This morning I would like to share my recent trip to the California Wolf Center with all of you. This trip was my Christmas present. I am admittedly not the easiest person to buy for and I have to say that my husband did amazingly getting me this. I have been very excited from the moment I got it the information to take this trip. It was a bit dampened by my old girls recent health issues but as my blog stated yesterday we made arrangements for their care by my son. So we left on Friday morning and returned Saturday at noon.
The trip was glorious, not only because of the fact that we got to visit the wolves but the scenery is spectacular. A very welcome break to the hustle bustle of Southern California. The weather could not have been more perfect, nice and cold. The Wolf Center is a mere 4 miles approx. outside of Julian, CA. The drive from Julian to the Wolf Center is beautiful and with all of our recent rain, green. As you pull in off the main road you start your trek on a dirt road (love it) and again with all the rain, a very mucky dirt road. We were luckily in a big four wheel drive SUV, wish I'd taken my xterra though, it would have been a great off road drive. Anyhow, we were met at the locked gate by Bonnie who is the Animal Care and Facilities Manager.
Another quick trip down the road and you are at the facility. We started immediately, I got my two cameras ready and couldn't wait. My husband had hoped to get me inside the enclosures but at this time of year, mating season is just around the corner. Because of this, inside visits are not available right now. So instead of waiting we decided on the outside visit and could go back if we liked it, which I will be doing.
The first enclosure we saw was the Alaskan Gray wolves. When we walked up two of males in the enclosure scooted away to the back and the one and only female in the enclosure stayed and allowed me to get fairly close for some beautiful images. She was very relaxed as you can see.
These guys were very hard to photograph as they were extremely skittish. They basically did drive by viewings of us and I tried my best to move as little as possible or they were gone in a flash. Wolves in general are extremely suspicious of anything new, be it a person or object. So shooting as calmly as I could possibly accomplish I got a few shots. Mexican wolves are an endangered species, these wolves are housed here for re release in hopes of re-populating the species.
This male had been eating before we got there.
Checking us out.
This ball was placed into the enclosure and covered with food to entice play. First it was licked by the female and then marked by all of the males one after another.
As I stood and watched the communications going on between the males it was clear that something was going on. It was not long before a dispute errupted, it was very loud and impressive but no one got hurt. Wolves are hardwired so that they do not hurt one another, this is instinctive. There is a lot of noise and posturing but that is where it usually ends. There is a rare occasion when it goes further than this. Once the dispute was over, the posturing continued for quite a while.
We had booked the private tour, I enjoyed having our guide to ourselves. This enabled me to ask the zillion behavior questions that I had. Hearing how passionate Bonnie was about the wolves along with the wealth of knowledge she was able to share with us made the trip.
There was also a very old girl that was housed within the enclosure. A 15 year old female Alaskan Gray with Vestibular Disease, she had a tilt just like my girl Tilley. I will discuss her, Tilley and Vestibular disease in tomorrows blog as it will the year Anniversary from when Tilley was struck with this disease.
If you are in the area; I would definitely recommend a trip to the California Wolf Center. This is a wonderful place for anyone to learn about this amazingly beautiful species that is very misunderstood. The wolf is a much needed predator, they will all but disappear without human intervention. It was we humans who detroyed their vast populations and it is now up to us to fix it.
Visit them on Facebook as well: California Wolf Center