I always enjoyed viewing wild animals but loathed the way they are treated and some zoos and circuses — which is why I was so delighted to hear about Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.
Turpentine Creek is a nonprofit 500 acre wildlife refuge nestled in the Ozark Mountains of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Eureka Springs is a unique town on its own, and certainly worth a visit, it was the wildlife refuge that was the purpose of my visit — and it certainly did not disappoint!
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge has been around since 1982 and has been saving these animals since then! TCWR specializes in big cats, such as lions and tigers but houses a monkey, bears and other animals. The refuge is USDA certified. TCWR houses over 100 animals! TCWR rescues animals and does NOT breed. You aren’t allowed to touch the animals here, at true wildlife sanctuaries you aren’t allowed to touch them ( later we will go over a checklist that shows what true sanctuaries are vs what they aren’t!)
We arrive to Turpentine Creek not knowing what to expect. We enter the gift shop/ reception that looks similar to a barn. The man at check in, was nice and professional. We check in to our lodge which is the Serengeti. Serengeti is one of the adults only lodges. Turpentine offers several different lodging options. The adults only Zulu Safari Loding, Safari Tents, a treehouse, and of course a place for you to park your own RV! Click here to check out all of the lodging options with pricing and availability!
There are five adults only lodges. Serengeti, Congo, Kilimanjaro, Okavango, and Kalahari. They are all beautiful. All of the lodges have unique views of their own. At our lodge the back porch has a gorgeous view of the Ozarks. Each lodge has unique decor. The lodge is extremely affordable and starts at $175 per night with a minimum of two night stay. Importantly, ALL of the proceeds from the lodge or from the gift shop goes toward taking care of these animals. Staying at the lodge includes so many things such as : entry to the refuge, 2 trolley tickets, complimentary bottled water, juices, muffins, and many more! The lodges are set up on a deck with a gas fire pit in the middle and a hot tub! This makes for a very romantic setting. The bed was comfortable and the in room gas heater made the room the perfect temperature! The room also included some gorgeous artwork of animals, and some other really neat touches. Around 7pm we could hear the lions roar which was so neat! There is also a ton of add-ons that you can enjoy in your room for an additional fee.
It’s worth noting too that while the lodges and treehouse are awesome, that you don’t have to stay on site to visit the animals! You can visit for the day as well, but I recommend immersing yourself and getting the total experience!
After some delicious food in the Victorian town of Eureka Springs and a wonderful nights sleep in the lodge, we woke up the next morning to begin our walking tour. The walking tour has so many animals to discover.The walking tour we went on consisted of about 20 people, so it was very close knit. It was around 65°F, it was chilly in the morning but once we got to walking around it was great! Fall is a perfect time to visit! The animals seemed to love the temperature. They were all very active and about.
After the walking tour, I wanted to see more of the animals so we checked out the discovery area. This is where I went on a self guided tour. After some lunch in Eureka Springs I returned for the trolley tour. I personally would recommend doing both the trolley and the walking tour. The trolley tour is only $5.00 more if you aren’t staying in the lodge. We had a different tour guide for each tour and both of them added a little something different in! The trolley tour is also good for people who can not walk uphill/ down hill or long distances, too!
One thing we saw from afar on the tour was “Rescue Ridge”. This is where all the surgeries, and vet procedures are carried out. Animals that can not live well with others and older animals that need special care are placed here to reduce stress on these animals. There is an additional private tour of this area for a fee — so as to keep the number of visitors at a manageable level for the animals. We didn’t have time to attend this time, but hope to next time we visit!
A great thing about the refuge is that it’s open most days out of the year, with only a select few days that they close early or are closed. The experience is very educational. TCWR is a true animal sanctuary, so keep these few things in mind next time you think you’re visiting one :
- They are a nonprofit organization.
- They don’t breed.
- They don’t touch the animals, or allow you too!
- They don’t buy and sell animals.
True sanctuaries never allow cub petting or photos to be taken with the cubs. The cubs must be between 8-12 weeks old and the animals are likely being starved. The cubs are being taken away from their mamas and are euthanized. Only a few animals are lucky enough to end up in true sanctuaries like TCWR! There are so many other things being done to our wildlife that you can help prevent! Check it out here!
Another thing about this refuge that makes it so unique is that they have so many opportunities to learn about the animals and to see them up close and personal! Almost everyday they offer a behavioral management experience. We were lucky to see one! They feed the animals chicken. Behavior management allows the staff to check the animals and to offer them enrichment. The great thing about TCWR is that they do not force the animals to participate. Should the animal not want to, he/she doesn’t get rewarded. They are never punished for not wanting to!
The refuge has so many events, so check out their calendar to see the most recent and up to date! Even if you can’t make it over to the refuge, please donate! It’s for an amazing cause and they have different levels of donation. There are many things you can do to help these predators NOT pets! Donate perfumes, pumpkins, old Christmas trees! Every donation help big or small! Heres a list of what else you can do to help them! If you have a degree in zoology, or etc. Why not be an intern here? Anyone can do their part to help these animals!
Overall this was an amazing, unique, experience! If you are given the opportunity to visit, check it out! It is so nice to see the staff genuinely love what they do and to care for these animals! You can tell the animals are happy here and the staff as well!
How do you help save the wildlife? Let us know!
A special thanks to Turpentine Creek!
Overall Nena’s Rating: 5/5
*All opinons are my own*
*This post is NOT sponsored*
*Disclosure: Some of these links may be affiliate links, at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission*