Category Archives: News

Summer Fun Days

Educational Days for Kids at TCWR

June 4, 2019

Kids enjoying summer day camp at TCWR and learning about animal tracksFor the second year in a row, Turpentine Creek is excited to announce that we are hosting kids day camps in June. Our 9 to 12-year-old camp is full, but we still have plenty of spots open for our 6 to 8-year-old camp on June 12-14th!  We are also very excited to announce a new kids summer activity happening in July, our summer Fun Days!

We all love the fun that summer offers such as playing in the pool, fishing, and enjoying the sunshine. This summer, join TCWR’s Education Team for our Summer Fun Days in July.  Each day we will explore the refuge through fun activities, games, arts and crafts, and more. The summer fun days will each start with a tour of the refuge before diving into our learning activities.  TCWR is an amazing place for kids to enjoy their summer vacation, they will discover why Exotic Animals don’t make good pets and have fun while they learn. Our Summer Fun Days take place each Saturday in July at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Kids enjoying summer at TCWR's Summer Day CampHowever, if you live in the Rogers/Bentonville area and are unable to make a drive out to the refuge, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting Summer Fun Days on Fridays at the Center for Non-profits in Rogers Arkansas. We will have the same fun learning activities and crafts that participants will enjoy at the refuge. Each child that attends the event at the Rogers location will get a free admission ticket to the refuge as well.

Summer Fun Days will take place from 9am-1pm and costs $30 per child (please bring sack lunch and snack). We are looking forward to a summer full of fun learning about Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my! For more information and to register, please visit the summer day camp section on our website at tcwr.org/kidscamp . Please feel free to contact our Education Department at education@turpentinecreek.org or at 479-253-5841 ext 3.

Two Bobcats Rescue

Flooding in Arkansas Displaces Bobcats

May 29, 2019

Record flooding on the Arkansas River has destroyed houses and businesses in west central Arkansas. Many humans have lost their livelihood in only a few short days because of heavy rainfall in Arkansas and Oklahoma. But humans are not the only victims of these storms. On May 28th, 2019, at around 1 pm, Turpentine Creek was contacted by a woman who had two pet bobcats given to her after they were rescued from a flooded house.

The two 8-month-old bobcats, Prince and Tony, had been rescued from a flooded home in Lavaca, Arkansas. They were confined to dog crate cages with rising flood waters already reaching their chests. The rescuers pulled the pair of bobcats out of the house in time to save their lives, but not all of the owner’s animals were rescued in time. The owner relinquished the bobcats to a woman in Charleston, Arkansas, who was known to take in small animals in need. The woman had no idea how to care for bobcats, so she reached out to local rescues to find them a home. Multiple rescues pointed her in Turpentine Creek’s direction, so she reached out to us for help.

Turpentine Creek answered the call and packed up to race down to rescue the bobcats. We had to navigate around flooded areas and what should have only been a two-hour trip took over three hours to navigate. Many roads were flooded, and most bridges had been closed down due to severe flooding. Despite this, the team took their time and safely made it to Charleston, Arkansas to pick up our newest animal residents and arrive back at the Refuge at 11 pm.

According to the rescuer, the pair of bocats had been found in the wild in October of last year and were approximately one month old. The individual who found them decided to keep them as pets and had them living in her house. When her husband became sick, they were moved to small crates in the person’s backyard and were allowed to spend some time in a dog run on occasion. Both Tony and Prince show signs of severe muscle atrophy in their hind legs due to this. They were also both reportedly being fed cat food, an improper diet for a bobcat, and also show nutritional deficiencies. Our veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweeley, will be performing a full examination and evaluation of their health over the upcoming days.

Prince and Tony will spend the next few weeks in quarantine down at our vet hospital to prevent the transfer of any diseases. Once they have been cleared of all diseases and infestations, we plan to neuter the pair and attempt to re-introduce them. They will then be placed in a habitat where they can spend their lives enjoying a safe, happy, life at with us the Refuge.

Turpentine Creek was assisted in this emergency rescue by ifaw, who has partnered with the Refuge to pay for rescue and veterinary expenses for the pair of bobcats. With the flooding happening around the country from the severe storm many animals have been displaced. Unlike normal domestic cats and dogs, there are very few places that captive exotic animals can go. With assistance from groups like ifaw, sanctuaries will be able to step up and offer assistance as needed to rescue these victims of the exotic pet trade.

