Category Archives: Turpentine Creek

Subarctic Temperatures In The Ozarks

Blustering Cold Weather At Turpentine Creek

February 18, 2021

This week, a few of our big cats may be getting flashbacks of their ancestral home as an arctic front has lingered over much of the central United States.Temperatures, well below what Alaska is currently experiencing, have stalled in our area, bringing activity at the Refuge to a screeching halt. Although our African cats don’t like the cooler weather, many of our tigers can be found romping and playing, despite the freezing cold. Their thick winter coats and the option to snuggle up in a den that is much warmer than the outside air keeps them from feeling the chill.

Subzero temperatures with additional wind chills have our team walking a thin line; we must care for our animals, make sure they have food, warm bedding, and plenty of water, but with the steep hills and freezing temperatures it isn’t safe for our team to spend excessive time outdoors. The temperature and slick grounds have also given the additional hurdle that many of our vehicles will not start or cannot make it up the slippery slopes. So, we have had to get creative.

In addition we have a new dilemma, the freezing temperatures have frozen many of our water pipes and sadly a few have even burst! Bam Bam’s water pipes have been destroyed, water spigots have burst, and water lines to housing are frozen solid. Our maintenance team has been managing as much as possible, but this will be a large project to fix, once the temperatures begin to rise this weekend.

We also supply heating to our African and senior animals. Like many other people affected by the extreme weather, we are quickly depleting our gas supply and the electric bill will be much higher this month. All of this is on top of the fact that we have had to close and have lost lodging reservations due to the weather.

Please donate $10-$25 (the cost of an admission ticket) to help us recuperate some of our lost income and cover the additional expenses such as water pipe repair and higher utility bills. Your support is what allows us to keep our animals warm, fed, and watered during these extreme weather conditions.

Extreme Weather At TCWR

Keeping Everyone Safe When The Weather Gets Bad

February 10, 2021

These past few years, Turpentine Creek has been lucky enough to have mild winters with only some scattered snowfall and winter weather. This year, however, has been a little more eventful. We’ve had multiple snow days with inches of snow accumulating on the ground. These snowy play days are a lot of fun for the big cats and our team members. Snowmen, snowball fights, and snow piles are fun to romp in and rarely cause any issue. This week is a bit different. Our forecast was filled with freezing rain, sleet, slushy snow, and below freezing temperatures. This makes for a very cold, slick, work and living environment. Due to this, we have decided to suspend tours until at least Monday, February 15, 2021.

All week we’ve been battling with frozen locks, slippery hills, ice incrusted food bowls, and frozen water. Being outside, caring for the animals, in these extremes can be dangerous, and so to protect our people and animals we decided to stop tours for a few days. This will allow our team to quickly and safely care for the animals and get out of the weather as soon as possible.

Luckily, our big cats have very few issues with the cold temperatures. Senior animals and African animals all have heated dens to snuggle up in. The rest of our animals have warm bedding and dens that typically are 20 or more degrees warmer than the outside air. Their thick fur coats were made for cold temperatures and their dinners are served to them on a ‘silver’ platter so they don’t have to go out into the cold to hunt for food. They get fresh water multiple times a day so they also don’t have to worry about frozen over water dishes.

Please stay safe and warm during these blustering cold winter days. We appreciate your support and ask, if you can, to donate the price of an adult admission ticket $25 to help us recuperate the lost income from needing to be closed during one of our busiest winter weekends – Valentine’s Day. Have a fun and safe weekend!

Will You Be My Meow-lentine

TCWR Online Auction To Support The Animals

February 3, 2021

Join us this weekend for our annual online Valentine’s auction! Our Be My Meow-lentine auction gives you the opportunity to give a unique gift that has the added benefit of helping support the animals that call Turpentine Creek home!

Starting Friday, February 7, 2021, at 8 am CST the auction runs until Sunday, February 9, 2021, at 8 pm CST. 

The auction offers 145 unique and fun items to bid on ranging from key chains created by our big cats, unique art, collectibles, jewelry, and even an old tiger pool that has been turned into a bench with a cooler! Item bidding for most items starts at $0! You could take home something (or a few somethings) special for your Valentine!

We hope that you can join us for this feline fine Valentine’s online event!

Check Out The Auction Here!

An Amazing Experience

Winter Time At The Refuge

January 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating One Year Of Freedom

Luna And Remington’s Rescue Anniversary

January 20, 2021

Remington at Florida Facility

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luna at TCWR

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

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

Remington at TCWR

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

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

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

Big Cat Public Safety Act Reintroduced in 117th Congress Session

A New Chance To Save Lives

January 13, 2021

A bill to protect exotic cats from abuse and neglect, as well as the public from the danger that comes with improper owners being able to obtain theses animals, has been reintroduced into the House as H.R. 263, The Big Cat Public Safety Act. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, is asking our supporters to rally behind this bill and reach out to your US House Representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the bill! Last session, the bill passed through the house with 2/3 majority vote, we are confident with your help we can quickly get this bill passed through the house again. The text of this bill has not changed, it just has a new number in this new Congressional Session.

