Category Archives: Turpentine Creek

Serval Survivor

TCWR’s Newest Rescue – Hunter Update

November 12, 2019

Turpentine Creek’s newest resident Hunter, a five-year-old male serval, is settling into his new home here at the Refuge. This lucky exotic cat escaped and survived in the wild not once, but twice, despite being declawed. In 2016, Hunter and a female serval escaped from their owner’s home in New Mexico, only Hunter survived that adventure. Since owning servals is illegal in New Mexico his owner was told to either relocate or give Hunter up, his owner told authorities that he would move.

This year, a serval was captured yet again in New Mexico and through microchip identification they found out that Hunter had never left the state and had went on another survival adventure. His owner claims that he escaped on moving day in 2016. Despite the alleged 3 years in the wild, Hunter was in relatively good shape upon rescue.

After his capture, Hunter spent a few weeks at the Albuquerque BioPark (ABQ) before being transported to his forever home with us. For the first few weeks, he was in quarantine in our Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital, where our staff Veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweely, and animal care team members could keep a close eye on him. During this time, we also had to move some of our animals around to make room for him. Servals are native to Africa and require heated spaces since Arkansas winters can be harsh.

Rescuing Hunter gave us the opportunity to move some of our senior small animal residents, Sadie and Dillian, to Rescue Ridge, where they could ‘retire’ to a life out of the public eye. Tony and Prince were then moved to their old habitat so that they could enjoy having a fellow bobcat as a neighbor. Elvis is very curious about the two young bobcats that are now sharing a habitat wall with him.

Hunter is now enjoying having a whole habitat to himself with a large heated building he can explore. Servals do well in groups or alone and since the other serval habitat already has six cats, five of which are male, it was decided that Hunter would be happier having his own space.

So far, Hunter is enjoying his new home. He spends his days curled up under his rock shelter, climbing benches, and hissing at anyone who he thinks is too close. He hasn’t grown to trust the team… unless food is involved, then he is very willing to come close, nab his snack, and hiss his displeasure. We know that with time, patience, and care, Hunter will learn to trust at least some of the team members and fully settle into life at Turpentine Creek.

Your donations, support, advocacy, and social sharing are what allow us to continue rescuing animals in need. We want to thank you for your dedication and encourage you to help this year during our 2020 Vision: Your Focus. Their Future. Without your help, we cannot make a difference in the lives of big cats across the US.

Please take a moment to decide how you can help.

  • Can you dedicate 5 minutes a week to talking to a stranger about the plight of big cats in captivity?
  • Can you make a promise to share at least 3 posts from Turpentine Creek’s social media accounts each week to help spread the word?
  • Can you start a Facebook fundraiser on your birthday and encourage your friends and family to donate?
  • Can you reach out to your representatives and ask them to support stricter laws on private ownership?
  • Can you crochet blankets and sell them with a portion of the proceeds coming to Turpentine Creek?
  • Can you paint a picture and donate part of those proceeds to the animals?
  • Can you challenge your friends to learn more about the exotic pet trade and open discussions on why it is a bad thing?
  • Can you make a promise to use less palm oil products (or only certified sustainable palm oil)?
  • Can you give up 1 cup of coffee a week to donate that $5 to the Refuge? (That totals $260 over a year!!!)
  • Can you create a poster about the Big Cat Public Safety Act and hang it at your local grocery store?
  • Can you sign up for Amazon Smile and register TCWR as your chosen nonprofit?

There are so many ways to help and we are asking you to take the first step towards a better future for big cats in 2020. Your pledge to join our 2020 Vision will allow us to give animals, like Hunter, a forever home. Get started on our 2020 Vision early on December 3, 2019 for #GivingTuesday and help us, help them.

The Retired Life

Dillian and Sadie Bobcat Move To Rescue Ridge

November 6, 2019

Senior bobcats, Dillian and Sadie, are now enjoying their “retirement!” These beautiful bobcats will be spending their days relaxing in their new, spacious, habitat in the peace of Rescue Ridge. A warm den, lower benches, and of course, new sights, scents, and smells greeted the pair on Tuesday after they were relocated from our Discovery Area to the Rescue Ridge space.

