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“Beautiful Refuge, Cheerful Staff, and Lots of Fun Facts!”

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: "With over 100 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 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 are available from 10am until 4pm (Summer) or 3pm (Winter). The refuge is open year round (except Christmas Day) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.."
Reviewed March 17, 2013

I've never been to an exotic animal refuge before but this place exceeded my expectations. It was so organized, clean, and full of information. My favorite part was how each animal had a plaque on there "habitat" or space that told their story of how they ended up there. I had no idea the vast amount of people who would actually be silly enough to house these powerful creatures as 'pets'. Also, this refuge even had RV and rooms available to stay over night. The gift shop was equip with reasonably priced items. It seems like they are using their money wisely. The $15 adult ticket was well worth it. We were even there for their daily feeding time which opened my eyes to the enormous strength of the big cats. I'm happy to know this place exists and will be donating funds yearly from now on.

2  Thank M G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,534 - 1,538 of 1,784 reviews

Reviewed March 15, 2013

From start to finish, this was a one of a kind experience. Everyone was very friendly & knowledgable. Watching the cats at feeding time is something I highly recommend. Staff seems extremely safety conscious & appeared to truly love the big whiskered faces. A must if you go to Eureka.

2  Thank Rita W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 12, 2013

This wildlife animal sanctuary is a wonderfully, awesome experience. This was my husband's first trip and he was in awe! My boys loved it too. We stayed around for feeding time, and it was so worth it. To be so close to the cats and hear them roar!!!! It is a little intimidating to say the least!

This refuge does wonderful things for animals who need it!

1  Thank Beth H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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!

1  Thank goinplaces44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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 reviewResponded 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.

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