Turpentine Creek in midst of enormous big-cat rescue effort
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is in the midst of undertaking the largest animal rescue effort in its 20-year history.
The USDA-licensed refuge, located 7 miles south of Eureka Springs, has been asked by the sheriff in Mountainburg to rescue 34 tigers, leopards, and cougars from a private facility in that county. The animals' current owner is in failing health, and the caging for the big cats has fallen into such disrepair over the past several years that officials say it's a miracle none of them have been roaming loose.
The first call from the sheriff to Turpentine Creek was on Monday, Oct. 29.
"(Our) visit on Nov. 1 was eye-opening and the depth and magnitude of the situation became very evident," Turpentine Creek said in an urgent-appeal-for-help newsletter to supporters a few days ago. "The problem had been compounded by canceled expectations of help from another facility. Dens were allowed to collapse without repair. Grounds maintenance and road upkeep had stopped some time ago and no truck/trailer can access the animals. ... There is no running water to the animals so it must be hauled up and down the mountain on horrible paths accessible by foot, four wheeler, and tractor only. ..."
Since that first visit, TCWR staff members have visited the property several times and, as of Friday, had relocated six tigers (one of which required urgent veterinary assistance) to their refuge near Eureka Springs.
The remaining 28 cats -- 24 tigers, two cougars and two leopards -- are all in good health but remain in need of immediate rescue due to the hazardous conditions of their current living quarters and the ill health of their present owner at Riverglen Tiger Sanctuary.
"Riverglen is located deep in the Boston Mountains, and the cats there do not get visitors nor do they experience much activity or stimulation," the TCWR newsletter said. "We have loaded the 'easy' tigers first. It will be hard or impossible to load the remaining cats without anesthetization being used as a tool for the animal's safety. Turpentine Creek can take two small cats, the leopards, before being full. What will happen to the rest of the animals?"
Turpentine Creek's plan is to raise the money to move as many of the cats as possible to TCWR as quickly as possible, while at the same time continuing to try to find homes for them at reputable facilities around the country. (So far, all the facilities contacted have said they are full.)
With over 100 big cats already living at TCWR, the need for additional housing/cages for the new rescues is now an emergency.
Turpentine Creek is asking for monetary donations and/or donations of appropriate caging materials to facilitate their efforts in this undertaking. TCWR needs to raise at least $200,000 for this effort, the newsletter said. Time is of the essence, it urged.
"Money is the only obstacle these cats need to overcome; they cannot raise the money themselves; they need us to do that for them to ensure they live out their lives with dignity and comfort. Please spread the word, you never know what can happen."