Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wolf Sanctuary of PA

Back in November, on a freezing cold day, we made a trip to a wolf sanctuary, just outside Lancaster (Wolf Sanctuary of PA).  Surprisingly, when we'd mentioned it to local friends, many of them weren't aware that it even existed, so we hoped it would be worth the trip!

The sanctuary is tucked away in a large area of woodland, and has been owned by the same family for over 30 years, initially as a rescue centre for "displaced" wolves, and now increasingly as an educational centre, trying to raise awareness about the plight of wild wolves.  They currently look after over 40 wolves (grey and timberland) and wolf-hybrids in a natural environment, and are run as a charity, dependant on donations of money, time, structural materials and also food scraps and meat from nearby restaurants and homes.  (You can also adopt one of the wolves too!)

We took a daytime tour, but they also offer full moon tours once a month, which probably adds to the atmosphere, especially in the snow!  Our guide was very knowledgeable, explaining all about how the sanctuary has grown, and also introducing us to each of the wolf packs in turn.  As we started out, we were greeted by a full-on pack howl by one of the biggest packs - proper raised-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment, especially when the other packs joined in too!

So many different stories about how each of the wolves had come to the sanctuary.  Unbelievably, some had been formerly owned as pets - one was released into parkland in Philadelphia when the owner realised they could no longer look after such a wild creature.  Another was rescued as a puppy from someone who thought it would be fine to keep it as a pet in an apartment in the centre of Lancaster...  Another had developed cataracts in both eyes and was blind - in the wild he would not have survived, but at the sanctuary he knew his environment and his other pack partner so well that you wouldn't have known about his disability.

My, what big teeth you have, Grandma...
Observing the wolves up close in their natural habitats, albeit behind sturdy fences, was an amazing experience.  Learning about their individual histories, their pack culture (alphas and omegas) and their behaviours (including their love of hot dog sausages), as well as listening to the crack of bone as their powerful jaws and teeth chomped effortlessly through chicken legs, was an eye-opening privilege, and one we're bound to repeat again in the future.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait to go back. It was a fantastic experience.