Please donate today to help us care for our newest animal residents. Tony and Prince will need adopters and sponsors to help us care for them for the remainder of their lives. These two young bobcats now have a real chance at life here at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. It is only with your help that we can continue to rescue survivors of the exotic pet trade. 

A picture of Prince, a 9-month-old bobcat recently rescued by Turpentine Creek.

Prince the 9-month-old Bobcat, rescued by Turpentine Creek.

Tony the 9-month-old bobcat recently rescued by Turpentine Creek.

Tony the 9-month-old bobcat recently rescued by Turpentine Creek.

Several Servals Celebrate Construction Completion

And YOU are invited!

May 15, 2019

This is your purr-sonal invitation to join us Wednesday, June 12, at 9:45 AM for the grand opening of our new serval habitat. The project was made possible by the Roop family. The Refuge opens at 9 AM, and we encourage you to arrive no later than 9:30 AM. Standard admission rates apply.

Work on the project began this winter, almost immediately after the grand opening of the updated bear habitats. Our animal care and maintenance teams battled unpredictable weather, from ice and snow to torrential downpours of rain, as well as delays on materials and unplanned instances that required a shift in priorities. With just a few finishing touches remaining, we are excited to release our five serval residents into their new space!

The enclosure spans 6,500 square feet. Much like tigers, servals are a species of water-loving felines so we’ve provided them with a pool to keep them splish-splashing all summer long. When it’s time for the chilly winter weather that African cats disfavor, they can cuddle up and keep warm in their spacious heated building. We incorporated natural rock and wood features in order to fabricate benches for rest and hollows for privacy.

As we continue to use our resources to fight back against the Exotic Pet Trade epidemic, we live day to day knowing that at any second, the phone could ring with a call that will lead us to an animal or multiple animals who need our help. We keep this in mind as we erect our enclosures; they need to be specific enough to meet the needs of the animal residents currently residing in them but versatile enough to accommodate someone else. This habitat could safely and comfortably house multiple small cats, such as leopards or cougars, or a single large animal, such as a lion or tiger. If the day comes when the servals need to be relocated, perhaps to Rescue Ridge many years down the line when they’ve aged, then we will have no problem adapting their former enclosure for a different species.

We can’t wait to watch our serval residents take the first steps with their tiny paws into their forever home and are elated to share this special day with you. Please visit our website if you have any questions regarding your visit to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Explore this page to learn more about our serval residents.

DJ and T Grant

DJ & T Foundation Awards Grant

$100,000 Grant for Animal Medical Needs

April 30, 2019

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the DJ & T Foundation. The funds will be used for the sanctuary’s veterinary care program.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge will celebrate their 27th year in existence May 1. The organization’s mission focuses on providing a lifetime home for abused and neglected big cats, though they frequently take in bears.

In 2016, at the height of the TCWR’s largest rescue to-date, “The Colorado Project,” construction continued on an on-site veterinary hospital to reduce the risks associated with anesthetizing and transporting animals 48 miles round-trip for medical treatment. In 2018, the refuge hired its first on-site veterinarian to provide an even higher standard of care to their 95 animal residents.

The DJ & T Foundation, established in 1995, focuses on animal welfare. They played a vital role in TCWR’s aforementioned Colorado Project through grant funding. Their support allowed TCWR to purchase the Colorado property, which was required for the sanctuary to begin facilitating the removal of 115 animals residing in deplorable conditions at the facility. The 2016 grant also funded staffing to carry out the 6-month undertaking of rescuing, rehoming and transporting animals from the Colorado property to reputable sanctuaries nation-wide.

TCWR would like to publically thank the DJ & T Foundation for their past and current support.

“So many of these animals have very specific needs from their years of abuse and neglect before their rescue. To be able to stock our veterinary hospital with medication and equipment that will allow them to live longer, pain-free lives is a blessing for them and for all of us who care for them. We can’t thank the DJ & T Foundation enough,” said TCWR President, Tanya Smith.

