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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Turpentine Creek Foundation Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Wildlife Sanctuaries

Mission: To provide lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused, and neglectedBig Cats with emphasis on Tigers, Lions, Leopards, and Cougars.

Results: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has saved over 500 big cats and bears from the exotic pet trade over the last 27 years. Join our team today by going to www.tcwr.org. See you on the wild side in Eureka Springs, AR.

Target demographics: End the big cat and bear portion of the exotic pet trade.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 80 big cats and bear live a healthy, enriched life.

Geographic areas served: The United States

Programs: Care and maintenance of ill, abused, neglected and unwanted animals

care and maintenance of ill, abused, neglected and unwanted animals.

Community Stories

29 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am amazed by, and in love with, TCWR! The entire acreage is kept neat and yet looks like a jungle in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. This is because the Curators at TCWR have an understanding of making each one of their rescued species literally feel at home. They curate each large habitat to be a replica for each species. They also provide the love and care needed for each individual animal they rescue. They give medicine when needed. They provide pools, which are cleaned daily, and give “baths,” to provide relief from the AR summer. The night houses are cleaned daily; I have not seen a dirty night house, because they are kept pristine by the zoology interns. And the interns are very knowledgeable. It is clear that their work at TCWR, from every human involved, is their passion! And the animals actually do smile ! They are happy and healthy. They are well cared for, and stimulated, and it shows, just like it shows on our house pets. Not to forget the night accommodations. They are also kept pristine and updated. I almost felt like I was staying in a jungle themed bed and breakfast. TCWR is truly a REFUGE for these animals, the humans who care for them, and the humans like me whose hearts feel so connected to this wonderful place!

1 Cathy R.5

Donor

Rating: 5

I made my second visit to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in February 2020 and spent two nights in the Siberian Suite on their beautiful property. Everyone was friendly and informative. The animals in their care were well fed and cared for. The staff educated me on why sanctuaries like this must exist since we have no federal regulations about owning big cats as pets. These animals were rescued from many different places, most of which were abusive and exploitive situations. TCWR is a GFAS Accredited sanctuary, which holds them to very high standards. I recently signed up to be a monthly supporter.

Dee S.4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My family visits TCWR every summer and each time we go we are amazed at the improvements to the facility. It is evident that every dollar they receive from donations is spent on making the best habitats and providing the best care for the animals. These animals were all rescued from horrible situations and at TCWR they get to live the rest of their lives in comfort, with spacious enclosures, plenty of food, enrichment activities, and vet care. Just look at some of the before and after pictures and you can see what a difference TCWR is making! The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and will answer all questions. They offer several different types of tours and I think the education they provide about the cub petting business is invaluable. Another really fun thing is that they have lodging options! There is no other experience like listening to the lions caroling at night. I can not recommend TCWR enough. Everyone should make the trip at least once.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

We have come to love TCWR and their mission. We have observed the staff & interns caring for the animals and have seen how the animals react so positively to them & to the care they receive. Visiting Turpentine Creek gives you a whole new perspective on the need for a true wildlife refuge that provides for homes for animals in need!

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

We visit Turpentine Creek several times per year and walk away more amazed at the passionate care provided the animals at this sanctuary. It is so satisfying to watch the animals play and enjoy enrichments they are given. There is so much opportunity to learn about what goes into caring for each animal especially given some of their challenges. A terrific place to visit!
Bam bam is a hoot to watch!

Tracy G.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

A fantastic place to spend the day, the night and/or the weekend! Watching the animals enjoy their habitats and enrichment is awesome! We love watching BamBam the grizzly bear enjoy his pool and seeing all the tigers play with their boomer balls is so much fun. BUT my favorite thing is staying overnight and listening to the lions carol. This is truly an amazing place!

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

We love Turpentine Creek! The staff and interns are so passionate about their animal residents and they dedicate themselves to providing a wonderful forever home for each of their animals. Each visit offers new educational opportunities, whether it’s a guided tour or a habitat side chat, you learn about the animals and what can be done to help make a difference. And nothing can beat hearing the lions carol ‘chat’, especially when staying in the lodging available on sight. We will definitely visit again, and again, and again!!

