The Sounds of Africa… in Arkansas?

sounds of Africa

A Photo Essay by Sarah Hammons

It’s not normal to hear the sounds of Africa in Arkansas. You may know what a lion’s roar sounds like, but have you ever heard one “carol”? Lions make many more noises other than their traditional roar. A collection of vocalizations and noises that come from their diaphragms is called “caroling” and can often be heard for miles. In the wild, lions communicate with each other to mark their territory, or to alert each other of danger or food. It is their form of “talking” and they can often become very active at night. Each lion has their own specific sound and can be distinguished from each other. The tigers make a different sound – they rarely roar and more frequently make a noise called a “chuff.” You can practice by whispering and rolling your tongue to make a “brrrrr” sound. Try it now!
This is one of the most unique and exciting aspects of staying the night at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge outside of Eureka Springs. Not only can you stay in a tent or cabin adorned with all things “big cat,” you can also fall asleep with the windows open, listening to the sounds of the lions caroling across the valley and waking up to the tigers chuffing as they start their day.
Slade, 9, and brother Mason Bellew, 7, of Little Rock, Ark. recently stayed at The Treehouse at Turpentine Creek with their mom. They told me all about their experience.

Slade said the coolest thing about staying the night was listening to the lions all night. “It sounded like roars, but scratchy at the end,” Slade said. “Sometimes they do it loud and sometimes soft. Sometimes they do it alone and sometimes they do it all together.”
They insisted they never were scared.
They also met two massive Bengal tigers – Montana and Poncho – who share an enclosure right outside of their cabin. Another friend, and Slade’s favorite animal at Turpentine Creek, was Bam Bam the Grizzly Bear. He’s often found posing for pictures, such as the one featured, and playing hide and seek with visitors. You can even stay in Bam Bam’s Bungalow, a “glamping” (short for glamorous camping) style tent named after him.


Meet: Anne Heck
Intern, February — July, 2017
Graduate of the University of Kentucky
• Will start veterinary school at Auburn University this year.
• Always knew she wanted to be a vet!
• Anne guided my tour to nearly 100 people and really showed her passion. She knew each animal on the tour by name, how they came to TCWR, special personality quirks and their health requirements. That’s no easy feat with more than 100 animals.
OKM: What is the best part of your job at Turpentine Creek?
Anne: Knowing the stories of the animals makes it worth all the hard work – they’ve all had pretty hard lives before here. We get to make it better!
OKM: What makes Turpentine Creek so great?
Anne: Most animals get a quarter to a half acre of grass under their feet – which (especially small) zoos can’t boast. That sets Turpentine Creek apart. With us being a non-profit and having so many great donors, we are able to provide more for our animals here.