Kissed by Wolves
When I heard we could go to a wolf preserve in Chipley, FL on our way to Alabama, I lost my mind in excitement to take part in this adventure. The non-profit Seacrest Wolf Preserve‘s goal is to create greater awareness of this keystone species and the contributions they make to their natural eco-systems. Funny rules were stated on their website about what we could wear, what we could and couldn’t bring, and the fact that we were going to be sitting on the ground as wolves walked around us.
Finally the day arrived and we lined up to sign our liability waiver. Not long after that, we were escorted into the first of several compounds which were associated with different packs. We selected a log for a seat, and sure enough, it was a great pick for getting noticed by the wolves. The 6 trainers each had a bag of raw meat that they used to tempt the wolves in different directions, to walk among our group of 60 people. Not 10 minutes had passed and I was stroking the top of the wolf’s back, his soft underside, and giving a thorough scratch to his chest and head. I was rewarded with kisses (muzzle greetings) on my cheek and chin! Oh was I in heaven! Later when we were able to stand in front of several wolves to be photographed, Colin was also greeted with a full face-lick. It was already an astounding day and we were just getting started.
Lead by our tour guide, one of the more interesting things we did as a group, was being encouraged to howl. Within a few minutes, the different packs joined us, and then we were silent as they continued for several more minutes. To hear 34 wolves howling in a natural environment was surreal (hear the audio file below the photo gallery).
We visited two more compounds / different environments that included a stream and pond from which the wolves drank and swam and a deeply forested area where we saw a particular pack’s den.
In addition to the Gray, Arctic, and British Columbian wolves, there were peacocks, raccoons, fox, and skunk, which we could feed and stroke. No one got sprayed by the skunk, but a lot of people were too nervous to go near them!
Sleeping Near the Wolves
We had booked a campsite at the Wolf Preserve, and little did we know that we’d be the only campers and have a concert of wolf music during the night and morning light. When the howling began after all the other people had left the preserve, there we were, alone and hearing those musical voices, and getting such a kick out of being in their midst.
We were not allowed to take our digital cameras or iPhones with us into the wolf enclosures; although disposable film cameras were allowed. Photography tours started at $650 for 1/2 day, so although disappointed that we were not able to get in on a VIP tour, our $25 pp entrance fee felt like a bargain of excellent value.
Our pictures of the wolves with our throw-away cameras were okay, but not up to Colin’s standard. Therefore, the banner you see above was created by me from pictures from the Seacrest website.
Click on any thumbnail below to see larger image gallery.
Click to hear the Howling Wolves
Click on map below to see larger version
Seacrest Wolf Preserve, Florida