A childhood love for tigers led Emily McCormack ’99 to her
dream career: rescuing and taking care of exotic cats at the Turpentine Creek
Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Ark.
Turpentine Creek rescues tigers, lions, black bears, cougars and other
animals acquired from the exotic pet trade who have been neglected and
abused. The refuge gives these animals a place to live and invites the
public to learn about them.
Emily manages the interns at the refuge, sending out flyers twice a year to
advertise the program she once took part in. The interns she helps go on
to work at zoos across the country.
“That’s definitely been a fulfilling part of my job,” Emily said about
seeing her interns succeed.
As staff zoologist/volunteer coordinator, she also works closely with the
veterinarians and helps plan the construction of new “natural habitat”
enclosures for the animals. The refuge currently has 23 enclosures
occupied by 70 cats.
“What really keeps me at this facility is their mission and goals,” Emily
said. “Not only rescuing the cats, but constant construction of new
As a zoology major at Oswego State, Emily studied snow leopards with Dr.
Diane Chepko-Sade and gained first-hand experience with captive wild cats at
the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. A fellow student in her Zoo Seminar brought the
internship at Turpentine Creek to her attention. The fact that they had
over 100 cats, half of them tigers, really appealed to her.
“It was a dream come true when I got the call after my interview,” Emily
Emily’s goals aren’t just to help the tigers and other animals, but also to
change the laws regarding keeping exotic pets. She realizes it isn’t as
simple as outlawing them altogether.
“If they just made it illegal, there’d be nowhere for the animals to go,”
Emily credits Oswego State with preparing her and giving her the knowledge
needed to succeed, as well as giving her the opportunity to fulfill her dream
of helping to better the lives of animals.
—Jessica Skeldon ’09
Emily McCormack ’99 and Katie
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