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

According to Representative Mike Quigley, who reintroduced the bill Tuesday, unregulated private ownership of wild exotic felines leads to dismal lives for the animal and poses a danger to individuals who may have to intervene when an incident occurs, such as EMTs and law enforcement.

“Animals like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas simply do not belong in private ownership. Not only does it place the public, including law enforcement and first responders, in grave danger – it also often results in these animals living in miserable conditions,” Quigley told Brianna Grant with the Earth Island Journal.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been advocating for the bill for several years. Because we provide a lifetime home to abused and neglected big cats, our team has observed first-hand what happens within the “Big Cat Trade.”

TCWR President, Tanya Smith, also spoke to Grant in the article about the reintroduction of the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

In the article on, Grant recounted her interview with Smith, writing “that animals in the cub petting industry often suffer from health issues. One common ailment is metabolic bone disease — a condition where bones become weak and easily break — which can result from cubs being taken away from their mothers and fed formula lacking essential nutrients. Smith says this is often done to keep cubs small and hungry for bottle-feeding sessions with visitors. ‘We actually rescued three tigers that couldn’t even walk when we got there. They were dragging themselves around and they were still put on display,” she says.’”

We have worked quickly to update our advocacy page and information to reflect this reintroduction and the bill’s new assigned number H.R. 263. We are also working with other sanctuaries to get the bill reintroduced to the Senate as quickly as possible.

We are hopeful that this bill will quickly pass. Out of the 230 co-signers on the House Bill last session 205 kept their seats in the House; only 13 co-sponsors from majority if the old co-sponsors do so again. Out of the 41 Co-sponsors in the senate 37 kept their seats; only 14 co-sponsors from majority if the old co-sponsors do so again.

Your message to congress could make all the difference, please visit our advocacy page to message your House Representatives TODAY! With your help, we could see the end of the Big Cat Trade before this year is over!

Grant’s full article about the bill can be read at

New Year, Same Us!

Welcome To 2021: The Big Cat Trade Ends Here!

January 6, 2021

The beginning of a new year brings many exclamations of “New year, new me!,” but at TCWR, we view it as “New year, same us!” As in all years past, we are continuing to focus on creating a better future for big cats, one day at a time. We are grateful that you have chosen to continue this fight with us!

As we’ve already recounted many times, 2020 was tough, but was filled with so much joy. From the twelve animals you saved to the progress made on the Big Cat Public Safety Act, it was easy to find pockets of peace and evidence of progress even in unprecedented adversity. This has left us going into 2021 with strength, hope, and confidence that big cat lives will continue to change for the better.

Last year, we created a pledge that many of you participated in. It listed 10 simple steps to help end the Big Cat Trade and protect vulnerable animals. Many of our rescues came from significant criminals working within the Big Cat Trade, and the Big Cat Public Safety Act caught the attention of politicians unlike ever before. This happened as the result of hundreds of you taking the 10 simple steps throughout 2020. We are confident that the Big Cat Public Safety Act will be re-submitted in a few short months, and we are going to need your help to get it passed quickly!

We are resharing the 10 simple steps once again to continue the fight and help you find inspiration each day for the coming 12 months:

  1. Share at least 1 post of Turpentine Creek’s
  2. Tell at least 1 friend about why big cats make bad pets
  3. Educate at least 1 person about what a True Sanctuary is
  4. Create at least 1 social fundraiser to help raise funds to save big cats
  5. Make at least 1 post to share why you support facilities like Turpentine Creek and what they do
  6. Volunteer at least 1 hour of your time helping to raise awareness about big cats in captivity (digitally, in person, or at a facility)
  7. Find at least 1 way to utilize your own personal talents to benefit big cats in captivity
  8. Recruit at least 1 person to help the Big Cat cause
  9. Send at least 1 email to my federal government representatives to inform them about the plight of big cats in captivity
  10. Respond to at least 1 social post telling others why I support Turpentine Creek

If you’d like to do more, please consider becoming a recurring donor! Recurring donors are who kept us going when resources were stretched thin in 2020, and we incurred about $120,000 of new animal care expenses for our 12 rescues. As an added bonus, the COVID-19 Relief Bill has extended up to $300 in charitable donations through 2022, meaning recurring donors can qualify for even more tax breaks. On top of that, we have created an easy-to-use employer match tool on our website, which allows you to see if your place-of-work will double or even triple your charitable donations! It’s a win-win for you, our animal residents, and yes, even your boss. You can sign up to become a recurring donor and use our matching tool at

Here we go! Welcome to 2021.

The Trade ends here!

Finishing Off 2020 Strong

Ending The Year On The Right Paw

December 31, 2020

The longest year of many of our lives, 2020, is finally coming to an end. This year has been filled with the ‘highest highs’ and the ‘lowest lows’. We have saved the lives of 12 animals, but have also had to say goodbye to many of our long-term residents and let them pass on to the next life. We have had to make adjustments for COVID, but have seen our supporters rally behind our cause in so many ways. This year, we count our blessings, one of which is YOU!

