Abandoned lioness given a second chance at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
This June, Turpentine Creek rescued a nameless, elderly lioness. Lady, as she was named by one of our longtime supporters, was one of four female big cats living in an abandoned roadside zoo in Adair, Oklahoma. The attraction had been shut down by the USDA in 2008 for safety and animal welfare violations. It allegedly had ties to Joe Exotic.
Who fed and checked on the lion, tiger hybrid and two tigers? A man who lived nearby brought the big cats food and water sporadically. However, this was still no way for these predators to live, in cramped cages, surrounded by filth. “You hear about these facilities that get in trouble for animal welfare violations, and then they get shut down, what happens to all those animals?” describes TCWR Animal Curator Emily McCormack, highlighting what happened during this rescue.
When Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge became aware of the four big cats and their situation, we were able to team up with the AZA-accredited Oakland Zoo located in Oakland, CA as well as Lions Tigers & Bears located in Alpine, CA to give these neglected big cats proper care and a safe, forever home!
Initially, Lady was very hesitant. She wouldn’t leave the security her den, even keeping her back feet planted inside while she reached for the food we placed in front of its entrance. She had lived in isolation for over 8 years in a barn with a missing roof, located beside a loud road. So, her new calm and spacious habitat down at Rescue Ridge was something foreign to her. However, what could’ve taken months ended up being far less!
It was several days later when Lady showed positive signs of acclimation. She began to enjoy the peacefulness of Rescue Ridge, away from the rowdy road and cramped living space she once knew, and was observed exploring her habitat. Now she enjoys flirting and gesturing with Detroit (one of our long-time resident tigers) through the fence, as well as laying in the grass and even sunbathing. This is just the beginning of Lady’s new life here at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge! According to Emily, “When we first rescued Lady, you looked into her eyes and she seemed lost. Now, she seems found. Being at Rescue Ridge has really helped her have a new look at life.”
Lady shares an all too familiar story with so many other exotic animals. One way to eliminate these harrowing circumstances is to show support for The Big Cat and Public Safety Act (S.B. 1210) which just recently passed through Congress! This law will create strict limits on the private ownership of exotic big cats, end the cub petting industry, and allow sanctuaries to legally achieve our mission!