Sadie, who turned eighteen this past May, was the first to go out and explore. Dillian, on the other hand, was a bit stubborn and had to be sedated for the move. We used the opportunity to give the fifteen-year-old bobcat a full exam. Bloodwork showed that Dillian was a little anemic and displayed early signs of kidney disease, but our veterinarian, Dr. Kellyn Sweely, is confident that he is in overall good shape and will be able to enjoy his new home at Rescue Ridge for many years to come.

Dillian enjoying his new habitat at Rescue Ridge

Dillian enjoying his new habitat at Rescue Ridge.

Although Rescue Ridge started out as an extra space for rescues, it has since turned into a retirement area for our older animals. The flatter ground makes it easier for aging animals with achy joints to stroll though their habitats and is more removed from the hustle and bustle up top.

Dillian and Sadie were moved mostly to give them some peace and make room for new animal residents, Hunter the African Serval and bobcats Tony, and Prince. These felines are younger and in need of a change of space.

Because Hunter is an African Serval, he requires a heated building. Our new serval habitat is already full, with six small cats living there, so our only other option was the old serval habitat, which Tony and Prince were occupying.

Tony is all smiles in his new habitat.

Tony is all smiles in his new habitat.

It was decided to move Tony and Prince to Dillian and Sadie’s habitat. As we mentioned, this works out well because Sadie and Dillian’s ages make them perfect residents for life at Rescue Ridge.

With so many animals who have so many varying needs, we are consistently evaluating everything from food to habitats to ensure we are giving them the best care they require day in and day out. We know our visitors miss seeing the animals that are moved to Rescue Ridge, but we are grateful for their understanding of our obligation to make decisions with our animal residents’ wellbeing at the forefront of our minds. In order to limit foot-traffic at Rescue Ridge but still give visitors the chance to visit their favorite older animal residents, we do offer exclusive tours that take you there and behind-the-scenes to learn even more about Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and our work. Visit our website for more information about our exclusive tours and to book one today!

Giving Tuesday 2019

Are You With Us?

October 29, 2019

Today, the typical life of a tiger in the U.S. looks like…

  • A cramped cage.
  • A filthy floor.
  • Green water.
  • Uncertainty of when their next meal will be.
  • Breeding and breeding and breeding then birthing babies only to have them immediately taken away.
  • A painful, treatable infection- but no treatment is given so death is slow and suffering.
  • Shivering as the trainer with a whip commands jumping through a ring of fire…do you jump or be whipped? Which is worse?
  • Being viewed as a disposable, replaceable money-making tool instead of being respected as a wild animal, a sentient being.

Tomorrow could look different, but only if you are willing to help.

In 2020, we will be focusing on the things each one of us can do to change the future for big cats. If each one of you took an action, no matter how small, we could make a radical difference for what the next year- even the next 10 years – looks like for both our animal residents and those who still need to be rescued. We want 2020 to be the catalyst for major change. Decades from now, we want to look back and remember it as the year that got us where we are.

Our 2020 vision is a bold one, and we are using Giving Tuesday 2019 as our kickoff by setting an equally bold fundraising goal. It’s our most ambitious Giving Tuesday yet, but we know you will make it a success! Please join us Tuesday, December 3, to #GiveFocus and #GiveFuture as you give your support to our $40,000 Giving Tuesday goal that will launch us into our 2020 Campaign- 2020 Vision: Your Focus. Their Future.

You are always so quick to praise us and the work that we do. We are grateful, but you are the real heroes. Without you, where would we be? Likely, still in the tiny space some of you may remember from decades ago, with animals in a better place than they were before their rescue but still not in the best environment they could be in. Without you, “ethical tourism,” and “ethical entertainment” would be phrases unheard of and the conversation surrounding how we treat wildlife in the U.S. would be nonexistent. You are a part of our team and dare we say, the most crucial part.

Participating in Giving Tuesday means taking a tangible action to craft the future big cats deserve. Your support will lay a solid foundation for going into the New Year secure in our ability to care for our animal residents and brazen enough to ask “What more can we do?” We are ready to take our standards of care, our education, our advocacy to the next level! We are ready to think bigger and act bigger! Change CAN happen within our lifetime for big cats- are you with us?

Click hear to learn more about Giving Tuesday, December 3, and all the ways (including non-monetary) you can get involved. Stay tuned for information on the give-aways, special videos, and other celebrations we will be having that day!

