece of Africa in the Ozarks! Watch our animal residents play and possibly frolic in some snow before returning to the warmth and comfort of your family-friendly suite. If you are 18 or older and interested in a trip for two, you can book one of our Zulu Lodges, which gives you access to our comfortable hot tub that is guaranteed to get rid of the chill while you chill. Relaxing in the Ozark Mountains as lions carol away sets the tone for the reset you need. You can explore pricing and book at

Celebrating One Year Of Freedom

Luna And Remington’s Rescue Anniversary

January 20, 2021

Remington at Florida Facility

This month, we celebrate the one year rescue-versary of Luna and Remington, two survivors of the pay-to-play cub petting industry. Luckily, through the efforts of animal advocacy groups and PETA they were saved, but sadly, not everyone survived to rescue.

Luna and Remington, along with cubs Rory and Rajah, began their lives at a Florida roadside attraction where they were forced to swim with paying humans in harshly chlorinated pools all day in a ‘swim with the tigers’ entertainment scam. The cubs struggled to keep their heads above water for hours at a time, with little rest between sessions, netting a fat income for the owners. Then, a 2016 PETA lawsuit charged the facility with several violations of the Federal Endangered Species Act (prematurely separating tiger cubs from their mothers, forcing them into public encounters, and warehousing them in cramped cages), prompting a court-ordered site inspection.

Sometimes things get complicated. Rescuing animals isn’t as simple as exposing abuse to our legal system and being prepared to accommodate the animals. Owners of unethical facilities, seeing their income threatened, may go to extreme lengths to hang on to their ‘golden geese.’ Court cases can drag on for months or even years, prolonging the suffering of animals. Such was the case with Luna and Remington, who were tied up in a court case for three years! Sometimes, as in this case, the rescue comes too late to save all the animals involved.

All four cubs were scheduled to come to Turpentine Creek, but appeals continually delayed their rescue. Sadly, for Rory and Rajah, the court ruling came too late. Reportedly, due to storm damage, they escaped their enclosures and were killed.

They were not the only victims of this attempt to hide evidence; 19 other tigers were shipped off to Oklahoma in an inadequately ventilated trailer. Three cubs born during the transport overheated and did not survive the trip.

Luna and Remington lost no time in discovering the joys of their new large grassy habitat. They greet team members with endless “chuffs” and cheerful groans. They joyfully roll on their backs, and explore the tastes of everything from a leaf-covered limb to their enrichment toys. For the first time in their lives they were allowed and encouraged to exercise their predatory instincts, pouncing on their enrichment toys as if they were prey, sharpening their claws on logs, and stalking their neighbors and care team. They finally have the freedom to just be Tigers, able to choose what to do next. They are relishing every new natural experience, reliving the cub-hood that was stolen from them.

Luna at TCWR

Luckily, advocates and sanctuaries around the country are working to past laws to put an end to cub petting and hands on interaction with big cats. The Big Cat Public Safety Act passed through the house last congressional session but did not manage to make it to the Senate. It has recently been reintroduced to the House as H.R. 263. There are already over 50 House Representatives signed on to support the bill.

When the Big Cat Public Safety Act passes, it will ban the petting and handling of cubs at roadside zoos who profit from these forms of public interaction at the expense of the baby animals’ wellbeing. It will also end the private ownership of big cats. Those who currently own big cats will not have to give up their animals, but they will be required to stop breeding, purchasing, selling, trading, and allowing the public to handle the felines

Remington at TCWR

If you were Luna and Remington, wouldn’t you want a better life? With your help, we can see this legislation passed into law in 2021! If you would like to help, there are two simple courses of action you can take:

Contact your Representative about The Big Cat Public Safety Act Tell at least one person about why passage of HR263 is so important to You, and ask them to: 1) Visit our advocacy page to contact their Representatives 2) Pass on the message to one other person.

Let’s start a chain of action NOW that will forever change how these magnificent animals will be cared for across our nation.