We’ve changed, adapted, and came out stronger than ever before! We made amazing progress on the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which made it through the US House of Representatives with a 2/3 ‘yes’ vote! We’ve seen long time animal abusers put in jail, cub-petting facilities shut down, and so much more this year! Awareness of the plight of exploited big cats has become a national sensation and a ‘hot button’ topic for many people.

So much has changed in 2020, many of those changes are positive. We cannot wait to see what 2021 will hold for our big cats and Turpentine Creek! We are hopeful that next year will be filled with hope and more progress towards protecting big cats, putting an end to private ownership of big cats, and hands-on interaction with big cats.

One small blessing that we count is that this year, within the COVID relief bill, was a special stipulation to help encourage charitable giving! If you typically take standard deductions (over itemized) you can now claim up to $300 per person in charitable giving on top of the standard deductions! By supporting your favorite nonprofit in 2020 you will be given a little extra when it comes time to file taxes! If you do itemize your deductions, the bill allows you to deduct contributions of up to 100% of your 2020 Adjusted Gross Income! And corporate donations limits have been increased from 10% to 25%! We hope these small incentives can help you while you help us get through our slowest season of the year!

We also have a $1 for $1 matching donation available for end of year giving for up to $50,000! From now until January 1st, all donations made up to $50,000 will be matched! Make your donation go even further by donating now! 

If you are wanting to make a 2020 qualified tax donation you must either do an online donation by midnight tonight (12/31/2020) or have a check put in the mail before the day is over!

Your donation of even $10 will help us continue to care for the 88 big cats, bears, and other animals that call Turpentine Creek home. Winter is our slowest season, after an already slow year. We appreciate your support and hope that together we can end 2020 strong!

Christmas At TCWR

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas

December 25, 2020

Reminder: We are closed on Christmas Day to allow our team time to enjoy the holiday together.

This year, Christmas might look a little different than we are all used to. Instead of spending the day surrounded by extended family and friends, we are all Zooming and enjoying small household celebrations. Even at Turpentine Creek, our team is celebrating differently; we still are closed for Christmas Day, but instead of a large party, we enjoyed a fun Zoom holiday get-together a few days ago. Our team will not be gathering together this year on Christmas day. It will be a day of rest, reflection, and fun video calls to family.

Our cats will be all snug in their dens, visions of peppermint-scented boxes dancing in their heads. Our team spent some time feeding the animals this morning and making sure that they had plenty of fresh water. Team members will also periodically check on them throughout the day. Caring for big cats is a 365/366 day a year job; even when we close to the public for Christmas, we take a little time to care for the animal residents.

We want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has given Turpentine Creek gifts this year, from Boomer Ball enrichment, boxes, perfume, and pumpkins, to monetary donations and grants; your support this year has helped Turpentine Creek continue its mission throughout this global pandemic.

After all the gifts have been unwrapped, food eaten, and wrapping paper cleaned up, we hope that you will consider giving one additional gift to Turpentine Creek. A small gift of $10 will help us carry our mission into 2021: a year of hope and new adventures!

Also, for those who are local, if you had a live tree this year, please consider donating it to Turpentine Creek after you have removed all the decorations. The animals LOVE destroying Christmas Trees! It must be a real tree, all decorations removed, and you cannot have used tensile on it.

Thank you for getting us through a year that has been truly like no other. While we might be aware of what’s going on in the world, thanks to you, our animal residents have no idea. All they know is they are loved, happy, and fed. For us, that’s the best present we could ask for.

Winter Wonderland At TCWR

First Snowfall Of The Year

December 16, 2020

Turpentine Creek is currently a winter wonderland for both our big cats and people! The beautiful Ozark Mountains got between 3 ½ and 6 inches of snowfall on Sunday! The snow blanketed the Refuge, giving the big cats a bunch of fluffy, white natural enrichment to enjoy for a few days. In the past, Turpentine Creek has gotten feet of snow at a time, but over the past five years we have been sorely lacking in snow. Each year we have gotten only a dusting that has melted in hours, but this first snowfall of the year covered the ground and has stuck around for days afterward.

Tigers love the cold, they tend to be the most active in the cooler months. This snow day was particularly enjoyable to them since not only did they have a nice cool day but also fluffy white snow falling from the sky and collecting on the ground. Many of our tigers romped, played, jumped, pounced, and stalked in the snow for days! Some tigers were extra feisty chasing habitat mates through snow piles. Our white tigers got a little extra camouflage for a few days and took the opportunity to stalk team members.

Although the snow slowed down our human tasks, we enjoyed taking a little extra time to watch the animals play in the snow. It was a sight to behold and a wonderful feeling to see the animals having so much fun.

Winter is typically our slowest time of the year, even though it is the most active time for tigers. Because the snow made our tour path impassable, we had to suspend tours for two days. Please consider donating the price of an adult admission of $25 to help us make up for the lack of visitor income for those two snow days.