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The First In-Ground Pool is Complete

Tigers BB King & Mack Love Their New Permanent Pool

July 8, 2021

We’ve been working to put a real, in-ground pool in every habitat a water-loving creature may find themselves in at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Last weekend, we filled the first of many in the habitat currently occupied by tiger brothers BB King & Mack. We’re already working on constructing the second pool, and can’t wait to share the process with you! 

Our animal residents have, up to this point, been given stock tank pools each year. These “pools” are self-explanatory: large stock tanks often used by farmers to water cows and horses. Building our new pools costs $5,000 per structure, so for a while, the stock tanks have been a more affordable option as we worked to upgrade habitats in other ways. We now find ourselves at a point where replacing the stock tanks whenever a big cat finally damages it beyond repair is taking away from donations that could be used for other forms of enrichment and habitat up-keep. 

Permanent pools have been a goal for years. Just as “crashing the compound” to put every single animal in a big grass habitat and creating a veterinary hospital onsite was once nothing more than a crazy vision, our supporters are making this dream a reality. Our animal residents never asked to be in captivity and were forced there by someone else’s choices. We owe it to them to make choices that give them the best lives possible, and you are doing just that! 

The inaugural pool was placed in BB King & Mack’s habitat partly due to how long they’ve been with us, as well as BB King’s battle with cancer last year. After his long fight, he deserved a sweet enrichment surprise! This pair is laid back (okay, maybe “lazy” is a better word), so we partly expected the grand opening of their pool to be a bit lackluster on their end. However, both tigers excitedly darted towards their new water feature! Mack had to circle it a bit before dipping his toe in; in this video, you can see the light bulb going off in his head as he realizes what this gift means! 

The pool is big enough for both of them, but they haven’t realized it yet. If one of the brothers is soaking and the other approaches, the newcomer will be quickly shooed away by the current pool occupier. This is mostly okay since the boys seem to cope with disappointments by sleeping 36 hours a day. Imagine if nap-time and pool-time were the only things on your to-do list! 

Nine pools have been fully sponsored. If you would like to become a pool sponsor to make a tiger or bear’s dream come true, please email

If you’re unable to fully sponsor a pool, please consider making a donation to our pool fund. Please make sure to write the word “pool” in the notes option on the donation form so we know what you wish your contribution to be used for. No amount is “too small;” people generously giving what they can is why our animal residents have been allowed to thrive with us for almost 30 years. 


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