Rescuing Exotic Cats Nationwide

aka Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge   |   Eureka Springs, AR   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 71-0721742


To provide lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused, and neglected “Big Cats" with emphasis on Tigers, Lions, Leopards, and Cougars.

Ruling year info



Mrs. Tanya Jackson Smith

Main address

239 Turpentine Creek Ln

Eureka Springs, AR 72632 USA

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Subject area info


Wildlife sanctuaries

Population served info


Victims of crime and abuse

NTEE code info

Wildlife Sanctuary/Refuge (D34)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Across the U.S. thousands of big cats live in inadequate facilities or are privately owned. When facilities are closed, laws change, legal action is taken, or private owners realize that owning a wild animal is too much for them to handle sanctuaries are called to intercede and provide a forever home for those animals. The illegal wildlife trade is the 4th largest global black market. These animals can be found in shoddy zoos, circuses, pay-to-play attractions and even backyards. Cub-petting is a major money-making offshoot of the Exotic Pet Trade. The USDA allows handling of cubs between 4-12 weeks of age which encourages breeders to churn out hundreds of cubs yearly to supply their demand. It is unknown what happens to those cubs after 12-weeks. There are over 7,000 tigers in America today. As of 2014, there were over 700 reported incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990. Incidents are not always reported because of the legal consequences the owner could face.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Animal Care

Turpentine Creek Foundation, Inc. rescues big cats and bears throughout the United States and gives them a lifetime home. Since Turpentine Creek has begun, we have been developing our animal care program. Turpentine Creek Foundation, Incorporation's animal care has developed to be the best in our industry. Our animals are cared for at the highest level and interns are trained correctly to pursue careers in the animal care industry.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Even though Turpentine Creek has always offered public education, in January of 2018 we established our formal outreach program. Staffed by certified wildlife interpreters with degrees in wildlife conservation and wildlife biology, our team hosts groups and visits classrooms K-college throughout NW Arkansas and the surrounding region. TCWR is evolving how we educate youth through Interpretive Learning to teach why sustainable behavior matters, how they can affect positive change through their everyday actions, and the devastation the Exotic Animal Trade inflicts on both captive and endangered wild species.

In 2021 our team taught 44,425 people of all ages onsite. Educational tours are offered seven days per week, with online reservations. We also reached close to 3,000 students in 10 different states and Canada through our virtual classes. Our goal is to create a New Generation of Wildlife Advocates.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

TCWR is working to create advocates who will lobby for the passing of national legislation to protect big cats by making cub petting illegal, and greatly restrict private ownership and breeding. The Big Cat Public Safety Act for the 117th US Congress Session (2021-2023) has been reintroduced to the House of Representatives as H.R. 263 and has yet to be reintroduced to the Senate. It has been assigned to the Natural Resource Committee in the House.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


USDA License 1992

A.P.H.I.S a division of U.S.D.A and the Arkansas Game and Fish

Affiliations & memberships

Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance 2017

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of animals with freedom from hunger and thirst

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Animal Care

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

We have cared for an average of 95 animals for the past three years. Quality of life decisions in elderly animals can lower this number while new rescues throughout the year cause it to increase.

Number of animals with freedom from discomfort

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Animal Care

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of people educated about the faults of having big cats as pets

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This figure includes off-site classroom visits and booth presentations along with our weekly onsite education programs, guided tours, children’s day camps, workshops, and volunteer enrichment days.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

With passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act into law in December of 2022, our goals are two pronged.

First, we must educate the public so they can aid our USDA and Fish & Wildlife agencies in enforcing this new national legislation. We must also educate them on what species the new law does not protect, such as bears, small exotic cats like African Servals and caracals, and small native wildcats such as bobcats. These animals will need people to advocate for them.

Second, we must be ready when the calls for rescue come over the next three years. This means expanding our habitat space. In another two to three decades there will be no more lions, tigers, leopards or hybrids suffering in roadside zoos or cramped private cages, but these other species will still require sanctuary.