Life-Saving Surgery Update

Blackfire Recovering Comfortably

November 7, 2018

Blackfire is on the road to recovery after receiving life-saving emergency surgery at Kansas State University on Tuesday, November 6. The 2-year-old white tiger is currently staying in a recovery enclosure at our on-site veterinary hospital. He will spend two weeks there healing, receiving much-needed pain medication, and being closely observed by our staff veterinarian. After two weeks he will be evaluated to see if he is healed enough to return to his habitat and sisters.

On Friday, November 2, Turpentine Creek announced that Blackfire needed surgery due to a severe hiatal hernia. Dr. Kellyn Sweely had diagnosed Blackfire’s hernia but knew that we did not have the proper equipment or team to perform such an invasive surgery in our on-site veterinary hospital. The operation required a full team of anesthesiologists, specialized equipment, and a full veterinary team. We reached out to Dr. James Carpenter at KSU to oversee the surgery. We have worked with Dr. Carpenter and KSU in the past and know that he is the best in his field.

During the procedure, the KSU team found that Blackfire had a large hole in his diaphragm and that his stomach, spleen, colon, and intestines had pushed into his chest cavity. They believe that he had a birth defect that caused the diaphragm to be weak in a large section causing the hernia as he grew and had bowel issues related to his Metabolic Bone Disease. Luckily, we caught the hernia issue in time, and his intestines were still healthy. If his intestines or stomach had lost circulation, he would have died.

The KSU veterinary team was able to attach his stomach to his abdominal wall and close the hole in his diaphragm. As long as he rests throughout his two week recovery period, he should not have any lasting issues due to the hernia and live a long happy life here at the Refuge.

The cost for the surgery, aftercare, travel, and medication was estimated at $9,000. TCWR put a call out to our supporters on Friday to raise the money for the unexpected expense, and our donors quickly came to our aid. Within a few short hours, we had raised the needed amount to make sure Blackfire could get the care he desperately needed.

Thank you to all the supporters who liked, shared, commented, and donated to help Blackfire!

It is thanks to your support that we are able to give these animals a chance at a long, happy, healthy life with us.  We couldn’t do what we do without you!

Blackfire says “chuff chuff chuff,” which we are pretty sure means “thank you for saving my life!”

Ethical Tourism Destination

Creating a Better World One Vacation at a Time

August 20, 2018

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is hard at work to change the lives of not only our animals but our visitors! Changing the mindset and helping people make ethical choices when planning their vacation starts right here. Before most people plan a vacation, they do a little research to find the best, most fun, exciting, and affordable places to make their get-aways memorable.

Luckily, the mindset of many travelers is shifting. A new term “Ethical Tourism” has been popping up more often in the travel industry. Ethical Tourism means thinking about the consequences of your actions as a tourist on the ecosystem, environment, wildlife, local people, and local economy. Finding Ethical Tourism Destinations when planning a trip means you are helping others, while still getting the chance to have a wonderful vacation.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge works hard to be an Ethical Tourism Destination. Our hourly tours not only allow our visitors to see exotic animals but also educates the public about the plight of big cats in captivity. Our new education initiative expands on that with additional programs and activities scheduled throughout the week, that also talk about wildlife and environmental conservation. Entry fees, lodging costs, and gift shop sales help to keep Turpentine Creek running so that 100% of donations can be put directly towards the care of the animals living at the refuge. We are a hands-off facility, making sure we are always doing what is best for the animals that call the Refuge home.

There are dozens of “sanctuaries”, “zoos”, and “rescues” around the country touting their rescued animals and letting visitors get up close and personal with their big cat residents. They allow people to pet their big cats or get photos with cubs. Places like these do not worry about the safety of their animals or the public; the money they bring in doesn’t help the animals. Many times, big cats are bred to produce enough cubs for the cub-petting industry until they die, only for those cubs to die from health complications, be transitioned into their breeding program, or be sold as a pet or into the trophy hunting industry. Places like these are NOT Ethical Tourism Destinations since it only has a negative impact on the animals’ lives.

Before planning a trip to any sanctuary, zoo, or rescue facility, do some research. Make sure that you are traveling with a purpose and search for Ethical Tourism Destinations when you are planning your next vacation.