As the first small action you take, please click here and mark “going” on our Giving Tuesday event on Facebook. This will help you stay up-to-date and spread the word to others about our campaign.

Protecting Black Cats Big And Small

Persecution and Superstition Against Black Cats Big And Small

October 23, 2019

Big cats are dangerous animals and, in the wild, they can be misconstrued and are often killed for following their natural instincts. Even big cats born and bred in captivity still have their natural instincts. Spyke, for example, might have been raised at TCWR after his mother rejected him, but he still likes to ‘hunt’ team members and visitors through the fence; He will stalk and pounce at anything that catches his attention. He also loves to climb, a natural instinct for leopards, who tend to drag their prey into trees to protect it from scavengers and other predators. Acting on these wild instincts, Spyke can often be found demolishing pumpkins, paper bags, and any other enrichment item you place in his habitat.

In the wild, leopards, like Spyke, face major problems such as habitat loss and reduction of prey numbers. Leopards located near livestock farms will often find it much more convenient to make a meal out of the livestock than to hunt their natural prey; This causes conflict with the farmers and local towns and will often lead to the killing of the leopards. Habitat loss and trophy hunting also contribute to the decline in leopard populations.

These beautiful animals are also used symbolically. In some South African cultures, leopards are killed for their pelts to be worn as a sign of pride, beauty, and wealth. The myth that you can gain power from the pelt of an animal you kill is contributing to the population decline. Fortunately, many of these tribes are beginning to use faux fur pelts in the place of real pelts for these ceremonial purposes.

Around this time of year, black cats can be quite popular. They can be found in almost all Halloween movies, shows, and decorations. So yes, cats, even large ones like leopards, can have certain mythical or spiritual connections. These affiliations oftentimes lead to unfortunate circumstances, just like with leopards and the desire for their pelts.

Much like larger wild relatives, black domestic cats are unfairly judged, especially around Halloween. Unfortunately, some people see these cute little felines as bad luck or even as a sign of evil. Sometimes, these unfounded superstitions can lead to dangerous situations for our own little “house panthers” and “lap lions.”

During the month of October, many animal shelters across the country do not allow the adoption of black cats; Some places will not adopt out cats at all. Some shelters site the risk of torturing or killing black cats for cult rituals, or just acts of spite, as reason for the ban on adoption. People often only adopt black cats as props for Halloween, but then have no use for them after the festivities have ended. Because of this, many shelters have also seen a higher return or abandonment rate of black cats after Halloween.

Creating awareness and educating the public about the plight of cats, big and small, is vital to their futures. To learn more about leopards, visit our Leopard Species Page. You can also come to visit us on the evening of October 25th for our annual Howloween Spooktacular, to see that black cats, or black leopards like Spyke, aren’t always bad luck!

A Spooktacular Event

You’re Invited For Our Annual Howl-O-Ween Event!

October 15, 2019

Our annual Howl-O-Ween Spooktacular has been a hit the past 24 years, and we’re excited to bring our family-friendly celebration back Friday, October 25, from 7 PM – 9 PM. You read that right, we are moving our Howl-O-Ween Spooktacular event to Friday this year! We keep things age-friendly meaning the spookiest section of the Refuge is clearly marked and curtained off for the little ones who might get too frightened.

Put on your favorite costume and see if you have the ghostly grit to win one of our costume contests or compete against other sneaky spooks in a variety of games! Bob along like candied apples in our bounce house and curb your zombie-like hunger with goodies from our concession stand (brains not served). You can also enjoy mystical entertainment by magician Carlos David Magic! Not to mention, the most exciting part:

This is your one chance of the year to see our big cats in a whole new light: after dark!

We will be giving guided hayride tours to all attendees. Most of our animal residents are highly active at night. The Refuge decorations and bustling of costume-clad princesses and werewolves provide engaging enrichment that gets them excited!

See if you can spot the stripes of our tiger residents in the moonlight! Tigers are literally built for hunting after the sun goes down. When the moon hits their stripes, their bodies appear “broken up,” making it difficult for their prey to differentiate between predator and shadows! Their eyes contain more rods than cones; rods are used to identify shapes while cones process color. A higher rod-count allows them to detect movement in their nighttime environment when seeing in clear color would not be useful.

