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St. Louis Has a Hidden Treasure in The Endangered Wolf Center

While sitting around a campfire on a chilly, moonlit evening - listening to the wolves howl in the valley, I felt a connection to the natural world that I had not felt in decades.

I visited the Endangered Wolf Center one time in the 80’s - on a field trip. When I learned that a longtime customer of mine was now their executive director, I immediately offered my computer and social networking services, and they accepted.

For most of my life I believed the World Bird Sanctuary and Endangered Wolf Center were part of the same effort. I believed that because 30 years ago, they were on the same property at the Tyson Research Center of Washington University.

It turns out this is no longer the case. The two are now at different locations, and while they have similar naturalist missions they are only connected in spirit...for now.

Personally, it was an opportunity to do something that gets me outdoors a bit. At least, that was the initial purpose. As a young child we spent most of our time outdoors; camping, floating, biking, etc. But, as I got older, everything changed to video games, television, computers, and movies.

But that was then. When I arrived on site, I was immediately hooked and forever changed. I fell in love with the cause, the animals, the staff, and what they have accomplished over the years with very limited resources.  Unlike many non-profits, they receive no financial assistance from the government. All of their funding comes from membership and the generosity of their donors and volunteers, and admission prices from their public tours and evening events.

It’s hard to imagine, but when the Endangered Wolf Center was founded in 1971 by Marlin Perkins, the Mexican gray wolf was down to 5 of their kind left in the wild. Forty years later, there are now 12 times that many, but still only about 58.

A primary challenge is not that they can’t get them to breed, but that they have to fight the common misconception in the public sphere that wolves are dangerous to humans. The truth is exactly the opposite.

Steve Parker, Operations Director of EWC says that wolves are incredibly shy. When a human enters their territory or enclosure, the wolves will get as far away from them as they can. If the man or woman moves closer to the wolf, it will work its way around the enclosure to keep its distance.

Wolves are shy?

That was a surprise. I, like most, considered them to be aggressive animals that protected their territory and fed on whatever meat may be available. It turns out, I could not have been more wrong.

The EWC has other challenges as well, but I will let you visit them to learn the whole story for yourself. As a matter of fact, visiting them with your family is something I highly recommend.

After my tech support visit on Wednesday, I immediately took them up on their offer to bring my family out for a ‘Wolf Howl’ campfire that Friday evening. I learned much more about these beautiful animals, and as I sat around the fire on that chilly moonlit evening, listening to the wolves howl in the valley, I felt a connection to the natural world that I had not felt in decades.

My children, initially unexcited about the visit, are now fans of the wolves and wear their EWC t-shirts to baseball practice.

In the end, the Wolf Center’s computers ended up in much better shape than when I arrived, but I’m the one that came out ahead. It was a therapeutic experience that benefitted me. I’m sold on their mission, and as Executive Director Ginny Busch said, “We no longer want to be the best kept secret in St. Louis. We want to be a must-see, well-known destination; not just for St. Louisans, but for the world.”

For More Information:

Visit www.endangeredwolfcenter.org. The vision of the Endangered Wolf Center is a world where wolves and other wild canid species coexist with humans and thrive in their native habitats, recognized and valued for their vital roles as leading members of a healthy ecosystem. The Center's mission is to preserve and protect Mexican gray wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. 

Follow The Endangered Wolf Center on Twitter: @STLWolfCenter or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EndangeredWolfCenter

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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