Located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge aims to provide refuge for all abandoned, neglected, and abused big cats. Visitors can see a large variety of large cats who have been rescued and now call the wildlife refuge a home, specifically tigers, leopards, lions, and cougars. These majestic creatures are sure to delight visitors of all ages as they learn about their habits, personalities, and heart-breaking yet uplifting stories.


The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was recognized by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries in 2015 but it took years of tireless work to get there. It all started back in 1978 when the Jackson family rescued their first large cat – an 8-month-old lion named Bum.

The lion cub was abandoned in a hotel parking lot in Little Rock, Arkansas and the Jackson family intervened to help care for the cub. At this time, the founder of the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Tayna Jackson, was merely 11 years old and she remembers the event as one of the most exciting of her life.

In the early 1980’s, the Jackson family recued a second lion. This was maintainable for the time being, however, they reached a turning point in 1991 when a notorious black-market dealer was caught and law enforcement removed 42 big cats from her possession.

Suddenly, the Jackson family was responsible for 44 big cats and their backyard was not going to accommodate such a large number of cats. The Jackson family decided it was time to move the 44 big cats, the 70 small cats and their 30 horses to a 460-acre ranch in Eureka Springs.

Tayna and her family spent countless hours moving these animals, building their enclosures, tending to their health issues, and finding enough food to feed more than 100 wild animals. Finally, in 2015, the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge was nationally recognized and began to receive unbelievable support and funding from the community.

Currently, Turpentine Creek is one of the top animal sanctuaries in the United States. There are a large variety of cats who reside at the refuge and all kinds of tours and programs to entertain and educate visitors. Everything from lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, and bobcats call the TCWR home and love to interact with visitors.


There are even accommodations on site to ensure that visitors get the most out of their visit to the TCWR. There are safari themed lodges, luxury suites, RV and tent spaces and the tree house bungalow. Guests are sure to find a cozy place to stay and prolong their entertainment.

Programs and Education:

There are variety of educational programs and specialized tours at the Turpentine Wildlife Refuge. The owners believe that this is one of the most important things they can provide to visitors of all ages. Spreading awareness about the dangers of the exotic pet trade and telling the stories of these poor animals is invaluable to the preservation of wildlife.

The refuge is open year-round and offers zoo keeper talks and special group tours as well. Visitors can watch and interact with a variety of big cats while learning about their rescue stories, habits, and natural habitats. There are tons of fun animal facts to learn for visitors of all ages!

Upcoming Events:

There are all kinds of family-friendly events hosted year-round at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, some highlights include the following:

Howl-O-Ween Spooktacular: This annual Halloween-themed fundraising event allows visitors to witness the big cats after dark! Guests will enjoy a variety of activities and special spooky themed tours while the refuge raises money for their programs.

Bam Bam Day: This annual event is fun for the entire family and invites visitors to celebrate Bam Bam and the TCWR. Guests can show their support and help the festivities kick off!

#GivingTuesday: This event is hosted online and asks for donations from giving members of the community to help fund the TCWR as a non-profit. The whole day will be filled with interactive and fun online-based events to make the giving more exciting.

For more information about upcoming events, visit the calendar of events on the wildlife refuge’s website.

Additional Information:

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, 239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs, AR 72632, website, Phone: 479-253-5841

Back to: Eureka Springs, Arkansas

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