Category Archives: News

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.

Surgery – Bad Declaw Fix

First Surgery Performed at new Veterinary Hospital

Sept. 1, 2016

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Izzy during surgery

On August 24th, TCWR preformed our first ever surgery using the new Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital. Our first patient, Izzy tiger, needed surgery on her front left paw to help fix a bad declaw. We live streamed the surgery to all our Facebook followers and plan to continue doing so for upcoming surgeries and other events that happen at Turpentine Creek.

The surgery went well, Izzy had claw fragments, claw sheaths, and a deformed bone removed from three of her toes. Although the surgery took longer than expected, it went well and after two hours our veterinarian was finished.

We were excited to test out all the new equipment our gracious supporters helped us purchase. We even used our new scale to find out that Izzy weighed 271 pounds! And she is one of the smaller sized tigers at our refuge. We also utilized the IDEXX blood machine to test her blood, her blood test came back clean and let us know that other than her paw she was perfectly healthy.

Izzy has spent the last few days recovering in her night house. We made sure she had antibiotics and pain medicine to keep infections and pain away. After a week she is eager to get back out and play in her habitat. Soon she will be running around in the grass like a cub again.

Izzy-7307

Izzy 1 week after surgery

The local media was just as excited about our vet hospital grand opening and first surgery as we were. Media outlets covered both events and we were happy to answer any questions they had. Both the grand opening and the first surgeries were milestones in the history of Turpentine Creek.

We thank all our supporters for helping us reach this goal and look forward to a bright future with your continued support.

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2016/aug/28/surgery-at-new-clinic-fixes-tiger-izzy-/?f=news-arkansas#/

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Opens Onsite Vet Hospital

Habitat Update

Big Changes Happening on the Lodging Habitat

August 26, 2016

untitled-6898We are always progressing at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Construction is a constant way of life at the refuge. We build bigger and better habitats for our animals, improve old habitats, rebuild habitats, build benches, we build and build and build.

Our most recent project involved a major upgrade to our habitats, raising the fence height and fixing old habitats. This project is nearly completed after over a year of hard work.

The rebuild included the habitats that were located next to our lodging options. This was a very BIG part of the project. We began the update/upgrade/rebuild of the lodging habitat in June, with hopes it would be a quick update and move on. But the project has seen some delays. Inclement weather, new rescues, other habitat needs, and the vet hospital grand opening has caused some significant delays this rebuild.

We are so VERY close to finishing this habitat… days away from completing welding and then we have to finish painting it and getting the interior ready for the new inhabitant(s). Soon we will be moving animal(s) back into the lodging habitats.

Past lodging guests will notice a BIG difference in this lodging habitat, what used to be three habitats (Miss Emmy, Thor, Donna and Pebbles) will now be one BIG habitat. We made the choice to combine habitats because we want our animals to have a lot of space to run and play. So, with some hard work and creativity, the three old habitats have become one big, beautiful, grassy habitat.

untitled-6908We have knocked down two of the three dens, that used to be located in the area, to accomplish this habitat combination, and we also created a walking path between to two largest habitats.

We are still deciding on what animal(s) will call this habitat home once construction is complete. When it comes time to move an animal(s) into the habitat Emily McCormack, our animal curator, will evaluate each animal’s needs and choose the animal(s) that needs the habitat most. Many of our animals are sharing habitats, alternating days of habitat use. Moving an animal from one of those ‘double’ habitats will give two (or two sets of) animals the chance to enjoy a habitat daily.

We are sorry for the inconvenience to our lodging guests, but this update was required for the safety of our animals. No matter what room you are staying in, you can still hear the animals at night and view the animals throughout the day. Our animals safety and happiness is our biggest priority.

