Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary dedicated to rescuing exotic cats on a national level, is celebrating its 30 year anniversary on Sunday, May 1. The two-day celebration on April 29-30 will include vendors, magic, live music, food trucks, educational programs and more.
Butch Berry, the mayor of Eureka Springs, will give a special presentation on Saturday, April 30, at noon with several others to follow throughout the day. Tanya Smith, the president of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, with her husband, Scott, the vice president, will also be available for a meet and greet and to share the story of the refuge.
VIP tickets are $150 for adults and $50 for children 5 to 13, which includes happy hour tickets, entry for the celebration and a sit-down presentation and catered dinner. General tickets are $50 for adults and children 5 to 13, and include entry to the celebration on April 30. Children 4 and under are admitted free. Both VIP and general admission tickets can be purchased online.
Don and Hilda Jackson, along with their daughter Tanya, established the Turpentine Creek Foundation, Inc. in 1992 with a mission to provide refuge for abandoned, abused and neglected big cats with an emphasis on tigers, lions, leopards and cougars.
A decade prior to starting the foundation, Don and Hilda were given an 8-month-old lion in exchange for five motorcycles and a trailer. Bum, the young lion, showed signs of suffering from an inadequate diet, so the Jacksons began a lifetime task of rehabilitation and care. Not long after, in March 1982, they took on 5-month-old Sheila, a lion.
While discovering the reality of the plight of big cats and heartbreaking learning lessons, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge set out to fulfill the need for a sanctuary for failed pet situations.
“Things have changed, but then again, we still face the same challenges we did 30 years ago. We had hoped to see an end to big cat exploitation within our lifetime and we still believe that is possible,” Tanya says. “It’s just been amazing how big the need is. We had no idea when we started that there were so many animals out there in such extreme need. We started from humble beginnings and are grateful for the outpouring of support from our local community.”
In 30 years, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has provided sanctuary to more than 450 animals, with a little less than 100 animals currently housed on the 459-acre refuge. Turpentine Creek is a nonprofit relying on donations and recurring donors to feed animals, provide medical care and housing. Open to the public daily, guests can learn about individual animals, their stories and care. This refuge is also home to a prestigious post-undergraduate internship program that more than 400 students have graduated from.
For more information about the ticket options and details of the event, click here.
READ MORE: Rescued in Arkansas