Posted by: charityinfo | November 16, 2011

America’s Exotic Orphans

It might come as a surprise to learn that, every year, a large number of Americans purchase young exotic animals to keep as pets. Virtually all of these people do not follow up their initial impulse to own a cuddly lion cub or tiger cub with a logical scenario that takes into account that such animals will rapidly mature to an adult size, often larger than a human being. So where do those animals go when they outgrow their human foster parents?

Unfortunately, many overwhelmed exotic animal owners release their erstwhile pets into a nearby wild habitat that has no means of sustaining an ecologically alien creature such as a big cat. But there is a more humane destination for unwanted exotic felines.

Turpentine Creek is a big cat refuge located near Eureka Springs, in northern Arkansas. Founded in 1992, the refuge currently shelters and cares for over one hundred exotic animals — nearly all of which are felines. Although the refuge operates as a park and generates operating revenue from public visitors, Turpentine Creek is a not-for-profit organization, and its primary mission outside of caring for its furry guests is educating people about the folly and shame present in the private ownership of exotic animals.

Despite the significant size of the relatively remote operation, Turpentine Creek has survived over the years without receiving a dime in government funding. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages built into the refuge’s isolation is that the surrounding Ozark mountains are a frequently-visited tourist destination. The region’s pleasant and mildly rugged natural environs provide a comfortable setting for both visitors and big-cat occupants alike.

Turpentine Creek is a modern-day Isle of Misfit Kitties. Its existence has made a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of America’s exotic orphans.

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