Images from Wolf Park - July 2002
In July 2002, I spent three weeks in America on holiday, and was lucky enough to be able to visit Wolf Park on two separate occasions. Wolf Park, located just outside Battle Ground in Indiana, was set up in 1972 as a facility for education and research into wolves. Owning 16 wolves (among several packs), 4 foxes, a coyote and 20 bison, the main aims of the park are to promote and better the understanding of the wolf among children, while at the same time carrying out research into lupine behaviour - particularly on a social level, and that observed during the breeding season.
The park is also open to the public during the summer season, in particular on Saturday evenings when the wolves are generally more active (as it's not so hot) and they're started off howling. Sadly, my attempts to be there for that, together with a staff member we knew and 5 other Furs got thwarted when none of the five could be bothered to journey the hour up there.
Away from their main pack are a number of smaller enclosures referred to by the park as the 'Eastlake Community.' Here are placed wolves that cannot be in the main pack for one reason or another. Sometimes they're injured, sometimes they've been acquired by the park at an age beyond that which other wolves' 'mothering instincts' come into play and they can be accepted as pack-members. More often than not, though, they have been 'retired' from the main pack through old age, bullying, or a serious challenge to their social status, all of which, in the wild, would have either led to the wolf's expulsion from the pack, or its death at the paws of its once fellow pack members.
Of course, visiting fur-covered animals early afternoon on a scorching hot summer's day (it must have been well over 90°F when we were there) is not the best thing to do if you want to see a lot of action. Even come closing time for the park at 5 p.m., most of the wolves are hiding in the grass or basking away under trees in the heat, while the more adventurous are out sunbathing on platforms.
Unfortunately, the disadvantage is that the visitor is not able to explore at his or her own pace, and thus unable to spend much time watching the wolves and what they get up to. While the main pack does have a free viewing area, on the occasions we visited, it was the wolves in the outlying areas which were more active, and which I'd have appreciated the opportunity to dwell a little and observe.
Other Animals at Wolf Park
Wolf Park also own four red foxes - two with 'conventional' fur colouring, one silver-phased, and one almost white. With two of each sex, all born between 1996 and 2000, all four are kept in one large enclosure to one side of the main wolf pack. All are socialised animals, though Ember slightly less so, and often enjoy interacting with the public.
These photos are all from the first visit we made to the park - despite the heat, all four of the foxes were active, which is more than can be said for their lupine counterparts.
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by "Lone Wolf" unless otherwise stated