Lions sometimes hunt at night but are much more opportunistic with their schedules. Typically, hunting after dusk is beneficial to this breed of felines because their eyesight and stealth is more efficient than their prey’s. It is also much cooler, which benefits lions in two ways. First, they aren’t having to exert themselves as they would under the baking Savannah sun. Second, prey like antelope stores body heat then releases it at night, which means their muscles are weaker at that time, making them an easy meal for a hungry lion!

You’ve likely observed our leopard residents idly perching high upon the natural features placed throughout their habitat during your daytime visit. This is how they spend their days in the wild but at night is when they come out to find food! Like lions, they are often opportunistic with their hunts, but because they solitarily search for prey in the hot sun without a powerful band of teammates to help out, nighttime is their best time. They prefer ambushing predators from the shadows of trees and are hesitant to waste energy on a long chase if their sneak attack fails.

Our African Serval residents are actually considered “crepuscular,” which means they are more active during twilight, but will occasionally emerge at night. Our bear residents may be snoozing in their dens during the Spooktacular, as this species commonly checks their bear-necessities off their to-do lists from dawn until dusk, though in certain areas with high human populations, some have adapted a nocturnal lifestyle to avoid human contact. In the wild, cougars take a similar approach by going out during dawn, dusk, and at night to stay away from people. Bobcats are naturally nocturnal. This habit allows them to remain elusive, as well.

We hope you can join us Friday, October 25, and experience Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge like you never have before!

The Price Of Life

Is a Bobcat Worth More Alive or Dead?

October 8, 2019

Have you ever wondered how valuable a bobcat is? We know that they are very important to the environments that they live in for a variety of reasons, one of which being prey population management. But, sometimes bobcat furs are sold in order to make money. In the United States, a single pelt can be sold for an average of $416.

You might think that that is a lot of money. However, in Madison, Wyoming, a bobcat, known as the Madison River bobcat, makes much more than that; He does this by just being alive. Did you know that tourists make a special trip to Madison Wyoming every year? This special trip is made in order to witness and photograph this particular bobcat that is located on the Madison River. Bobcats are very aloof, and therefore difficult to see in the wild. Even in National Parks, like Yellowstone, these small cats are rarely seen by the public. A fact that makes seeing one in the wild all the more special, and people flock to this area in order to see one of the most elusive wild cat species in North America.

The lead scientist for Panthera’s puma program compiled a list of ecotourism costs that were associated with this particular bobcat and the many people that go to see and document the cat in one year. By interviewing guides, photographers, and other tourists that visited the area, he determined that in one year, those people collectively spent $308,105 on guide services, equipment, hotel costs, and revenue earned from photo sales.

Given this information, the value of a bobcat decreases by nearly 1000 times by killing it. This study is incredibly valuable to proving that the bobcat is worth much more alive than dead. It might seem odd to associate a monetary value with a living creature. But, in a world that is constantly using economic value to make legal, ethical, and personal decisions, it is vital that our society is aware of these lesser-known values.

For more information about our elusive neighbor, the bobcat, please visit our Species Information Page, or come visit us at Turpentine Creek to see our bobcat residents, learn their stories, and see for yourself how valuable a bobcat’s life is!

The Rest Of The Story

What 20/20 Left Out Of Their Siegfried And Roy Special

October 1, 2019

This past Friday, 20/20’s premier show featured Siegfried and Roy, two names that are recognized worldwide for their magic show performances that included white tigers along with a menagerie of other exotic animals. Their show ran in one form or another for over 30 years, but ended when one of the magicians, Roy, was almost killed by one of their white tigers, Mantacore.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was interviewed by a 20/20 team about the mistreatment of these animals, why magic shows are detrimental to the health of the animals, and about white tiger inbreeding. Sadly, the interview with Turpentine Creek’s big cat experts, President Tanya Smith and Animal Curator Emily McCormack, was reduced to a short five-minute segment that focused solely on the inbreeding of white tigers.

“These are inbred animals that all come back to one animal: the first white tiger that was captive. Mohan was bred back to his daughter to try to produce this white tiger, so that is where the inbreeding came about,” explained Emily McCormack on the 20/20 episode.

