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!

Spring Internship

Educating The Next Generation Of Keepers

January 30, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is not only one of the best big cat rescue facilities in the country, we are also the home of one of the best big cat internships. Our internship program is known worldwide. We have had over 400 interns pass through our program over the past 25 years and those interns are now working in zoos, sanctuaries, and veterinarian facilities around the world.

Our internship program is run bi-annually. The fall internship starts in September and the spring internship starts in February. Each internship group has between 14 and 18 interns, some of which are interns who have applied to stay a second, third, fourth, or even fifth time! These interns dedicate 6 or more months of their lives to helping the animals that call Turpentine Creek home and learn a lot of skills here that they will use during their careers.

Today, our spring interns for 2018, have begun to arrive. Many arrive a few days early so they can get settled in before they begin working 6 days a week. They work hard, getting hands-on experience on how to care for dangerous carnivores. They will spend time learning directly from our Curator, Emily McCormack, and our experienced animal care team members.

They will learn a variety of skills, from big cat nutrition to behavioral training and even how to build habitats. We are very focused on safety around our animals and a large portion of their training is dedicated to this. They are fully submerged into animal care at our facility and learn a lot while they are here. They work rain or shine, snow or blazing heat, the animals in here need care every single day and our team, both permanent staff and interns, work hard to provide that for them.

During our internship program, a group of strangers becomes a family and a little piece of their hearts bonds with the refuge. They know that for the rest of their lives Turpentine Creek will be another home for them, and they will always be welcome to return here with open arms. We are very happy to welcome our new batch of interns and cannot wait to see what amazing things they accomplish with us over the next 6 months. Keep an eye out for more information about the new interns as we get to know them.

New Den Buildings

Flip and Servals New Night Houses

January 23, 2018

Turpentine Creek has been making some changes this winter. Late last year, we completed work a new heated building for Goober to spend cold winter days. Shortly after the completion of his building we purchased two more prefab buildings. Those buildings are currently being fixed up to provide large, heated night house dens for our servals and Flip, our coatimundi. We are proud to say that both buildings are only days away from completion!

Flip and the servals have been very curious about all the construction happening right next to their habitats. Our team has already installed the access doors that will lead from the habitat to the two buildings. Only a few last modifications are needed in Flips to make it Coatimundi friendly. The servals building needs a little more work but it is only a few days behind Flip’s. We hope in the next week or two to be able to give all of them access to their new homes!

Both coatimundis and servals are warm-climate animals. We currently provide them with small heated dens but these new buildings will give them larger areas to enjoy during cold days or just days they feel like being inside. The dens will be accessible throughout the year with heating in the winter. There are air vents and windows to provide ventilation and cooler air circulation during the summer.

We do our best to provide habitats and dens that fit the animals that live in them. We are appreciative to our supporters who have helped us make it possible to provide these special dens for our warm-climate animals. We are always striving to give our animals the best lives possible. It is only through your help that we can continue to provide for the animals in our care, please donate today to help us continue our mission. With your help, we can continue to rescue animals in need.

First Snow Of The Season:

A White Tiger Paradise

January 15, 2018

The residents at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge got a special treat this week, the first major snowfall this year. Big cats, especially tigers, absolutely love the snow, it is a new scent, texture, and mental enrichment item that only nature can provide for them. And they are more than prepared to enjoy it. Tigers get an extra thick coat and an extra layer of fat during the winter to keep them nice and warm even during the cool, wet snow season.

Our white and pure white tigers especially seem to enjoy the snow, since this is the only time during the year that they are truly camouflage and can try to sneak up on team members without them noticing (although we do notice them… we just act extra surprised during the snow storms).

White tigers do not often occur in the wild. The last documented wild white tiger was in the 1950’s, and since then all remaining captive white tigers have come from a very small family tree. Officially, all white tigers in American descend from one of two sources. The most well-known line is Mohan, a white tiger captured in the wild in 1951, who was bred with his daughter, Rewa, to produce white cubs. Another American bred white tiger line that may or may not have a relation to Mohani is the Kubla/Susie line which produced Tony and Tony’s cousins Bagheera & Frosty (Susie’s sister’s cub). Kubla’s parents were wild tigers who were brother and sister, and Susie’s parents are not known publicly, so there is no way to know if she is any relation to Mohan.

