Temporary Closure

Protecting Our Animals And The Humans Who Care For Them

March 18, 2020

For the first time in 28 years, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has shut our doors to the public. We will temporarily be closed at least until April 1, where we will reevaluate the situation and make the call whether we will reopen or continue to stay closed for another period of time. This was a very difficult decision for the Refuge to make. We are just coming out of winter, a time where we have few visitors and funds begin to run low. Usually, Spring Break visitors boost our funds to help us make it to the summer, when we have the most business. Over half of our income during March and April comes in through admissions and lodging. To shut our doors risks financial hardship during this time, but a larger risk is allowing visitors to come from all around the country and/or world and potentially expose our team to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Our top priority is caring for the 89 animals that call the Refuge home. Above everything else, we are a big cat rescue, that is our number one priority and it has to take precedence over all other things. If one person at the Refuge were to get the virus, the animals’ care would suffer and the entire team would be quarantined since we all interact in close quarters on a daily basis. If everyone were to get sick, who would care for the animals? Much like healthcare workers, we would continue to care for the animals despite our own health issues.

UPDATE: A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19 and many of the other big cats, including tigers and lions, are showing symptoms as well. We have taken even more precautions to protect our animals and team members from COVID-19 in recent days.

While we are closed to the public, our social media team, education team, and animal care team have been coming together to find ways to make sure our supporters get their daily dose of Turpentine Creek. We want all of our supporters to know that despite not being open to the public we are here and actively working to not only care for the animals but help make people’s days a little better.

Although we cannot come into your homes and fill it with boxes, scents, and spices, we are going to be offering digital visual enrichment for all of you in the form of extra videos on our social media accounts. This visual ‘enrichment’ should help make your time in quarantine and social isolation a little more engaging and fun. Feel free to join us and enjoy this human enrichment made by our team of enrichment experts.

At this point, most of the staff remains working on-site, if the situation progresses further we will move to remote work for the non-essential staff. If team members do get sick with the Coronavirus we will quarantine them to reduce the risk of exposure to the remaining staff and progress to a more restrictive schedule. No matter what, the animals will always receive the care that they need. They will be fed and watered daily. We are lucky enough to have a 60-day supply of food for our animal residents on-site and a reserve of food in a local cold-storage facility.

Together we will weather this storm, and we are lucky enough to have an amazing group of supporters who rally behind us when needed. They have already begun to step up and we know they will continue to support us to the best of their abilities until it is safe to reopen our doors. Thank you for your support, we will be seeing you virtually in the upcoming days and in-person once all of this settles down.

Events, Lodging, and Ticket Information

All events have been canceled for the next 8 weeks, including Kite Festival and Cats at the Castle, both events will be rescheduled at a later date in the year. If you have lodging reservations with us please reach out to lodging at lodging@tcwr.org or 479-253-5841 ext 1 to reschedule your visit. If you purchased any time tickets they will be valid until your next visit. If you purchased Groupon tickets we will honor them after expiration. Thank you for being so understanding during this time.

Social Live Video Schedule

  • Monday – 9am Education Live, 12pm Live Behind the Scenes, 2pm Keeper Chat live, 3pm Live Premier Tour
  • Tuesday – 9am Curator Cat Chat Live, 12pm Live Behind the Scenes, 3pm Education Live
  • Wednesday – 9am Education Live, 12pm Live Behind the Scenes, 2pm Keeper Chat live, 3pm Live Premier Tour
  • Thursday – 9am Education Live, 12pm Live Behind the Scenes, 3pm Live Premier Tour
  • Friday – 9am Education Live, 12pm Live Behind the Scenes, 2pm Keeper Chat live, 3pm Live Premier Tour

Things you can do to support the Refuge from home:

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