Amanda D.5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My husband surprised me with a trip to Turpentine Creek for our anniversary last year. It was amazing! It was a fun and educational experience. All of the animals are rescues and all money from lodging, tours, gift shop, etc., goes toward caring for the animals. There are lions, tigers, a bear named Bam Bam, a thirty year old monkey who loves to watch tv shows in his own little building, and more. All of the animals get their own personalized habitat and get to be totally wild. This is basically Disneyland for animal lovers. We will definitely be going back!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

It is amazing to watch the animal rescues. So much planning, logistics and effort go into saving the big cats from their inadequate, sometimes abusive, situations. Watching them take their first steps into a large, new grassy home is somehow indescribable. There is just something about a big cat that draws you in. Thank you, Turpentine Creek, for sharing them with us. We see the hours and hours of work weeding, feeding, training and maintaining you all do. Your love for the animals in your care is so clearly evident. I was thoroughly impressed with the natural bear habitats. The bears can be bears and still be safe and looked after. They are not wild but as close as can be. We will be back to visit again. In the meantime, give all the critters our love.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I visit TCWR twice a year and stay onsite. The staff, interns and volunteers are always so nice and helpful, and you can tell that they love what they do and they care very much for each resident animal. I took a tour with the curator, Emily, that I enjoyed very much. She is very good with the animals and they will play with her (on opposite sides of the fence of course) and you can tell that they like and trust her (as much as a wild animal can). This is not like a zoo where the animals pace back and forth and are bored to death. The resident animals have the best food, healthcare, enrichment, and space to run, swim, and nap under a shade tree. Some of the bears even get to climb trees. I highly recommend TCWR to anyone seeking a fun, educational and ethical outing. I can't wait to go back in September.

Stacy R.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We have been visiting for 20+ years. So impressed with improvements and animal care over the years. Wonderful way to teach others about how bad large cat trade is and how we can all help. They are a wonderful sanctuary for those rescued beauties.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love Turpentine Creek. The animals are well cared for and it is a true sanctuary—this organization does not breed the animals and they educate the public on why owning exotic animals is not a good idea, and why declawing is harmful to both big cats and domestic cats. The animals have large, natural habitats. Visitors have the option of spending the night, and falling asleep listening to the lions caroling.

The only thing I find frustrating about the refuge is that some of the animals are living at a part of the facility known as Rescue Ridge. Rescue Ridge was originally built to rescue animals from another facility, but now houses animals who can no longer manage the Arkansas hills in the "regular" habitats, so they have been moved to the flatter surface of Rescue Ridge. That is great for the animals, but in order to see them visitors must pay an additional fee. I, myself, cannot afford it and I am sure there are others in my situation.

Denise Y.2

Donor

Rating: 5

After reading the other reviews I don't know what I can add. The animals cared for at TCWR are so fortunate to be here. The staff, interns, volunteers are dedicated to making sure they have a "forever" life here. It's so obvious to see the love that is felt for each animal. TCWR has grown over the years. We have visited the refuge since 2010. Not only has the individual habitat areas grown, but so has the effort to educate the public about the horrors of the big cat industry, not only in private ownership but also in unsanctioned "zoos". The stories of what most of these animals have been thru are heart wrenching. We brought our grandson's to their summer camp program last year and they loved the whole experience. We have stayed in the Siberian suite 3 times. It is located beside one of the tiger habitats. We all enjoy watching out the window or sitting on the porch and watching and listening to all the animals. I can't put into words what a unique experience this is.

Karen Dianne Zagar V.

Donor

Rating: 5

This is without a doubt the most wonderful organization. The care and love they have for the animals in their care is magnificent.

Tanya S.3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I Love Turpentine Creek Foundation, Inc and Wildlife Refuge. I have had the honor to lead this organization since 1992. Struggles have been too many to count but the love of our team to the mission to save unwanted, abused and abandoned Big Cats is amazing. The dedication that our team has to make a difference in this world for animals with no voice keeps me motivated to keep moving forward. Thank you to everyone that visits, educates, learns, advocates, volunteers, and all that share our message to move us forward.

Heather K.5

Donor

Rating: 5

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is dedicated to providing a safe and beautiful home to exotic cats and other animals in need of care. All animals in their care are given the best possible lives since they must remain in captivity (for many, the US is not their native land and most were captive bred). The animals have large enclosures with natural grasses, trees and flora in the rolling hills outside Eureka Springs. Added to this are benches, hammocks, toys made especially for large animals, other enrichment, great nutrition and 24/7 monitoring and care. There are veterinary facilities on site and even a "retirement section" for aging animals who find the hills a little more daunting due to normal joint aging. I visit regularly and every time, more improvements are being made which is a wonderful sign of continued growth and dedication to their mission. I encourage everyone to go and learn more about these animals and the exotic pet issues that exist today. My heart was stolen initially by a gorgeous tiger named Tigger 3. Many more have stolen my heart since. I hope you'll find a favorite, or a dozen favorites, during your visit.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This organization is amazing! TCWR is changing the lives of exotic animals in two ways.

First, they provide abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats and bears with a safe place to call their lifetime home. These animals will never be bought, sold, traded, or bred and can simply leave their lives in clean, roomy spaces with grass under their feet and food in their bellies. TCWR is an example of a true sanctuary, existing not for entertainment or profit, but because they have to- because these animals need a safe place to call home.

