Last weekend when friends and I attended the Ozark Writers’ Conference in Eureka Springs, we blew off the conference accomodations in favor of something more on the wild side.
We headed a few miles out of town for the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. It’s a big cat refuge where exotic animals that have been abused or have become too much for their owners to handle can live out the rest of their lives. These animals aren’t suited for return to the wild and most have some health issue that prevents them from going to zoos. The refuge strives to put every animal they acquire in its own habitat, but while animals heal or are awaiting the opening of a new habitat area, they are caged.
We toured the habitat area and watched the keepers feed the animals. We were impressed with their work, the facility and the need.
First, take a look at our digs. These cabins are made to look like tents set up for safari, but are much more comfortable. At night, we could hear the cats “singing” and snarling. Very cool!
This is the inside of the one I shared with Myla Jackson and Shayla Kersten. The cabins ringed a deck that had a firepit and a jacuzzi. Yeah, we were roughing it.
These are a few pics I took of the animals in the habitats. They looked comfie, healthy, and the fences were sturdy—thank God—because you don’t realize how big those creatures are until you stand near them!
These are a pair of siblings that share a habitat. They greated each other affectionately, then proceeded to snarl and swat each other with their big paws.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the tiger on the right is missing its hind leg.
These are pics of the animals living in the cages near the visitor center. They are either healing or awaiting a habitat. The refuge relies on donations. I think the stupid pet owners who raised them should have to pay “cat-imony” on a monthly basis.
Ever seen a Liger? Me neither. A cross between a tiger and a lion wouldn’t occur in nature, but again, stupid pet owners…
Feeding time was fun to watch. Wish they’d let idiots like me pay for the privelege to risk our arms throwing raw meat into the cage.
They had plaques up for deceased animals. I found one pretty kitty who had my name.