As you, my dear readers, might know, I love animals. And in the realm of wild animals, I'm especially partial to wolves and big cats. For the longest time, I have wanted to visit a wolf preserve. My dream is to see the wolves in the wild at the Yellowstone National Park, but that will have to wait awhile. For now, I'm excited visiting the local wolf preserves in New York and New Jersey.
This past Friday, I finally got a chance to go to the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY with two of my dearest friends, Tina Moss (also knows as my super-amazing writing partner) and Melissa C.(also a fellow karate dojo practitioner). At the Center, we started out with a brief 15 minute introduction by one of the instructors/staff there. While I already knew a lot of wolf facts from my previous research, I still learned a number of facts.
One of the funniest facts we learned at the Center is that there's a book called Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, which I thought was adorable.
After the introduction, we came outside and our tour guide had us (along with 15 kids who were there) howl at the top of our lungs. Not 30 seconds later, we heard the wolves howl back, which was an unbelievable experience. The wolves howls always give me chills, and this time was no exception. It's interesting to note that not all wolves howl the same. In the Center, there are Gray Mexican wolves and Red wolves and their howl is completely different.
|Alawa as a pup (image credit: nyuwolf.org)|
|Alawa eating her birthday cake (last Friday)|
|Zephyr (image credit: nyuwolf.org)|
Once the wolves howled back at us and gave us the "go ahead" to come visit them :) we moved towards the enclosures. The first enclosure contained two wolves, a brother and sister team, Zephyr and Alawa, who had their first birthday that day. The staff of the Center baked them two peanut butter pies, which they demolished in a matter of minutes. There was also a big box of birthday goodies, which took them a little longer to figure out. But finally they had it open and had a blast with the goodies inside. These wolves were more socialized then others in the Center.
Next, we went to visit Atka, who is the star ambassador of the Center. Atka is the most socialized wolf there and gets to go on trips to schools, museums and other fun places. Atka is the star of the show and knows it - he's a diva. But who can blame him, just look at what a beauty he is!
|Atka, the Ambassador Wolf (image credit: nyuwolf.org)|
|Atka asking for food (last Friday)|
|Me with Atka...well sort of|
|Atka with Tina Moss|
After Atka, we proceeded to visit an enclosure where the Gray Mexican wolves live. These wolves are less socialized and are part of the program where their offspring will hopefully be released into the wild. Right now, the staff believes two of the wolves there might be pregnant, although they don't know for sure yet.
|One of the Gray Mexican wolves in the program (she might be pregnant)|
We also learned that the life expectancy of wolves in the wild is pretty low, sometimes only 3-5 years. In captivity, the life expectancy increases drastically. Some of the wolves at the Center lived to 18-20 years. It is important for people to understand that wolves cannot be pets. They are wild animals that needs the freedom of large spaces and cannot really be domesticated. They may look like adorable dogs, but they are not. Unfortunately, there are people who do not heed this advice and try to raise wolves as pets. Many of those wolves then end up in rescue and conservation centers because their owners finally realize they cannot keep them. Our tour guide said that the conservation centers are running out of space because of these situations. Education of the public about wolves is imperative for their survival.
|A pair of Red Wolves in the program at the Center (image credit: nyuwolf.org)|
Next, I'd like to visit the wolf conservation centers in New Jersey. As a writer, these trips give me a wealth of inspiration and supplement my research about these beautiful animals.