Second, they are working to end the Trade that many of their animal residents have been part of. They educate guests during tours and through outreach programs at community events, schools, and more, touching on subjects such as "ethical tourism" and the plights big cats face in captivity. Not only do they advocate for federal legislation to protect exotic animals, but through their educational programs, they are creating advocates across the U.S.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is comprised of the key players in the fight to end the Trade. They are doing the work all true sanctuaries should.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has completely changed my life, and also the lives of all the exotic animals they rescue from private owners, roadside zoos, and unregulated facilities that shut down. Their compassion, hard work, and dedication to rescue abused and neglected big cats and exotic animals is beyond expectations for a sanctuary. They go a step further to ensure that all animals are treated with respect, dignity, and are able to live a life of freedom.

TCWR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and accredited sanctuary by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. They are strictly no contact, and treat the animals as the wild predators they are. They also do not buy, sell, breed, or trade animals, and take full responsibility for all animals in their care. They provide exotic animals a second chance at life.

To see a big cat touch grass for the first time, that was once living in a dog crate do to lack of laws and regulations for exotic animal ownership, is an absolute honor. They have large grass habitats to run around and play with their enrichment toys. TCWR goes beyond rescuing these animals by using their stories to educate every guest on how they can help stop the exotic pet trade. Education and awareness is the key to ensure that these animals live the life they deserve, and I am honored to call TCWR my home and to be able to give these animals a voice.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful sanctuary that rescues abused, neglected and abandoned big cats and a variety of other animals! The staff at the refuge give all their animal residents the proper quality care they deserve with help from supporters. TCWR Lodging on the wild side is really like experiencing Africa in the Ozarks where you can listen to the lions caroling throughout the night!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Amazing facility! Great staff! Saves animals and changes lives.

Robin R.7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. We live in Nebraska and travel to Arkansas to stay there once a year. The stories of the animals they save will break your heart, but when you see how these animals are allowed to live out the rest of their lives, your hope will be restored. This is not a zoo or a breeding facility. There is no petting. There is a lot of education. There are a lot of well cared for animals in large grassy habitats acting like wild animals should behave. There is a state of the art vet hospital. And if you want to enjoy lions caroling all night, there are several options for staying over. A wonderful place doing great work for animals.

Comments ( 1 )

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Scott Smith 07/03/2019

Robin, We are very pleased you have developed such a strong relationship with our animals. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with the world.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of getting to know the family and people that have devoted their lives to Turpentine Creek. Never in my life have I witnessed such dedication and positivity from a group of people. They truly care about the animals they take in their care. The animals they have rescued have come from deplorable conditions and although it seems like the logical move to release them into the wild, it is actually impossible. Go and visit to find out why. Ask any and all questions to the staff members there, because they want to educate the public about these animals. As for the animals, you only have to look at them lounging or playing to know they are happy and comfortable.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Visited for the first time in May, and all I can say is 'wow'! Spent the night in a tent about 10 feet away from two tigers. Drifted off to sleep to the sound of lions singing to each other. Was very impressed that everyone we spoke to was very nice and informative, and their main concern was making sure the animals are as comfortable and as close to their natural habitat as they can possibly be. Since they have been rescued from situations that no wild animal should ever be forced into, the best they can hope for is to be somewhere where people make an attempt to create a space with the comfort and happiness of the animals is the only priority. Educating the public comes second. Cannot wait to bring my three year old niece to spend the night!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Stumbled upon this place during a visit to Eureka Springs many years ago. This place is a unique establishment for rescuing mainly (but not only) big cats from private citizens or animal organizations that cannot afford to support their animals any longer. I have followed the organization for years. Volunteers from all over the country work here at reduced salaries for the chance to participate in this unique endeavor. The organization has quite a large piece of property and has endeavored to create a wide open living space for their magnificent cats. Many of the animals are accepted with injuries or illnesses and are cared for by the staff. As time and money allows they build and open enriched living areas for as many of their charges as possible. This operation is clearly a work of love and it can be seen in the history of their animals. The site is open to the public and now includes a couple of hotel suites that permit you to stay in a suite that features a wild animal habitat just outside your window. I have always felt good about donating to an organization that does such good for these big animals.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

#MyGivingStory about Turpentine Creek Wildlife Reguge
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge located in Eureka Springs, AR. Turpentine Creek rescues Tigers, Lions, Cougars, Bobcats, Black Bears, a Grizzly and other assorted creatures that come from private homes and facilities that can no longer take care of these beautiful creatures.

