Monday, December 10, 2012

Walking With Wolves

4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

That dry run to Julian (see 12/5 entry) indicated it would take about 90 minutes to get to the California Wolf Center. Leaving at 5:00, we should be at the front gate by 6:30 with plenty of time to sign the appropriate forms and get the final instructions from Chelsea, the Director of Animal Care and our guide.

We then entered the enclosure of four Mexican gray wolves.
For the next two hours, it would just be Chelsea, Kate, and me with two packs of wolves.

And our cameras.
We had signed up for the photography tour about four months ago. The tours are available through the Center on Wednesdays and Saturdays and have been sold out for the rest of this year for some time.
As it turns out, the wolves will tolerate three people with little concern. With four or more the wolves become stressed, anticipating being captured (for example, for a veteranarian check-up) or moved.

The wolves showed little interest in us after about 10 minutes and were quite calm as long as we made no sudden movements.

We had the bottom of our boots sprayed with a weak solution of bleach to prevent any harmful substances being carried in.
When we left this enclosure, the wolves immediately came over to where we had been standing and began investigating the scents.

We then moved to another enclosure, which covered about two acres, where five Alaskan Wolves lived.
Had Chelsea not periodically tossed bits of food in the open area, the wolves would have remained in the grove of small trees.
This was quite an opportunity--being close enough to focus on the eyes of these beautiful animals.

Chelsea passed along stories about the behavior of the wolves in packs and in interactions with each other. It seemed easy to associate human emotions to the actions of the wolves.
One of her stories covered examples of how one member of the pack cared for another wolf that had difficulty walking. When the older wolf was unable to reach the food on its own, the able one would bring food to it and not eat until the older wolf had had its fill.
The staff are urged not to attribute human characteristics and emotions to the wolves, but I can't imagine being able to comply with that advice.
In just the few minutes we were with these animals, we could see different personalities.

More tomorrow.

1 comment:

mcraywood said...

We were brusquely shaken out of the thrall of your incredible pictures and the serene mood you had set by the news that Yellowstone's "world famous" Alpha Wolf had been (legally) shot and killed by a hunter. And more to come as the Wolf hunting/trapping season continues.

Mary Raywood