Turpentine Creek updates public on Oklahoma tiger rescue

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Five tigers rescued from a closing Oklahoma facility in late January continue with health intervention but are doing well overall, according to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR).

Tommy, Frankie, Robbie, Tigger and Floyd were obese and diagnosed with genetic health issues at the time of their rescue. Another tiger, Diesel, was suffering from feline infectious anemia and could not be saved despite TCWR's best efforts.

All of the remaining tigers except Floyd quickly found comfort in their new environment. Floyd was previously diagnosed with metabolic bone disease and physical deformities in his limbs. After seeking solace inside his den for several weeks, he has now become trusting and confident. He has been spotted following team members along the fence line and even dishing out friendly "chuffs" to others.

"Every animal adapts at their own pace. Even improved situations can be overwhelming to them," said animal curator Emily McCormack. "Floyd needed a little more time to adjust than the others, and we made sure not to push him. Here, there are no expectations or things that we require of him. We just want to give him the opportunity to be a tiger."

All of the new rescues are on a special diet and exercise regiment and have already dropped a few pounds. They are also being given vitamins and supplements for chronic issues, and Floyd is on a pain management program.

TCWR revealed in a previous press release that the tigers were survivors of the cub petting industry. They were set to be destroyed by a different owner once they surpassed the legal age to be handled; the facility TCWR obtained them from took them in from that owner before that could happen. The director of the facility then contacted TCWR on Monday, Jan. 14, when he found out he was being evicted from the property.

According to TCWR, the cub petting industry is one of the many faces of the exotic pet trade, where wild animals are sold as pets and for entertainment. Most recently, a tiger was found in an abandoned Houston, Texas, home, residing in an insecure enclosure.

"These are the types of things that people sometimes have no idea even what's going on in their own backyard," McCormack said.

McCormack said there are possibly 10,000-20,000 big cats residing in the U.S., with only 6 percent residing in reputable zoos and sanctuaries.

"That leaves a huge number of animals out there that need to be rescued, and that's why sanctuaries are here," she said.

Tyson, the tiger found in the Houston home, was transported to fellow Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries accredited Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is also a member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, which was formed following TCWR's 2016 Colorado project that re-homed 115 survivors of the exotic pet trade to reputable sanctuaries throughout the country.

"You never know when a tiger, a lion, a cougar, a leopard, a bobcat or a serval are going to be homeless," McCormack said. "People get these animals when they're young as cubs and then basically don't know what to do with them."

TCWR encourages the public to familiarize themselves with the Big Cat Public Safety Act, a bill that, if passed, would regulate privatized ownership of exotic felines and protect them from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Though the act has yet to be reintroduced to Congress for the 2019 session, action can be taken by sending an email to representatives asking them to co-sponsor the legislation. A pre-written email can easily be sent from TCWR's website at https://www.turpentinecreek.org/bcpsa/action-bcpsa.

You can find updates on Tommy, Robbie, Frankie, Tigger and Floyd's progress on at https://www.facebook.com/TurpentineCreekWildlifeRefuge or http://bit.ly/TCWRYoutube. Those interested in supporting TCWR's newest residents can do so by donating online at https://www.turpentinecreek.org/support-us/donate or by calling 479-253-5841 or by mailing checks to 239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs, Ark 72632.

TCWR is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter; tours leave every hour on the hour starting at 10 a.m. with the final one departing at 3 p.m.

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