Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

So I flew out to Colorado on August 12th. It was the start of a short vacation. A much needed vacation. I haven't been on vacation since I've been back from Colorado in the winter of 2010. Well my main reason for coming out to Colorado was to visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide, Colorado. I had read about someone's experience online somewhere, probably on Reddit and had to go.

The center focuses their tour around the conservation of wildlife in their natural habitats.The regular tour was very informative and educational. The center really impresses the cruelty towards these animals as well as their importance to a natural ecosystem. All the staff were very friendly. They definitely enjoyed their job and are dedicated to the cause of helping these animals.

Here's the website for more info http://wolfeducation.org/

The VIP photo tour gave me the chance to interact with some of their wolves. It's a once in a lifetime experience to up close and personal with some wolves! It was amazing!

The Regular Tour
It started off with a visit to their red foxes. This guys and girls were pretty cool. They didn't do much most of the time other than beg for food but definitely interesting little critters. They were a bit shaggy looking because they were shedding.

These two are brother and sister. Even though, they are white they are in fact red foxes. Its disturbing to know that their dna was altered to get the whitish coat. This is what fur farms do because the white fur is more desirable.

Another sad fact is that dozens are killed to make one coat. It's so unnecessary especially since there are so many faux furs out there. It's one thing if we were still hunters and gathers but at this stage in civilization its unnecessary.

Here's the video regarding the foxes:

Onto to the wolves

So first off, for those concerned with safety, the wolves are behind fence and for additional protection for tourists and the wolves there is an electric fence to stop them from escaping. From what I saw and you'll get a feel for it to, there is no danger. Many of the wolves have been raised in captivity and are accustomed to the center's environment. It was a feeding tour and the wolves safely approach the viewing area eager for a little treat. 

The tour started off with some interesting facts about the wolves. At some point, Yellowstone national park the population of gray wolves was nearly extinct, due to hunting. For almost a century there was not any significant amount of wolves in Yellowstone. However in the 90's, they were reintroduced into the park and had a significant impact on the ecosystem. Prior to the reintroduction, the elk were the largest mammals in the ecosystem without any natural predators. They population grew to unnatural numbers and their primary food decreased. The re-introduction of wolves controlled their numbers and food consumption. I can't explain the entire balancing act in my own words but here are some articles that help explain it better:

With all the educational material aside.... THE WOLVES ARE AWESOME! They had some grey wolves, some timber wolves, and I'm not sure what other kinds. They are majestic animals and in this environment, act a lot like dogs. Well it's actually the other way around if you think about it. I'll let the photos and videos speak for themselves.
Just a cute story of 2 of the wolves. 

That's my buddy Keyni. I have some pictures with him below. 

If I remember correctly, this one is Princess and she was raised by humans. She had a lot of dog habitats. She actually wags her tail for a treat which the other wolves generally don't.

 This is one of the cooler videos. Don't skip over this one. 

That's Pat. He's a volunteer and frequents the center. He's playing with my buddy.

The VIP photo tour 
This is my favorite part of the tour. A chance to interact with them. Myself and another family of 4, were given the opportunity (we paid extra) to go into one of the wolves areas and play with them. This is what I had been waiting for, and the primary reason for making a trip all the way out to Colorado. When interacting with the wolves, we were all asked to sit down so that we are non threatening. We also weren't allowed to bring our own cameras and any items. I guess in the past, they've been known to steal items.

There were 3 gray wolves, Sakara (the alpha), Kekoa and Keyni. Sakara didn't much care for us. She didn't bother approaching us and just kept an eye from her spot. I didn't get any pictures with her. We all had a chance to give them some treats. At first we were asked to hold the treat in a fist with a small opening. They just came up and started liking it and nibbling our hands to get the treat. After they were accustomed to us, we just hung out.


Kekoa is the big male and as explained by one of the videos, he's the ladies man. He generally gives a lot more attention to the females of a tour group. I only had a minute or so to interact with him. By the end, he was lying down next to a lady and letting her pet him. I wish I had my camera for it.

So this is the pup. I'm not sure how old. He seems to be no bigger than 70 lbs and he's extremely playful. We got along famously. Most of the time, I was just playing with him. He seemed to be having fun. I think it's cause I let him play bite. He was grabbing my arm and nipping at my forearms a lot. At one point, he had my bicep in his jaws. Other times he tickled me by nipping my back.

After the photos, I spent most of my time with him. He like the attention. He would actually come to me when I called. After awhile, he went to the side to just rest.