With only possibly two sources of white tiger blood in the U.S., that means all white tigers are extremely inbred. This inbreeding has lead to many genetic defects such as being cross-eyed, have shortened tendons of the forelegs (Clubfoot), kidney problems, higher rates of cancer, arched or crooked spines, twisted necks, snub/pug nose (like Kenny), cleft pallet, stunted growth, malformed jaws bones, deformed teeth, and many more birth defects. White tigers are extremely unhealthy and should never be bred.

Beyond the white and black color combination, white tigers can also produce ‘pure’ white tigers (white tigers with no or very faint stripes) and strawberry/golden tabby tigers. These color variants come from the white tiger line and are even more recessive than the white coloration.

Although Turpentine Creek is against breeding tigers, especially white tigers, and other big cats in captivity we are home to eleven white tigers, two pure white tigers, and one Golden Tabby tiger, all who were acquired from other facilities through rescues or rehoming efforts. We will not turn an animal away due to their coloration or health issues.

It is only with your help that we can continue to care for the many cats and bears that call our refuge home and fight for the protection of big cats in captivity. Click here to donate now and help us, help them. 


Keeping Cool Cats Warm

Winter At Turpentine Creek

January 8, 2018

Winter brings cooler temperatures and shorter days for the residents at Turpentine Creek. Typically, the temperature in Eureka Springs averages in the mid 30’s in December and January, but since New Year’s Eve, we have been experiencing below average temperatures in the teens and single digits. Luckily, the temperature has finally begun to return to normal levels, but for a short time, the big cats at Turpentine Creek got a taste of what some of their cousins in the north experience every year.

Some people worry that the big cats might get too cold during these wintery blasts, but be reassured we do our best to prepare and provide our residents with warm areas to get out of the cold. We fill their dens with bedding that helps to keep the temperatures in the dens 20-30F degrees warmer than the outside area. Beyond what we do to keep our feline friends warm, nature has also provided many of our animals with warm, thick winter coats.

Some subspecies of tiger, such as the Amur (Siberian), are native to the northern reaches of Russia, which averages temperatures around -40F in the winter months. Because of this, they have adapted and evolved to withstand extreme winter weather by growing a dense winter coat. Even the most fridged winter weather in Arkansas doesn’t even come close to these extremes.

Wild animals are adapted to survive the cold and will naturally seek warmer shelter to escape the cold. This is why visitors will see our bobcats, cougars, and tigers during the winter but the bears, leopards, and lions are seen less frequently. The cold weather cats spend their days soaking in the sun and playing in the snow (when we have snow) while the warm weather animals tend to spend the winter cuddled in their warm dens.

Some of our animals are less adapted to cold weather, such as our lions, and for these animals, we provide them with warm spaces to escape the cold. We are working on getting electric run throughout the property so that we can eventually install heated dens wherever it is needed. We also keep a very close eye on our animals to make sure that they are not showing signs of adverse effects from the cold weather.

Your support and donations help us provide the best quality care for all the animals that call Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge home. You can help us provide food, warm spaces, enrichment, and much more by donating now.

We also want to remind everyone that we are open during the winter season and that you can visit any day of the year, except Christmas Day.

Looking Forward

A New Year At TCWR

January 2, 2018

The landscape of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is always changing for the better. We continuously put effort into improving the refuge so that our animal residents can have the best lives possible. In 2017, we began building two very large, natural bear habitats that will span over 3.5 acres when they are completed. Over the next few months, these habitats should be completed, and we can move on to new projects. We’ve already received the funds to rebuild our oldest cougar habitat, are currently working to finish up the serval and Flip’s heated night houses, and have plans for more habitat improvements that will be happening throughout the year.

We cannot predict precisely what will happen in 2018, but we anticipate a busy year of building habitats, rescuing animals in need, and fundraising to help care for the animals. We are also expanding our education program and should be kicking off the fundraiser for our new education building on top of all the other improvement projects that are in the works. This upcoming year will be exciting for us all, and we invite our supporters along for the ride!

A lot of changes are happening at Turpentine Creek, but our number one priority is always the animals that live at the refuge, this is their home after all. 2018, is already looking to be a fun and active year filled with special events, activities, fundraisers, and most likely a few rescues. Are you ready? We sure are!

Do you want to start 2018 off right? Signing up for our Sustainers of Wildlife recurring monthly donation program is the best way to help the animals at Turpentine Creek and take a step towards a philanthropic new year.

