I’d like to thank Sue for inviting me to her blog. Today, I get to share an experience with you that changed the way I view wild animals. I’ve been a dog lover for many years, but I’ve never given much thought to wild animals in captivity–until this fall. I attended a writer’s retreat in October and had the privilege of staying two nights at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) in Arkansas.
This refuge is seven miles outside of Eureka Springs in the Ozark Mountains and is a licensed, non-profit refuge. They house lions, tigers, bears, cougars as well as some other animals. This facility also has an area of “safari lodging” where I was able to stay with some other ladies from my writers’ group. The cabins are located in a proximity close enough to hear the roars of the lions and tigers in the early morning hours.
We checked into our cabin in time to do a guided tour and witness feeding time. Let me preface with the comment that I’ve visited lots of zoos. I enjoy watching the animals and reading an impersonal card that tells me about the caged animal. Turpentine is by no means a zoo. There are some animals kept in cages due to lack of funds to expand at this time, but the goal of TCRW is to keep each animal in a habitat on their 459 acres. Over one-half of the animals reside in the habitat area.
TCWR is an animal rescue organization. Each animal has a story of how it was rescued from a situation and brought to live at TCWR. They’ve traveled to 17 states to rescue these animals from dire circumstances. Our tour guide gave us the rescue story behind several animals we visited from a safe distance. They have strict protocols for viewing and feeding. The staff is professional with interns and volunteers who hold degrees in zoology and biology.
I was amazed at the stories about people who think they’d like to keep a tiger as a pet. They bring home a baby tiger and it’s manageable enough. You can guess what happens next. The tiger grows and needs more space, food, medical attention, etc. Besides the fact that it’s a wild animal, it’s difficult to give a tiger the environment it needs. You don’t just throw it in the backyard. The worst scenario is when somebody gets hurt.
These animals were all breathtaking in their strength, agility, and beauty. I was in awe of them. I wasn’t the only one. The other writers staying with me felt the same way. We are planning an anthology of fiction to donate funds to TCWR’s cause. My stay with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge certainly changed the way I look at these beautiful creatures.
Currently working in higher education administration, she spends her days thinking of ways to improve education for college students. Brinda spends her nights devising exciting tales that involve teens who might be saving the world.