Colorado Project Complete

15 Sanctuaries – 25 Road Trips – 115 Exotic Animals Saved

February 28, 2017

Joey, Khaleesi, Lakota and Aurora’s (not pictured) enclosure at Colorado Facility

In just under five months Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a big cat rescue located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, spearheaded the rehoming of 115 animals that were involved in our Colorado Project.

This project was the largest joint effort to rehome big cats in U.S. history. The joint effort of 15 sanctuaries and Tigers In America, a non-profit that assists in the relocation of animals in need to true sanctuaries, made it possible to save 115 animals. This scale of collaboration between sanctuaries has never been done before.

The Colorado Project began on September 21, 2016, when TCWR took over a facility in Colorado. The previous owners were ill and searching for someone to take over the care of their 115 animals. TCWR stepped up and purchased the land, and the animals were donated.

Joey, Khaleesi, and Aurora at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

The final four big cats were delivered safe and sound to their new home at a sanctuary in California on February 10, 2017, just before Valentine’s Day. 73 animals were in their new homes by Thanksgiving, 25 by Christmas and 17 were home before Valentine’s day.

In total, TCWR found homes in 15 sanctuaries, including our own, for 74 tigers, five lions, two ligers, one ti-liger, six leopards, five cougars, two bobcats, one serval, two coatimundis, two caracals, nine bear, and two lemurs. Also, three rented Alligators were returned to their owner, and one wolf hybrid found a new home.

“Our team was honored to spearhead this massive relocation of the 115 animals. We couldn’t have completed the Colorado Project without the help of our partners on this project, Tigers in America, or the 14 other sanctuaries who opened their hearts to the many animals in need,” said Tanya Smith, President of TCWR.

Montana and his brother Poncho’s (Not pictured) enclosure at Colorado Facility

For the duration of the five-month-long project President, Tanya Smith, Vice-President, Scott Smith, one of the senior Animal Care Staff members, and three interns lived in Colorado caring for the animals and helping to move them to their new homes. The remaining TCWR team members stayed in Arkansas to care for the animals at the TCWR facility and keep the non-profit running. Now that the project is complete and all 115 animals have new homes the staff members have returned to Arkansas.

“Although we might have been divided by distance, we were still united in spirit and heart. Everyone continued to keep the mission in mind as they put in long hours to make sure every animal was cared for at both locations. It was a lot of work, but we have a very dedicated team. Finally, the family has been reunited, and we can return to normal, at least until the next rescue begins,” said Emily McCormack, Animal Curator at TCWR.

Montana and Poncho at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Over 40 of the 115 animals that were rehomed have health issues. TCWR took in 3 young white tiger cubs that have Metabolic Bone Disease. Upon TCWR’s arrival at the Colorado Facility, none of the cubs could walk. With extra care, a specialized diet, and constant monitoring, the three cubs now run, play, and wrestle. They will always have some issues due to the Metabolic Bone Disease but should live full lives at TCWR.

With the completion of the Colorado Project, no animals remain at the facility in Colorado and the plan is to leave it closed. Plans for the property are still being discussed, but as of now, there are no plans to return animals to the property.