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If you find yourself in the Ozarks, check out the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This refuge rescues big cats and other animals that often started out as someone’s pet or part of an animal attraction that was neglectful. When you visit Turpentine Creek, you are supporting the care and rescue of animals that may have no other option out there. Plus, you get to see the animals. It’s a win-win!
Arriving at Turpentine Creek
Normally we try to arrive at attractions at opening, but on this July day, we didn’t get to Eureka Springs until around noon. It had been raining all morning, so we thought perhaps the animals may be active, even though it was midday. We arrived in the early afternoon just as the rain stopped.
When we arrived, there were few cars in the lot due to the rain. We went into the visitor center to start our adventure. This building houses a gift shop, and it’s where you buy your tickets to visit the refuge. On an exciting note–Turpentine Creek is building a new Visitor Education Center that will open in the near future!
When we purchased our tickets, we learned that we could choose a tour of the refuge–by foot or by bus. We chose the bus, especially since we weren’t sure if the rain was finished. Our bus tour was about to start, so that’s where our adventure begins.
Riding the Bus at Turpentine Creek
As you approach the area where the bus tour begins, you’ll pass several animal exhibits along the way. These three tigers were in the largest enclosure.
The rain let up, and the tigers were grooming. We were lucky with the rain. Had it not been raining, the animals may not have been so active in the heat of the summer afternoon.
We also saw this tiger taking a stroll.
You may notice that the enclosures are secure. At Turpentine Creek, the employees take safety very seriously. Also, Turpentine Creek continues to add animal spaces so they can give the animals the best quality of life possible. At the moment, some cats must share some spaces, and some are on a rotation so that all of the cats get some time in the most spacious areas. Remember, these animals were rescued from the most terrible conditions. I applaud the efforts of Turpentine Creek as they work towards giving these beautiful animals a chance at a great life in the Ozarks.
When it was time for the bus tour, our guide met as at the gate. For this section of Turpentine Creek, you must accompany a guide either by bus or on a walking tour.
We boarded the bus, and we were off!
The tour is narrated by a knowledgeable staff member with a microphone.
From the bus tour, we were able to see the overnight lodging options. Did you know you could spend the night at Turpentine Creek? We could also see the veterinary clinic in the distance, and some of the animal enclosures are in that area. Those enclosures are for the animals that need space away from the public and each other to heal.
As the bus winds around the property, you’ll get to see the big cats and hear their stories. Some are heartbreaking, but I’m glad they are no longer in a place of abuse or neglect.
We were lucky to see this one playing.
Exploring Turpentine Creek
After the bus tour, we were free to explore the exhibits that are accessible by the pathways. We saw these tigers up close.
We also got to see this bear. He seemed pretty content to lay around in the sun.
I love that Turpentine Creek is devoted to educating the public about wildlife and what’s best for them.
The End of the Visit
As we made our way back to the visitor center and gift shop, I noticed that they did have a little snack stand.
We browsed the gift shop some more, and we picked out a magnet to commemorate our trip.
We loved our visit to Turpentine Creek to see the tigers and other animals! It’s so fun to see tigers in Arkansas, though it is sad that the animals are in need of a refuge instead of living in the wild. Thankfully, Turpentine Creek provides the chance for these animals, many of them kept as pets, to live a great life.
I’m also thankful for the chance to bring Kristin so that she can learn more about the animals while gaining a respect for what’s best for them. Children who learn about animals often become adults who love animals. If your family is planning a trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, be sure to put Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge on your list!
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