We will continue our mission, adapting as needed, to protect animals in captivity that are survivors of the Exotic Animal Trade.

Ending the Big Cat Trade is achievable in our lifetime if we can continue to expand our public educational outreach to aid law enforcement and turn in big cat exploiters.

TCWR will continue to use its 30-plus years experience of rescuing big cats and bears nationwide. After rescue we provide a lifetime home with the best care in the world. This provides homes to the needy while we work to stop the trade.

By having a dedicated education department, we are able to offer off-site and onsite educational sessions for all ages to raise awareness of the captive wildlife trade and build a community of environmentalists and advocates that can work together for the passing of national legislation to end the Trade and create a more sustainable society.

In 2022 our presentations reached over 40,000 individuals through in person and virtual classes and educational tours.

TCWR has 30 plus years of big cat and bear rescue, providing the animals we rescue the best quality of life possible in captivity for the rest of their lives. We will continue to improve both the care we provide and our educational facilities.

Currently we are conducting a capital campaign to construct the Big Cat Education Center & Museum. This 7,880 sq. ft. building will house divisible classroom space, a broadcast studio for our virtual classes, permanent and changing museum-quality exhibits, a cafe and educational gift shop. The new education center will triple our educational outreach, as well as our visitor rate, thus making our organization sustainable for the coming decades.

•1991: Notorious breeder/black market dealer abandons 42 big cats on the Jackson family’s property. They offer help.
•1992: TCWR becomes a 501 c (3) nonprofit organization
•1996: TCWR establishes a competitive intern program and goes on to train world-class animal care experts over the coming decades.
•2002: TCWR helps to put an end to a breeding operation taking in a total of 28 animals from the facility.
•2005: TCWR provides information for a former intern to write House Bill 2681 and creates a community of advocates to get the bill passed. This law heavily restricted private ownership of dangerous exotic and native animals in Arkansas.
•2009: TCWR rescues multiple animals from the Branson Interactive Zoo and Aquarium after regulations change.
•2012: TCWR leads the rescue of 34 big cats (taking in 28 animals) from a breeder when their owner is too ill to continue caring for the animals. In 128 days TCWR built 20 new habitats to accommodate the new animal residents.
•2015: All habitats at the Refuge are converted into natural enclosures.
•2015: TCWR is verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)
•2016: The construction of the on-site, state-of-the-art Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital is complete.
•2017: The final animals from the largest big cat and bear rescue in U.S. History, (The Colorado Project facilitated by TCWR) are removed from a Colorado breeding/cub-petting scheme.
•2017: Through the Colorado Project, the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance is established.
•2017: TCWR is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, meaning it upholds the highest standards of animal care and safety.
•2018: The Refuge launches their Education Department to spread education and advocacy.
•2018: The Refuge advocates for the Big Cat Public Safety Act, over 3,500 emails sent to government officials to date.
•2019: TCWR rescues 6 big cats from a facility in Oklahoma when the owner was kicked off his property. The 6 cubs had initially been rescued from a notorious facility in Oklahoma after they ‘aged out’ of the “cub petting” scheme. One passed away from a tick born disease he was suffering from during the rescue.
•2019: TCWR performs an emergency rescue when flooding of the Arkansas river displaced two pet bobcats. The bobcats were rescued in an abandoned house with water up to their bellies, which was still rising.
*2020: TCWR transformed the lives of 12 big cats in 3 successful rescues.
*2021: TCWR transformed the lives of 18 animals in 5 successful rescues including 10 big cats seized by the Federal Government from the Tiger King Park in Oklahoma and 3 cubs born to one of the female tigers from that rescue.
*2022; TCWR rescued 3 animals and received unprecedented national exposure. We were featured on This is Life with Lisa Ling: Tiger Queens; our President Tanya Smith was Chair of the Rescue Committee for the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA) and our Animal Curator Emily McCormack was Vice Chair of the entire BCSA.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.47 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 4.9 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 8% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of TURPENTINE CREEK FOUNDATION INC’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $170,408 $706,665 $586,381 $1,509,033 $421,561
As % of expenses 7.4% 31.0% 28.5% 54.4% 12.4%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $23,204 $518,089 $370,668 $1,289,813 $124,374
As % of expenses 0.9% 21.0% 16.3% 43.1% 3.4%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $2,470,454 $2,988,061 $2,643,985 $3,809,928 $4,123,873
Total revenue, % change over prior year -3.0% 21.0% -11.5% 44.1% 8.2%
Program services revenue 42.4% 33.6% 22.9% 30.0% 27.9%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.9%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 8.3% 11.1% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 45.9% 50.8% 64.5% 53.0% 66.1%
Other revenue 11.7% 15.6% 4.2% 5.9% 5.1%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $2,300,046 $2,281,396 $2,057,604 $2,773,932 $3,401,818
Total expenses, % change over prior year 7.5% -0.8% -9.8% 34.8% 22.6%
Personnel 39.2% 41.6% 49.8% 41.8% 37.2%
Professional fees 0.5% 0.7% 0.5% 2.2% 2.2%
Occupancy 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 13.6% 13.3%
Interest 0.6% 0.7% 0.5% 0.3% 0.2%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 59.6% 57.1% 49.2% 42.0% 47.1%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $2,447,250 $2,469,972 $2,273,317 $2,993,152 $3,699,005
One month of savings $191,671 $190,116 $171,467 $231,161 $283,485
Debt principal payment $16,620 $57,662 $0 $0 $24,343
Fixed asset additions $221,655 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $2,877,196 $2,717,750 $2,444,784 $3,224,313 $4,006,833