My husband and I were struggling financially, my husband needed a second job. Scott Smith hired him to drive the tour trolley, he has many skills but was grateful to have this job. This blessing of a job helped us make ends that were far from being met, to being met. About 6 months after my husband started working at TCWR they got a call that turned out to be their biggest rescue ever. A woman in Mountainburg, AR had a very large collection of Tigers in very poor conditions and, as we found out later, very poor health. My husband and I went from being grateful for this income, to having hearts sold out to helping these magnificent creatures. In order to rescue all 28 cats, that were eventually transported to TCWR, homes needed to be built for them. My husband took his vacation from his full time job and helped weld homes for them on Rescue Ridge, the new area for these new residents. We saw some very sick animals come to Turpentine Creek and we wished we could help financially but we were barely getting by. I volunteered time in the office while my husband worked but we wanted to do more. Specially for the ones needing extra healthcare.

Today, if one of the animals is sick and they can not be treated on site they need to be anesthsised, transported to the vet (about 40 miles away) kept under anesthsia while being treated and then while being transported back. A very serious situation for the animal, as well as staff. It's always been a dream at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge to build an onsite Vetinary Hospital. Something my husband and I wished we could make happen. Something that seemed totally out of reach but very necessary.

In April of 2014 my husband and I were blessed with a very big windfall and one of the first things we did was make a very large donation towards building the Vet Hospital at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. A campaign kicked off and all the money for the building has been raised but what good will the building be with no equipment? So now there is a big need-some $150,000 or so to equip the Vetinary Hospital-I believe about a third has been raised so far. It would be such a blessing to have this project completely funded. Building has begun on the Vetinary Hospital, we feel so blessed to have been able to help build the Hospital, won't you please help fully fund it? BamBam, the Grizzly, Duke, one of the Tigers, Elvis, one of the Bobcats, and all the other 100 or so residents of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge would be so grateful...we humans would be pretty thrilled too!

Comments ( 1 )

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Scott Smith 07/03/2019

Nancy, TCWR staff are proud to have both Bill and you as our friends and supporters. You are both awesome and exemplify what volunteer and staff members of a nonprofit should reach for. Thank you both for all your time and support.

Review from #MyGivingStory

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Small town. Small sanctuary. Staff and interns that are large in heart and effort to provide lifelong homes for those that have been victims of human ignorance. Animal habitats, diet, veterinary care, etc. are overseen by a fantastic group of interns and staff. These animals should not have been bred, BUT, they are now in caring hands for the rest of their lives. Please donate for their care.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Turpentine Creek rescued three tigers from our small rural community when their owner was no longer able to care for them. NO QUESTIONS ASKED! They took these tigers on without questioning their health or history. Immediately they provided surgery for one of the tigers who was suffering from complications from a bad declawing surgery that had become infected. They later found out that this tiger had testicular cancer. Unfortunately, he had to be euthanized. The other two tigers (three years later) are healthy and well cared for by the staff at TC. After reviewing their financial information, I am amazed at all the staff are able to provide for over 100 tigers, lions, and bears with very limited funding. TC can stretch a dollar farther than I thought possible. They do it by enlisting dedicated interns to help provide care and have negotiated in kind gifts to help provide food sources for the animals. In addition, they are currently raising money to provide on site veterinarian services to provide more vet care for the animals at a lower cost. They are affiliated with national groups that endorse their work and provide a high standard of oversight. TC is a five star organization doing a 10 star job! The staff are rock stars that deserve our support and recognition as they provide a much needed service for exotic animals that are victims of human neglect.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I first visited this sanctuary many years ago with a friend and began taking my elderly father there to see the big cats. He fell in love with them, especially Hercules for his feisty personality. He decided to donate money to build one of the safari lodges (guests can stay overnight and listen to the roar of the lions), and we made sure it was handicap accessible so that others in wheelchairs (like my father) could enjoy this awesome experience. We spent many a pleasant evening watching the sun set over the Ozarks while sipping a glass of wine on the porch and listening to the various animal calls throughout the park. Often deer would visit the meadow nearby, including an unusual white faced doe. We became annual supporters and have donated money to several of their special projects (Bam Bam's new cage, for example). I am also impressed with their internship program. Many graduates go on to serve as curators for zoos, work as vets, or in some cases, become permanent employees of the refuge. Everyone who works there (interns, employees, volunteers, owners, board members, etc.) cares passionately about the best care for these majestic animals. They are limited only by the financial resources they have to run this amazing facility.

1 Jeff25

Donor

Rating: 4

My spouse and I visited this rescue facility in Arkansas during summer of 2011. We actually spent parts of 2 consecutive days there since they have a small RV campground adjacent to their fenced area (which makes for a unique camping experience). It seemed to be well run, and the financials on file here indicate that salaries to the key people are quite low.

Review from Guidestar