Endangered Species Day

Raising Awareness

May 18, 2018

The problem with endangered species is how they become endangered in the first place. There are many, but two main reasons animals are disappearing from the Earth: loss of habitat and loss of genetic variation. But why do endangered species matter to us? Extinction is a natural process, and history has shown “normal” rates to be between 1-2 species per year. Currently, the rate of extinction is estimated to be 1000-10,000 times this rate. This is due to human causes, and we are entering a new epoch in time: The Anthropocene: where our geological footprint will forever be engrained in the history and geological records of our planet.

Endangered species are defined as a group of organisms that are at risk of becoming extinct due to habitat loss, alteration of ecological roles, or too few remaining individuals to sustain breeding of the species. Habitat loss due to human activity, cutting down forests for agriculture, draining coastal marshlands, as well as pesticides and chemical alterations to our landscapes have destroyed both the habitat and food supply for life on Earth. Pollution, overexploitation, population growth, and commercialized farming are also culprits to the rapid endangerment of our wildlife.

We are all dependent on the health of the natural world to survive by its provisions such as clean air, water, and food. Many species today are in extreme danger of disappearing forever due to our choices. We must protect the fragile Earth by making better decisions about what we choose to consume. By purchasing sustainably made products and lessening our personal impacts on the environment, we can each individually make a difference.

List of Endangered Big Cats

Critically Endangered

  • West African Lion
  • South China Tiger
  • Sumatran Tiger Amur Leopard
  • Javan Leopard
  • South Arabian Leopard
  • Asiatic Cheetah

Endangered

  • Central Asian Leopard
  • North Persian Leopard
  • Persian Leopard
  • West Asian Leopard
  • Sri Lankan Leopard
  • Asiatic Lion
  • Snow Leopard
  • Tiger
  • Amur Tiger
  • Indochinese Tiger
  • Malayan Tiger
  • Bengal Tiger

Critically Endangered

  • Iberian Lynx
  • Iriomote Cat

Endangered

  • Fishing Cat
  • Flat-headed Cat
  • Scottish Wildcat

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.

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.

#GivingTuesday Results

Your Donations Make A Difference

December 4, 2017

Once a year, supporters all over the world come together on a single day to help the nonprofits that they love. #GivingTuesday is the kickoff of the end of the year giving season. Most nonprofits get 20-40% of their donations at the end of the year, so this is a very important time for us.

This year for #GivingTuesday, we set a high goal to raise $11,550 so that we could purchase equipment to assist with habitat building. The equipment, a Bobcat Trencher attachment, a Bobcat Auger attachment, a Stihl XL Chainsaw, a Stihl Concrete Saw, and 4 Stihl professional grade weedeaters, will help us to expand into the densely wooded and hilled section of our 450+ acres of property to build bigger, natural habitats for our residents.

Thanks to our amazing supporters we reached our goal shortly after noon! We are always pleasantly surprised, but not shocked, by how quickly our supporters will come together to help us fund projects or get much-needed equipment. Because we reached our goal so early we were able to move onto our stretch goal of $25,258. The additional $13,708 would be used to purchase a 6-month supply of Nebraska and Tripple A meat for our special dietary needs cats (such as Peyton, Rocklyn, and Black Fire).

By the end of #GivingTuesday, we had received $20,489 in donations through Facebook, Paypal, and in-person donations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was offering a $2 Million dollar match for Facebook donations, but we have yet to be notified of how much of the $7,537, that was donated through Facebook, qualified for the match. It can take up to 72 days for us to get a notification from Facebook about the #GivingTuesday match, so our official fundraising numbers may go up in the next few weeks.

We would like to thank everyone who donated to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge on #GivingTuesday. We also want to say thank you to all the wonderful people who participated in our #GivingTuesday activities through Facebook. We gave away 8 paw paintings and a few other amazing prizes throughout the day to participants. It was a lot of fun and it helped spread the word about Turpentine Creek.

With your help, we can do AMAZING things! Thank you all for your support!

Don’t forget to make your end of the year donations before January 1st if you want a 2018 tax deduction. Also, if you are ordering an adoption, sponsorship, calendar, coloring book, membership, or cub club package for Christmas, your orders must be received on or before December 10th if you want to get them before Christmas.