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 2.0 4.9 7.9 9.1 9.4
Months of cash and investments 2.0 4.9 7.9 9.4 9.4
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 0.6 3.7 6.5 10.7 9.5
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $375,735 $933,849 $1,353,308 $2,109,036 $2,662,635
Investments $0 $0 $0 $58,928 $7,546
Receivables $0 $0 $10,000 $84,500 $24,653
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $3,727,222 $3,746,858 $3,935,502 $4,112,630 $3,635,861
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 43.2% 47.0% 50.3% 52.5% 49.6%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 15.6% 10.9% 9.9% 6.8% 8.8%
Unrestricted net assets $2,174,377 $2,692,466 $3,063,134 $4,352,947 $4,477,321
Temporarily restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $0 $0 $0 $98,534 $399,028
Total net assets $2,174,377 $2,692,466 $3,063,134 $0 $4,876,349

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No Yes No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization


Mrs. Tanya Jackson Smith

Tanya grew up helping her parents manage the family-based operation begun in 1978, which grew into Turpentine Creek Foundation, Inc. DBA Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Her passion for and intimate experience with the animals combined with her hands-on management was the driving force behind TCWR becoming a professionally staffed 501 © 3 wildlife sanctuary. TCWR has been accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) as one of the leading big cat sanctuaries in the world that upholds their stringent standards of animal care, from rescue through the rest of the animals’ lives. Today Tanya serves on numerous boards: Turpentine Creek Foundation, Inc. (TCWR), Arvest Community Bank Board, Arkansas Hospitality Foundation Board (AHA), NW Arkansas Tourism Association (NATA), the Rogers/Lowell Chamber of Commerce and the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance (BCSA). She is also a member of the Corps du Cavaliers – the group behind the popular Mardi Gras event in Eureka Springs.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 01/26/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mrs. Tanya Smith

Turpentine Creek Foundation, Inc.

Term: 2019 -

Virginia Rankin

Tanya Smith

Amanda Rials

Tracy Garry

J.R. Shaw

James Jackson

Deneece Squires

Julie Howard

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/19/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/21/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.