Big Cats and High Hopes

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is one of Eureka Springs’ signature attractions. More than 50,000 people visit each year to see lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), along with other animals rescued from neglect and maltreatment.

A founding member of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, Turpentine Creek is frequently called on for help or advice by government agencies, zoos, and others who face unusual problems with dangerous animals.

Recently, I interviewed Turpentine Creek’s president, Tanya Jackson Smith, for my upcoming book, “Welcome to Eureka Springs: The I-Sh*t-You-Not History of America’s Quirkiest Town.”

I wanted to talk with Tanya about her parents, Don and Hilda Jackson. The Jackson family founded the refuge in 1992, putting everything they had – financially, physically, and emotionally – into making it a place where abused and neglected animals could live the remainder of their lives in comfort and peace.

Currently, the refuge is planning a fundraising campaign to take their efforts to an even bigger level. With the recent passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, they expect an influx of animals from shady breeders who don’t meet new safety and welfare requirements.

Some of the Jacksons’ rescue stories are heartbreaking, some are inspiring, and some are amazing. I look forward to sharing them with you in my book!

For more information about Turpentine Creek, follow their Facebook page or visit their website.

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