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Sipping for Sanctuary: Event funds Turpentine Creek's sanctuary for lions, tigers, bears and more

Group provides sanctuary for big cats, bears, other exotics September 1, 2019 at 1:00 a.m.
Miranda Smith, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Hospitality Coordinator

Tell us about your organization:

• Mission: To provide lifetime refuge for abused and neglected "big cats" with emphasis on tigers, lions, leopards and cougars.

Sipping for Sanctuary

Who: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

What: Craft beer, wine tasting, gourmet food, silent auction, live music

When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5

Where: The Apollo on Emma in Springdale

Tickets: $55 in advance or $65 at the door

Attire: Cocktail attire — animal-print patterns are encouraged

Information: (479) 253-5841 or

• Vision Statement: Through public education we work to end the exotic animal trade, making sanctuaries like Turpentine Creek no longer necessary; together, we can preserve and protect these magnificent predators in the wild for our children's future.

• Services provided: Education, preservation and compassion! We also provide lodging on the wild-side we call "Africa in the Ozarks" where you can listen to the caroling of lions throughout your stay.

• Service area: Arkansas and surrounding states. We have people from all over that know about us through our internship program. Around 600 college graduates have completed our internship and now work in zoos, veterinarian clinics and sanctuaries nationwide. In 2016, we spearheaded the biggest big cat rescue in U.S. history. We worked with Tigers in America to create the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, which is an alliance of 12 sanctuaries that are true sanctuaries.

• Average number of people served annually: Around 40,000 visitors per year.

How is your organization's mission unique? We rescue and provide apex predators with lifetime sanctuary when otherwise most would have been euthanized.

Why do you work for a nonprofit organization? Do you have a personal connection to the mission? If so, what is it? Helping animals was how I was raised! My grandparents Don and Hilda Jackson and my mother Tanya Smith, the president of TCWR, founded the refuge when I was less than a year old. In 1992, my grandpa Don received a call from a lady from Texas who had 42 big cats in three cattle trailers and said if he didn't come get them then they would die. We saw the deplorable conditions and brought them home, 7 miles south of Eureka Springs. We did not have much at this time, but my family made sure the animals got the veterinary care, food and sanctuary they needed. Now, 27 years later, we continue to rescue animals in need and be their voices when they have none.

What part of your job fills the most of your time?I promote TCWR's mission statement every day because this refuge is my sanctuary as well.

What have you learned on the job that you didn't expect? I've learned you never know what people or animals are going through in their lives, and if we can bring a little joy to a guest, team member or our animal residents, then that just might save their lives or change their life or perspective.

What challenges face your organization? Challenges we face are reaching out to more people and educating them about the Big Cat Public Safety Act H.R. 1380 which will stop private ownership of big cats as pets and will put an end to hands-on interaction with big cats -- which will put an end to pay-for-play schemes, cub photo opportunities and cub petting. Big cats are predators, not pets.

Are there volunteer opportunities in your organization? What are they?We have volunteer days, a docent program. Supporters send in cardboard tubes, pumpkins, real Christmas trees, cardboard boxes, perfumes, kitchen spices, etc. Interested in volunteering? Visit

What upcoming fundraisers and/or other events does your organization have planned? Our next event is Sipping for Sanctuary on Sept. 5 at the Apollo on Emma in Springdale. Our annual Howl-A-Ween Spooktacular event will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the sanctuary in Eureka Springs.

NAN Profiles on 09/01/2019

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