Afterward, 20/20 correspondent Deborah Roberts claimed, “There have been no reports of abnormalities with Siegfried and Roy’s white tigers. In fact, they say they practice conscientious breeding to avoid mating tigers that are closely related, and they say they stopped breeding tigers back in 2015.”

Despite this argument, factual information dictates that all white tigers are related. Though Siegfried and Roy may not have been breeding brother and sister or mother and son, absolutely no white tiger breeding is truly “conscientious.” Also, there may have been no reported “abnormalities” with the magicians’ tigers, but all white tigers share the same faulty genetics and predisposition for a number of diseases and deformities.

Roberts then brought up Kenny, a white tiger rescued by TCWR nearly 2 decades ago, who became the “poster child” for the problems of inbreeding after a photo of him falsely claiming he had Down Syndrome went viral.

“One who is kind of famous, Kenny, that we rescued back in 2000, he was deformed in the face, McCormack recalled. “A lot of [white tigers] are very visibly cross-eyed.”

McCormack reminded everyone that when it comes to ensuring other white tigers don’t suffer as Kenny did, “education is key.”

The chance to provide true education, however, was short-lived. McCormack’s small segment was the only true argument against the behind-the-scenes life of Siegfried and Roy’s act featured on the two-hour season premiere, other than the occasional brief comment about how dangerous the show potentially was. There were multiple quick clips about how there was no barrier between the audience and the tigers, the potential danger to the audience and performers, and how there was never any “major” incident before the October 3, 2003 incident. But what qualifies as major? Would a lion taking a “chunk” out of Roy, who then required 33 stitches just from the swipe of a paw not be seen as major? Or one of the many other unnamed and so-called “minor” accidents that happened over the years? Rather than delving into the true dangers of the act, the segment shifted focus to people happily petting cute little cubs.

In an old interview used in the feature, former Mirage Hotel Owner, Steve Wynn, recalled the day before the attack, saying he had discussed the threat of the powerful tigers with Roy. Wynn told Roy the most miraculous thing the illusionist had done was make millions of people forget these animals are dangerous. This comment emphasized that many people are hypnotized by this illusion, believing it is safe to keep a tiger or other large feline as a pet. Sadly, when the trance fades to reality, the true risks are revealed.

Many issues that are currently being discussed in headlines were completely ignored by the creators of the ABC segment, which we feel was a missed opportunity for creating a more balanced report. For example, H.R. 1380 – The Big Cat Public Safety Act, a bill banning hands-on interaction by the public with animals like those used in Siegfried and Roy’s act and requiring barriers to protect audiences was recently voted on by the House of Representatives Oceans, Water, and Wildlife subcommittee to be presented to the floor. This bill will revolutionize the modern treatment of big cats in captivity, especially those used for profit, yet there was no mention of it in the piece.

Laws pertaining to declawing animals have also been a subject of recent debates and easily ties into magic shows since this method is often used to make the preforming animals “safer.” Another side of the story could have highlighted the dangers of obtaining a big cat and treating it like a pet.  Though many of these topics were very briefly touched on, it was not done so in a light that educated people on the detriments of such actions.

ABC’s entire episode of “Siegfried and Roy” painted an idealistic but unrealistic picture of living and working with deadly predators. It might have audiences believing the connection between the owner and the animal is “magical” and perfectly safe. The camera would often cut to the animals roaming freely around Siegfried and Roy’s home. Although it was good that these animals had so much space to live in, the problem is people tend to mimic what they see. When audiences see big cats living with humans, they think it is okay to have a tiger living with them, failing to realize their situation is far from the same. Most people cannot afford the proper space for the animals, they do not have the same security, or the same allowance for food and veterinary care. Unlike Siegfried and Roy, they might even have children or neighbors that are being put in danger daily due to their attempt to trap a tiger or lion in their home all because of the fantasy portrayed by the magicians’ lives.

Our organization was originally excited about the opportunity to bring big cat advocacy and education to a platform that would reach millions on a national scale. When Emily McCormack and Tanya Smith were interviewed, we were informed the second half of the 20/20 “Siegfried and Roy” special would show the other side of magic shows, focusing on why they are unhealthy for the animals forced to perform and the negative message they send to the public.

