Faces of Arkansas: The Face of Exotic Cats, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit rescue facility created to care for the neglected and abused victims of the exotic animal trade. Turpentine Creek is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating these exotic animals to full health. The refuge’s 459-acre ranch is situated amid the Ozark Mountains, 7 miles south of Eureka Springs.
Under the leadership of Tanya Smith, Turpentine Creek is one of the most extensive facilities of its kind open to the public anywhere in the world. Exotic cats have been rescued from many states, including Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Kansas, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana and Tennessee. They are provided a home in a caring and nurturing environment.
Turpentine Creek operates on the funds accrued through admissions, lodging, retail, donations, fundraising and adoptions. As a nonprofit, the refuge receives no federal, state or city funding and and rarely receives financial reimbursement when an animal is rescued. Much of the meat and animal food products fed to the big cats at Turpentine Creek is donated by several major Arkansas corporations, such as Tyson Foods and Walmart. Typically, the refuge feeds between 800-1,200 pounds of raw meat per day to their rescued friends.
When asked about Turpentine Creek’s greatest achievement, Smith explains that, “Sharing TCWR’s mission is critical. We welcome school groups to the refuge and offer interactive tours for the students with our highly trained staff.”
In 1997, Turpentine Creek established an internship program for students desiring more experience in the care of exotic cats and animals. Intern applicants are college graduates with degrees in the fields of zoology, biology, animal psychology, veterinary sciences and other animal-related areas. More than 500 biologists and zoologists now employed at zoos, sanctuaries and veterinary clinics worldwide have graduated from its internship program.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge – 479-253-5841 – www.tcwr.org