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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

My Day With a Wolf Pack

It’s not often someone gets a chance to spend the day with a pack of wolves, but one of our co-workers, Roya Mogadam (Office of Congessional & Legislative Affairs) did, and she’s here on Open Spaces to tell you about what she took away from that experience.

On the outskirts of San Isabel National Forest is a sanctuary perched atop a steep hill at the end of a mile long dirt driveway.  It’s called Mission: Wolf, a rescue facility with 37 wolves and wolf-dogs.

I visited on a Saturday, a “big feed” day.

Raven howlingRaven howls as feeding time nears at Mission: Wolf

Mike, a volunteer, explained that the sanctuary attempts to create a natural “wild” environment for these captive animals. Wolves in the wild gorge themselves after a successful hunt without knowing when their next opportunity for a meal may be.  Often they do not eat for days after a hunt.

To mimic this natural behavior, Mission: Wolf feeds the animals sparingly during the week—but on Saturdays they are presented with a feast. As feeding time neared, the wolves howled in unison in a haunting chorus.

Kent Weber, Founder of Mission: WolfKent Weber, Founder of Mission: Wolf pets Farah, a wolf, while Abe, a wolf dog, yawns.

Later, I met Kent Weber, the president and founder of Mission: Wolf.  He told me stories about how some of the wolves found their way to his sanctuary.

Like one handsome male wolf named Apollo. 

He had been sold on Craigslist to a dog trainer as a Husky-German Shepherd-mix puppy. After bottle-feeding the puppy and caring for him for months, his owner began to realize his puppy was special. A visit to the vet revealed that Apollo was confirmed to be a wolf.

ApolloApollo, a wolf who was sold on craiglist as a Husky-German Shepherd Mix, now lives at Mission: Wolf

The owner, knowing the difficulties involved in raising a wolf, found his 3-month-old puppy a home at Mission: Wolf.

Apollo resides with four other wolves and wolf-dogs, Magpie, Farah, Zeab and Abraham, in the Ambassador Pack.

They occupy a huge enclosure with plenty of room to roam and play. Even in the winter, with the aspen trees bare, the sanctuary creates a beautiful natural environment for its inhabitants.

But despite its beauty, Ken still describes the sanctuary as a “jail” for wild creatures.  His mission is to educate people to prevent any more “inmates.”

Kent and his wife, Tracey, drive across the country with the Ambassador Pack to educate people about wolves and provide audiences with a powerful real-life experience with wildlife. He and the pack travel to schools, government agencies, museums, conservation groups and more.

The impact he and the wolves have on students in urban schools who have never even seen a deer, much less a pack of wolves is incredible. For them, and truly all who meet the Ambassador Pack, it is a memorable experience with wildlife that they will remember forever.

After being at the sanctuary for more than five hours (it felt like minutes!) I left Mission: Wolf with the gift of a priceless memory and a renewed sense of my mission as a Service employee and wildlife conservationist. As I drove away, I reflected on my visit and thought about just how powerful a personal encounter with wildlife can be in fostering a passion for wildlife conservation.


Although I am not a wild life crusader or enthusiast, this eloquent and tender little piece touched me. I am happy to know that the wolf [ in the picture] didn't bite off her face; but then these are semi-domesticated wolves.
# Posted By | 1/5/12 5:07 PM

Very touching but sorry, you can never recreate a "wild habitat" as long as they are dependent on humans for anything and to take them to schools and pass them off as "wild" is just wrong. Santuary n.
any place of refuge, asylum.
a tract of land where wildlife can live and breed in safety from hunters; preserve.
To pass them off as wild and that face licking is typical behavior, especially to impressionable young childeren is wrong.
# Posted By j.schroder | 1/8/12 9:11 PM

I would encourage Ms. Johnson to nbow visit a location like Stanley idaho to see how far off nature these tame wolves are. Get that experience and then come back and post her comments.
# Posted By Jim | 1/8/12 9:20 PM

I grew up in Idaho (junior high, high school and college before a career in the U.S. Air Force0), so I'm not picking a quarrel with Idaho. I do, however, think it is a giant step backward for that state's government (Idaho F and G) to be sanctioning the killing of wolves. How about letting them truly become part of the ecosystem they inhabit.
# Posted By Alan Gregory | 1/10/12 8:07 PM
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