If anyone remembers, I said I was going to visit this place at the beginning of the year. However, due to illness, I had to postpone my trip. Yesterday it was an unseasonably warm day for January (because Texas has refused to believe that we are still in winter…) so my husband and I were up for an adventure. We had been talking about Tiger Creek for a while and decided to head that way.
Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is located, technically, in Red Springs, TX about 4 miles outside of Tyler, TX on FM 14. It’s just past Tyler State Park (which I have never been to but would love to visit and do a write-up soon!) located on a sizable piece of land in our East Texas Piney Woods. It’s honestly not too hard to find and has a big sign on the road that you’re meant to turn down. Now, once you get there, the road is gravel so if you’re going on a wetter day, you may want to keep that in mind if you don’t have a car that sits higher off the ground. Once you arrive, you are directed by signs to park in a gravel area and once you’re ready, head into the visitor’s center to pay for your guided tour. They do offer some special tours during the week that give a little more information and closer looks at the cats (safely), but they are not given on weekends as to not overwhelm the cats. You can find out information for VIP tours, etc at their website, which I’ll include at the end of my review. So, we were given the general tour of the grounds and cats. Now, the price can seem a bit daunting at $20 per person, but you have to keep in mind that this place is a non-profit and is completely run off of donations. Our tour guide that afternoon was named Zack and he had been working at the facility for a few years and he certainly knew his stuff! He had a great knowledge of all 37 of the big cats at the sanctuary, including their weights, how much they ate and their own individual personalities. He was also quick to answer the guests’ questions and handled our youngest tourists (around 3 and 5 years old) like a boss. Very professional, very knowledgeable and patient with kids and less-informed guests. Overall, I feel like I did learn a lot about the different cats in the sanctuary and really enjoyed the experience. If you really enjoy the cats, you can also sponsor or adopt them, for a fee, and your name will be placed on their enclosure. I’m considering sponsoring one of the bobcats, myself, as they are the mascot for my alma mater. Again, this is information that you can find on their website and also if you go to visit them.
Some things to be aware of if you’re not exactly “outdoorsy” include no plumbed restrooms (porta-potties) and a strong kitty musk. They are working to build a larger and more accessible visitor center that will include indoor restrooms and an education center for Big Cat presentations when schools come to visit. Again, this is a donation based organization, so if you love this place like we did, there are ways to help them achieve their goals. The “kitty” musk is always going to be there, despite how clean the workers keep the enclosures, due to the spraying done by large male cats. So if you’re sensitive to smell, just keep that in mind. Other than that, you have a generally good view of the cats and good bit of exercise and, from our experience, and excellent tour guide with a wealth of information to get to know these endangered species. Zack did tell us that there are roughly 400 or so wild tigers left in the world and that their organization is a part of a big cat alliance to help save those species of cats. I highly recommend going if you have nothing to do on a beautiful day or planning a visit in general.
If you’d like some more information on these cats or times to visit this wonderful facility, check out their website at: http://www.tigercreek.org .
I have a couple of pictures from our visit below. Now, they do have a good protective barrier between visitors and the cats, so please excuse the chainlink fence in the pictures.