Sadly, the two-hour special seemed to be a very long promotion for Siegfried and Roy’s upcoming biography movie. It is our hope, however, that the brief moment we were given to share facts made an impact. Even if only one person came away with a new perspective on white tiger breeding, with a newfound drive to educate and advocate, the experience was a positive one.

Fair Game

Fairs, Circuses, and Traveling Shows Profit at the Expense of Animal Welfare

September 25, 2019

Let’s get real: If you can attend a show and see an animal being forced to engage in unnatural behaviors (especially by being poked, prodded, or whipped) and walk away feeling good, then you aren’t actually thinking about what you are seeing. We understand; it’s cool to see a “wild animal” doing all kinds of kooky, amazing feats, and it’s zero percent fun to think about what you’re actually watching: abuse.

Yes, traveling shows are legal, but that doesn’t change what you are seeing. The tigers or lions you see responding to the commands of the trainer are doing so out of fear. When a trainer uses a whip or a prod to control them during the act, they respond because they know the pain that tool can inflict. A tiger trainer named Wade Burck who worked for the Ringling Bros. was once quoted describing the “aggressive” methods he had to use during training because when it comes to tigers, “they aren’t capable of thinking like I do.” A tiger is a wild, dangerous animal, no matter if it was taken from its natural habitat or raised in captivity. In order to get the animal to perform the awesome stunts audiences get to observe, it has to be put in its place by a person who is more frightening than it is.

For the people who make a living off the suffering of these poor animals, there are other modifications that can bend them to their will. Thurston, a white tiger who lives at the Refuge, was used in a magic show and has been struggling with lasting psychological trauma, as well as physical pain from being declawed and having his teeth filed down to make him “safer” to work with. Drugging animals is another common tactic used to make them more compliant.

We were recently alerted to this type of abuse taking place in our own backyard. The Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair made the decision to use “Nergers Tigers” (also known as “Nerger’s Splendid Tigers”) to draw attention to their event. The Nerger’s tiger show has been taking place multiple times a day since Friday, September 20, and will continue through Saturday, September 28.

We shared information on social media regarding the Nerger’s history and reached out to fair officials, as well as local media. It was disheartening and left us sick when we found that fair officials showed no interest in reconsidering their decision and the media seemed more interested in the cheeky comments of those profiting from the show than the actual education we were attempting to provide.

Even worse, our friends at Jen’s Kitty Rehab planned to hand out information advocating for all cats, big and small. They were told by fair officials that they could not discuss anything “tiger-related” or have any “tiger-related” literature at their booth.

We received painful video footage of a September 21st performance at the Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair that shows the tigers being prompted to perform through the use of whips. The trainers used prods to the face and body with the whip or handle to ‘encourage’ the animals to complete each trick upon command. At one point, they were forced to jump through a flaming hoop, something we would even be scared to do. One tiger tried to resist, but of course, had no choice, which resulted in him slipping and falling onto the platform he was being forced to leap to.

As heartbreaking as the situation is and for as much resistance as we have encountered, we have also had a positive outpouring of action from our wonderful supporters, who are rallying to do the right thing for the animals. Multiple people outside of our organization have sent emails, letters, and made phone calls to fair officials, state legislators, and even the Humane Society of the United States has reached out to the fair without any prompting from us. One supporter has organized a peaceful protest outside the fairgrounds for Saturday, September 28. People who can’t attend are writing letters, contacting others, and even donating to provide snacks and drinks for the event! We have received messages from people who are now advocating for bills to protect big cats in captivity and who are contacting fair boards in their own areas ahead of time to request that they make ethical choices regarding the type of entertainment they use!

It all goes to remind us that we (“we” as in not just TCWR, but YOU!) are making a difference! We are winning! The animals are winning! For every hateful collective who unabashedly cares about profit over protection, there are hundreds more who are willing to come together and move towards a positive future that will be life-changing for tigers, lions, bears, and all others trapped in the entertainment industry.

It’s 2019, it’s time to stop using wild animals for props and playthings. You can take action today by asking your state representatives to support the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA, H.R. 2863), which will prohibit the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling performances.