Some examples of how your recurring donation could help the refuge:

$10 a month = $120 a year = 1 medium Enrichment Toy

$25 a month = $300 a year = 1 large Enrichment Toy

$50 a month = $600 a year = 3 weeks of meat for a full grown big cat

$100 a month = $1,200 a year = 1 month of Gas to heat the refuge

$350 a month = $4,200 a year =  1 month of Electric to run the refuge

Setting up recurring donations helps us plan projects for the year and also gives us a better idea if we can take on new rescues. Your help will allow us to save more lives in 2018, and care for the animals we have already rescued. Help us, help them and make 2018 the best year at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge yet!

Click here to make a one-time donation now or Click here to sign up for our Sustainers of Wildlife monthly recurring donations.

New Year New Beginning

2017 End Of The Year Wrap-Up

December 26, 2017

This past year was filled with many accomplishments and celebrations. We’ve spent the year building habitats, rescuing animals, giving daily care and enrichment to 100 animals, celebrating our 25 years of rescuing, hosting an intern reunion, and trying out new technology. This year we’ve saved lives, but we’ve also had to say goodbye to some of our beloved older animals. As with any rescue facility, we only have a limited amount of time with the animals we care for; death is part of the circle of life and cycle of rescuing.

Our 2017, ended on a very high note, we were notified that we have received our Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Accreditation after working on it for five years. A GFAS Accreditation tells the world, and supporters, that Turpentine Creek meets the highest standards of care for the animals that we rescue. We are proud to earn our place as a GFAS sanctuary and we will continue to strive to better ourselves and go above and beyond the requirements to make sure that Turpentine Creek can give the animals in our care the best lives possible in captivity.

As we look forward to 2018, we know that next year will be even better than this year. We’ve already begun making plans for some events happening in 2018 and all we can say is “stay tuned!” Next year is going to be a fun and eventful year. We’re planning on starting an advocacy program, kicking off our new Visitor Education Center fundraising, building habitats, having grand openings for our two big bear habitats, rescue calls, and MORE!

It is only with your help that we can do what we do. Your donations are what keep Turpentine Creek running and give us the ability to do what is necessary to not only care for the animals but make improvements so that we can give them better lives and meet the higher care standards of groups like GFAS. Please donate and help make 2018 the best year yet!

Donations made the last quarter of the year make up 20-40% of our annual donations. Donating now not only helps you (with tax deductions) but helps us make plans for what we will do in the upcoming year. You can make a donation now and set up monthly recurring donations for 2018 to make your donation even more impactful. Monthly donations help us make plans so that we know how many animals we can care for, and if we have the money/room for more animal rescues. As a 501(c)3 non-profit your donations are tax deductible. Our donations go to helping care for the animals. Donate now and help us help them. 

O’ Chuff-mas tree

Holiday Season at TCWR

December 18, 2017

This year is coming to a close, but even though it will be ending soon, we still have two weeks left in 2017. Turpentine Creek is open every day of the year, except for Christmas so that our team and interns can enjoy the holiday. Yet, even when we are closed to the public, we still provide quality care for the animals that call the refuge home.

Although we are looking forward to Christmas, the team is extra excited about what happens after the holidays are over, seasonal enrichment! Many local Christmas tree lots, the Crescent Hotel, and individual supporters, donate Christmas Trees for the animals to enjoy. It is always fun to introduce different types of enrichment to the animals, and Christmas trees are some of the most exciting enrichment we can provide. Natural enrichment, like snow, is also another benefit of the winter season. Tigers, bobcats, and cougars are big fans of the white fluffy snow that sometimes covers the ground here in Arkansas. It is very fun to build snowmen for the animals and watch them playing in the snowbanks.

We also remind visitors that although the animals LOVE playing in the snow and the cooler weather, as humans we need to dress according to the weather. If it is cold, please wear jackets, gloves, hats, scarves, snow boots, or whatever clothing is appropriate for the weather when you come to visit.

During the final weeks of the year, we also spend a little extra time helping supporters sort out their end of the year donations. Donating is a great way to help the animals and get a little back from what the government takes from your paycheck. Your donation helps us care for the animals all year and by donating now we can plan for projects and special enrichment events in advance. Donate now and help us help them. 

Please be safe this holiday season, no matter what holiday you are celebrating. We invite everyone to come out and visit this winter. Please be aware of our holiday hours if you are planning a visit or trying to contact the refuge.

Holiday Hours:

Christmas Eve: 9a – 2p (last tour leaves at 12p)

Christmas Day: Closed

New Years Day: 10a – 5p (first tour leaves at 11a)

*** We do close if the weather is too severe. We will announce all closings on our social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.