Encounters of the Wild Kind
(NB please see below for details of where to walk with wolves in 2003!)
I had a dream, that dream came true
and it could for you to. Have you ever wanted to walk with a wolf? Be so close
to it that you can touch it? Well you can. As a member of the UK Wolf
Conservation Trust, that dream can come true.
The Trust owns 7 wolves, let me introduce them.
North American Timber Wolves:
Kodiak - The Alpha Male, Kenai - The Alpha Female, Drum & Dakota - both 4 year old females.
- the male, and his 2 sisters Latea & Lunca - they are 2 years old and were born at the Trust
The aim of the Trust is to dispel the
myths surrounding wolves. Come and meet these most magnificent of creatures,
spend up to 2 hours (rain or shine) walking in woods local to Beenham with up to
5 of the wolves.
Before you actually meet them, you are
given a brief introduction by either Roger Palmer or one of the Senior Handlers
and advice is given regarding safety.
Watch through the trees and here they
come. They will walk among you to note the scents of the new members of their
pack. Let them sniff your hand, they may even rub up against you. There is no
need to be afraid.
Now they are ready to walk and you
need to try and keep pace with them. Donít worry, they havenít lost anyone
yet and there are stops to allow you to catch up. These are also good
opportunities to take photos but you have to be quick because they donít
usually keep still for long. And youíre off again.
Can you stroke them? Yes but not in
the same way as a dog. They are not dogs, they are wild animals which have been
hand reared and are used to humans. They wonít run from you, the way a wild
wolf would but they consider a hand on their head or back as a sign of
dominance. This is acceptable from the handlers, they know them but you are a
stranger, therefore you can tickle/rub their tummy or the inside of their back
leg. They love this, it is reassuring.
As well as walking through trees, they
walk round a small lake and sometimes the wolves go for a swim (which is one of
the reasons the handlers usually wear wellingtons). However when they come out
of the water, Stand Back, the water isnít of the most pleasant aroma at times
and they do enjoy a good shack.
Two hours of walking with wolves,
fussing over them and hopefully getting some good photos as well. Then back to
the Trust centre, where you can enjoy refreshments, view and hopefully buy some
of the merchandise they have for sale and see the wolves in their enclosures. If
you are really lucky you may hear them Howl. It is a magical sound.
(5) A Close Encounter with Wolves
Event #: 5
Set up in 1993, Wolf Watch UK (WWUK) is a rescue project dedicated to the conservation of wolves. Relocating to its current address in 1997 enabled the project to fulfil one of its primary ambitions - to provide ever more wild and expansive areas for its resident wolves. They now enjoy enclosures that include forests, streams, hills and even a small lake. The latest area encompasses around 20 acres of land and is possibly the largest in the world to date.
Tony Haighway is the director of the Wolf Watch UK project and its rescue centre.
Beginning at 2.00pm with an introductory talk, you will be taken on a guided walk through the valley during which you will meet the resident wolves. The tour highlight is an opportunity to stroke those wolves that are habituated to humans. All contact is undertaken at your own risk. Tea, coffee and biscuits in the shop round off the visit, which should finish by 4.30pm.
Strictly no dogs
Don't forget, if you want to read about wolves in their natural habitat in one of the last great unspoilt areas for wildlife in Europe please click on the following link - and if you want to find books about them, you can visit the bookstore.