For more information regarding what truly goes on behind the scenes of traveling shows, feel free to read this blog post:

You, Us, and Them

How True Sanctuaries Are Working Together To End The Big Cat Trade

September 17, 2019

2018 BCSA Conference At TCWR

Several Turpentine Creek team members have been attending the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA) Conference this week. All members of the BCSA are working towards a unified goal: a future where sanctuaries (like Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge) are no longer needed because private ownership and the commercial exploitation of big cats have been ended. Though “true” sanctuaries and ethical establishments upholding the highest standards of care for big cats are outnumbered by the population of roadside zoos, traveling shows, and inhumane breeding facilities, we are not discouraged. By working together, we know we can build a brighter future for big cats.

The sheer number of shoddy facilities operating under the guise of “pay-to-play” establishments or even falsely using the word “sanctuary” in their name despite being nothing but tiger mills is one of many reasons why the need for an organization like the BCSA is more crucial now than ever before. For decades, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has networked and created connections with a number of ethical animal welfare organizations. Those connections truly came through in 2016 when we were tasked with rescuing and rehoming 115 animals from an animal exhibitor park in Colorado. The animals were living in squalor, many were sick and injured, and all were under immense psychological strife. We had to save them, but how? We simply did not have room for over 100 new animal residents. Enter more True Sanctuary All-Stars.

Over the course of 6 months, all animals were rehomed to reputable refuges, with 34 coming to our own. What would have happened to the other animals if we absolutely could not take them and there were no other true sanctuaries in existence? Thankfully, we didn’t have to find out. However, as the Exotic Pet Trade’s network continues to grow, the issue of space is always in our thoughts. Right now, we are confident we can work with members of the BCSA and other true sanctuaries should another large undertaking like the Colorado Rescue occur, but we hope we never see the day when the supply of sanctuary and it’s demand become unbalanced. The only way to ensure that day never comes is by ending the Trade, which is just another thing true sanctuaries are working together to do.

In a joint effort, we are educating the public about the many challenges big cats are facing at the hands of the Trade, both in captivity and in the wild. By combining forces, we are able to reach more people than ever and build a team of passionate citizens to advocate for big cats. From supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act to spreading awareness about the difference between a real sanctuary and a “scam-suary,” we rely on people like you as our allies.  Here are some ways you can team up with Turpentine Creek and the BCSA to make an impact:

Do you have any other tips on working together to spark change for big cats? If so, feel free to add to the conversation on Twitter (@turpentinecreek) or in our Facebook Group (@TurpentineCreekWildlifeRefugeGroup).

Feline Fall Fun

As Temps Cool Big Cats Grow More Active

September 10, 2019

Summers at TCWR are always busy with our daily visitors, day camps, private group tours, and many other events. Visitors enjoy observing the animals splashing around in their pools and enjoying their cool summer treats such as meatcicles. As the Summer season comes to an end and we prepare for the cool crisp air of Fall, we will continue to offer additional educational opportunities to everyone that visits TCWR. Whether it is our daily tours, special educational activities, keeper talks, or workshops there is something for everyone at the refuge.

The Fall is a special time of year for us here at the refuge for multiple reasons, such as the kick-off of our school group season. We love helping the youth of today discover how they can help animals now and in the future. TCWR hosts school groups not only from the Northwest Arkansas area, but from districts in other regions of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We also conduct classroom visits via Skype to schools in further areas of the United States and around the world that cannot make it out to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. So when visiting the Refuge, you might see groups of bright-eyed children discovering how to become young wildlife advocates.

Fall not only brings cool crisp air for our animal residents and visitors to enjoy, it also brings the season for pumpkins. All of our animals love to play with their pumpkin enrichment, the cats love smashing them while others such as our bears enjoy eating them. While visiting TCWR this Fall, if you have any pumpkins that you would like to donate, our animals would love to have them as a new seasonal toy. The Fall season also means that our Annual Spooktacular family-friendly event is just around the corner. This is the one night a year that visitors can come out and enjoy seeing the cats at night as we take you on a hayride around our tour loop. We invite you to join us on Oct. 25th for this year’s Spooktacular and to visit our website for more details on the event and how you can get involved.

Whether you are visiting with your family or your child is on a field trip to TCWR, the Fall offers many different ways to see our cats enjoying the cooler weather and provides unique opportunities for you to get involved.  Fall is the perfect time to spend a day at the Refuge, plan your next visit today!