Rescue Report Update

Rescue Progress Report

July 29, 2016

Bobby –

Bobby-2715Bobby the Bobcat was rescued from the state of Ohio in January. Bobby is a 17-year-old blind bobcat. When he first arrived he was put in the other half of Bowden the Serval’s habitat. They swapped days in the habitat. At first, Bobby was very shy, but as he got used to the sounds and smells around him he started to venture out into his habitat more often. On July 25th, we decided to move him and introduce him to Boo Boo, our other senior bobcat. Both Boo Boo and Bobby had spent most of their lives living with other bobcats. Our hope is that by introducing the two older bobcats, Bobby will grow more confident in his surroundings and socialize a bit more. The introduction went well. Bobby and Boo Boo sniffed each other and then went about their day, no growling was heard so they seemed to have accepted each other’s company.

Joy –

joy-6353Joy Coyote was given to Turpentine Creek in June, by a wildlife rehabilitator who believed that the melanistic Coyote would not be able to return to the wild. She had been rejected by her mother due to her coloring and being a sickly runt. Through the care of the rehabilitator, she was returned to health and given to Turpentine Creek. Joy has been given a clean bill of health by our veterinarian and has received 2 of her 3 sets of vaccinations. Once she receives her final set of vaccinations we plan to move her up from Rescue Ridge into the visitor area. She is still very wary of humans. Staff sees her exploring her current night house often, and she loves to dig in the dirt, but if someone approaches her habitat she quickly runs and hides in her den. Only time will tell if she becomes comfortable enough with the staff and interns to let us approach her habitat without running away.

Giselle –

Giselle-7218Giselle the Serval was rescued in July. A woman, who is a pet food consultant with many veterinarians, noticed a baby Serval practically living at one of her client’s clinics. The Serval was front declawed and spayed by her owners. The original owners had 3 children under the age of 10 and through a series of unknown events Giselle broke one of her back legs. Finally, the woman approached the vet to see if the owners would relinquish the Serval to her. She is a supporter of Turpentine Creek and knew that if she could not care for the Serval then we could. The owners agreed to give up Giselle and within a week the woman contacted Turpentine Creek to see if we had space for Giselle. Upon arrival at Turpentine Creek, Giselle was housed at Rescue Ridge for a quarantine period. On July 25th, Giselle was moved up to the other half of Bowden the Serval’s habitat. She loves playing on the grass and climbing all over the habitat. The eventual goal is to introduce Bowden and Giselle so that they can both enjoy the habitat on a daily basis. For now, Giselle and Bowden alternate days while the two servals get to know each other’s scent. Giselle is very curious about Bowden but Bowden is still unsure about Giselle.

All three Rescues are doing well and settling into the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Family. We are glad that we can help take care of these three amazing animals. All three rescues are still in need of Adoptors. It is only through your support and help that we can continue to rescue animals in need. Click here to learn more about our adoption program.

Old Habitats Get New Life

Oldest Habitats Get Completely Rebuilt

April 26, 2016

About a month ago we began a complete rebuild of our two oldest habitats. These habitats had served their purpose but with age comes deterioration and new knowledge on better ways to build safer habitats.

denforindia_3This double rebuild is one of the last steps on a complete renovation of our habitats. Late last year we began the task of updating and upgrading all of our habitats. New paint, fixing fences, changing door positions, and other various upgrades were done to the majority of our habitats. It took a lot of work and this update/upgrade project was definitely needed. Thanks to our amazing supporters we were able to get the work done quickly.

For the past few weeks, we have been rebuilding the fence portion of the habitat. We drove new posts, hung new fencing, and created new doors. From the start of the project, it was evident that not only did the fencing need replaced but the old dens needed to be replaced too. So we called in the “heavy machinery” to knock the old ones down. Late last week we were excited to drop the new night houses in place for the two habitats. This is one of the final steps of the rebuild and soon we will be able to release the tigers back into their habitats.

We only have a few habitats left to visit for some updates/upgrades and then Turpentine Creek will look like new! We have been working hard all fall, winter, and spring to get all the construction done on our old habitats. Once this project is completed, we can begin working on building new habitats in what used to be the compound area! We plan to build big, grassy habitats in the area that used to be filled with dozens and dozens of small cages. Those cages had served their purpose, to quickly save animals lives, but now we are focusing on building bigger and better habitats for all the animals we care for.

We do, however, need to think of a new name for the old “compound” area since it is no longer a compound.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach our goal!