Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a USDA licensed and GFAS verified refuge for big cats and bears, is a short 7 miles from the historic tourist town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on Scenic Highway 23.
Turning into the main driveway, visitors are treated to the breathtaking view of the gorgeous Ozark Mountains on one side and a view of our beautiful event field on the other.
The drive itself feeds into our large parking area, from which visitors then enter our main Gift Shop and Reception area – a large converted barn.
Our staff checks visitors in, briefly explains our mission, and then directs guests to our Discovery Tour area where they can explore on their own, prior to joining the Guided Habitat Tour where they will see the remaining residents. The lions, tigers, cougars, bears, monkey, coati, ligers, ti-liger, and servals are located in natural habitats where visitors can view and learn more about these magnificent creatures, where they were rescued from, and what we do as a non-profit sanctuary.
Starting at 10 am each day, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge offers a guided tour of our natural habitats. The half-mile walking tour is guided by one of our biologist or zoologist interns. The intern explains the history of the Refuge, as well as further information about rescues, construction, and ways to help. This is a great opportunity to watch the big cats running, playing, and stalking just like they would in the wild. In the summer, walking guided tours begin at 10 am daily and end at 4 pm. winter tours begin at 10 am and conclude at 3 pm. The trolley guided tour (an additional $5.00 fee, unless where mobility is a concern) goes out in the summer daily from 10:30 am until 3:30 pm, and in winter (only weekends) from 10:30 am until 2:30 pm.
One of Turpentine Creek’s most important missions is education. The more informed the public is about big cats and the exotic pet trade, the more likely they are to understand the importance of the Refuge. Keeper Talks are designed to give the public an up close and personal look into the big cat world. The topics vary from specific information on our different species to general information on all big cats and the Refuge. Keeper Talks are 20-minute presentations conducted by our biologists and zoologists in our main compound. Personal interaction with our educated staff makes it easy for all your questions to be answered. The talks are only on the Summer weekends, Saturdays 10:40 am and 2:40 pm and Sundays 10:40 am.
Behavioral Management Program
In January of 2016, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge implemented a behavior management program used to both encourage animals to partake in stress-reducing enrichment activity and also, allowing for animal care staff to more efficiently examine potential health issues and perform routine medical check-ups.
TCWR uses a bridge and reward training method. The desired behavior is coupled with a reward (food) using a high-pitched whistle called a “bridge.” It is called a bridge because it connects the behavior with the treat, therefore when heard creates a sense of anticipation and reinforces the desired behavior.
The process has proved to have a positive effect on our animal residents and we highly encourage visitors and supporters to experience this educational opportunity. Training with participating animals can currently be seen every day after the 4:00 Guided Habitat Tour in the Discovery Tour section of the Refuge.