Grad to Work with Big Cats

Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my—Felicia Lobb certainly won’t be working with your typical kitty cat.


Lobb, a William Woods University graduate from Madison, Ind., has plans to work with exotic animals, including more than 100 large cats, during a seven-month internship at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.


Turpentine Creek provides lifetime refuge to unwanted, abused or neglected animals, particularly tigers, lions, leopards and cougars. It is one of the few U.S.D.A. licensed shelters for large carnivores in the United States.


Located on 450 acres in the Ozark Mountains, Turpentine Creek is about seven miles south of Eureka Springs, Ark. The refuge accepts all types of animals and currently provides homes for bears, monkeys, deer and birds, in addition to the large cats.


Lobb, who graduated from William Woods in December with a B.A. in biology, was one of eight recent graduates selected for the internships. Others are from Colorado State University, Muskinghum College, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, University of Delaware and Emory and Henry College.


Mary Spratt, professor of biology at WWU, said, “I am very pleased that Felicia was chosen for this unique internship. Many interns are later hired at major zoos after this training. It will give her experience she would not be able to achieve any other way, and will position her well for future opportunities.”


A biology major with an equestrian science minor, Lobb said she thought her hands-on experience with the horses at William Woods helped her get the internship. She also did dog training while living in Fulton.

“They asked about my classes and my experience,” she said. “I think the combination of my science classes and my work with the horses really helped.”


Lobb, an accomplished saddle seat rider, said she had gone to William Woods, an independent, professions-oriented liberal arts university in Fulton, Mo., because of the horses and its world-renowned equestrian program.


“I’d heard about William Woods ever since I was little on the horse circuit,” she said.


Lobb said she has always been interested in working with animals and wants to explore working with various types. This internship will allow her to do that while she tries to determine her future.


“I’ve been thinking about pre-vet or maybe getting a master’s in zoology and becoming a zookeeper so I could work with a wide range of animals,” she said.


At the completion of her internship, Lobb plans to return to her hometown, which is across the border from Louisville, Ky. There she wants to continue working with horses and riding, and possibly seek employment at the zoo before pursing graduate studies.


Lobb is the daughter of Barbara Bircher and Phillip and Angela Lobb, all of Madison.