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“Great Educational Opportunity”

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: "With over 130+ exotic cats and other wildlife on display, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in the United States. The non-profit USDA licensed refuge, founded in 1992, has grown to become one of the Top 10 attractions in Arkansas and the most popular in Eureka Springs. Lions, cougars, leopards, tigers, and bears are displayed in large natural habitats surrounding the main compound enclosures and gift shop. Each animal has its own story/history plaque for self-guided tours and over night accommodations are available via the Safari Lodge, RV park, and camping facilities. Guided tours available and popular daily feeding times are 4 p.m. (winter) to 5 p.m. (summer). The refuge is open year round (except Christmas Day) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.."
Goshen, Indiana
Level Contributor
92 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Great Educational Opportunity”
Reviewed March 10, 2013

Great place to visit. Friendly Staff. They work hard to give these cats (and others) a great place to live after being rescued from horrible conditions. This is not a zoo. This is a refuge. I recommend spending the night if you can get it booked in time!

Visited March 2013
1 Thank goinplaces44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,624 reviews from our community

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English first
Hollister, Missouri
Level Contributor
18 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Exotic Animals Need Special Care”
Reviewed March 10, 2013

Before I arrived here, I had a feeling for what I was going to see. Waling out into 'The Compound' as they called it, they had cats in small cages on all concrete. There were at least 15 tigers, a bear, and several mountain lions. These animals were completely on concrete and many of them had been declawed. They talk about how bad it is to declaw the animals and how hard it is for them to walk. Wouldn't having them on something softer be a little easier?

It is still chilly out here in Missouri, spring is just arriving. These cats had no bedding in their houses. They are forced to sleep on the cold concrete. In the hot summer, it's probably cooler, but for winter, it has to be frigid. They also can only use the bathroom on the concrete pad, so they end up walking in their feces and urine and have to tolerate a complete hose down on their cage when it gets clean.

When you get to the cats that are allowed to be on grass, they have a concrete lockout area. The intern that gave us the tour said they are only locked in for cleaning and bad weather. But when the cats along the tour path were being fed, I watched them lock them in off of the grass. And what else is sad, with the grass area, the cats have to share. They do not each get their own yard. They have to sit on concrete and wait for their day to go out and lay in the grass.

A lot of the cats were being kept with others, so more than one animal per lockout. I don't know how much you know, but a lot of these animals are solitary in the wild. They like to be by themselves. Yes they seem to be getting along, but that could just be because they are being forced to remain together.

One last thing was the feeding time. It was neat getting to hear the cats crunch down on their bones and see them eat. But it was pathetic how the handlers just threw the food at the cat. There was no talking to them or trying to make them feel more comfortable with the strange faces watching the cat eat. They just tossed the food through the hole in the fence and let it hit the cat in the side or over the head. The other thing is that the food was still frozen. It bounced when it it the concrete. I know for a fact that frozen or even just cold meat can make a cat very sick. It's unhealthy for them to digest it that cold. And each cat got the same amount of food, so there is no specializing their diets here. The larger cats should be eating more, not the same as a smaller cat. And the cats that share enclosures have to fight for their food, so no telling how much each cat is getting to eat.

So for someone that wants to see these animals and appreciate their beauty, this might be a good place to go if you enjoy seeing them pace in small cages on concrete. But I, as an animal lover who likes to see these magnificent creatures be treated well, this was not a good facility.

Visited March 2013
8 Thank Smurky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
scottesmith, Manager at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, responded to this review, March 12, 2013
One in 10,000 visitors will not like what they see at the refuge. I am glad they are there to give me the opportunity to educate the general public.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge does have an area we call the compound and there are some animals who do not enjoy the opportunity to run in the big habitats...yet. In 2002 we started building big 1/3 acre habitats and have not stopped. 100 of our big cats live in spacious enclosures, many of which are up to 20 times the square footage that Zoos in our country offer their animals. We will continue to build as fast as we humanly can. Nobody likes to see animals in small cages. That is why I rolled up my sleeves and got involved. I encourage and challenge you to visit and leave not wanting to help. If you love animals, you will want to help.

When you visit, take the time to see the progress we have made and leave a donation. If you can, volunteer. We need your physical help too.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City, Missouri
Level Contributor
58 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Energetic and informative staff”
Reviewed March 7, 2013

Couldn't have enjoyed this anymore. Even in winter, it was superb. Learing about the cats was a real treat.

Visited March 2013
Thank Kerry R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rogers, Arkansas
Level Contributor
70 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Awesome Place!!! A MUST see!”
Reviewed March 6, 2013

Lots of beautiful cats and bears! The staff are knowledgable and truly care about the welfare of the animals. It's a great place to take your family. Please make sure you give a donation and pick something up from the gift store. All proceeds go back into the care of the animals and expansion of the capabilities of the facility.

Make sure to also check out their lodging options and upcoming events. I can't wait for the kite festival at the end if March!!!

When you go, make sure you have a large photo card and extra batteries!!!!

Visited March 2013
Thank southernfoodiegirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1,360 reviews
676 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 501 helpful votes
“Unsung heroes rescuing exotic animals”
Reviewed March 3, 2013

You need to come here and support this excellent refuge.

You would not believe what some 'people' do to these lovely, wild creatures. It's heartbreaking.

These wonderful people have created a retirement home for all these poor, mistreated animals, to live out their lives in comfort and peace.

They deserve all the funding and attention that they can get in the hope that people will stop trafficking in, and keeping, exotic animals for pets.

Visited February 2013
Thank ThePackedBag
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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