Honing animal care skills at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

IFAW Wildlife Rescue Program Officer Meredith Whitney spent two weeks working at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a refuge for abandoned, neglected and abused big cats.PHOTO: ©Turpentine Creek Wildlife RefugeThe International Fund for Animal Welfare promotes sound protocols at wildlife sanctuaries in order to ensure human and animal safety as well as animal welfare.

I took the opportunity to work recently at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) in Arkansas for two weeks. Not only did I have the pleasure of collaborating with TCWR’s staff and interns to care for more than 100 rescued big cats and bears, I got to specifically practice the protocols we preach.

The protocols enforce a specific skill set and knowledge base of how to interact safely and humanely with captive wildlife.

IFAW and TCWR have worked together in the past, and I had the opportunity to visit with some of the animals we worked together to rescue, like Blackfire, Peyton and Rocklyn, each of whom I was overjoyed to see running and playing in their new, spacious habitat.

Each day, I started my work at 8 a.m. and finished at 6 in the evening, working in the scorching sun and in the pouring rain. My days were filled with feeding animals, cleaning habitats, preparing diets and providing enrichment. TCWR also arranged to have their veterinarian perform several necessary medical procedures during my time at the sanctuary.

I performed thousands of small tasks that animal care providers do daily to make life a little bit better for the majestic creatures who have been relegated to lives in captivity instead of in the wild where they belong. However, if these animals have to live captive lives, I’m glad they’re able to do it in places like Turpentine Creek . And having followed the many great protocols TCWR has instituted,  members of the Wildlife Rescue Program here at IFAW can be better prepared for our rescues and working with other sanctuaries.

 -MW 

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