Since its founding 30 plus years ago, the Wolf Sanctuary of PA has provided wolves and wolf hybrids a way out of institutionalized lives and deaths.
Today, Wolf Sanctuary of PA has renovated infrastructure, beautifully expanded living and sleeping spaces, and veterinary care. The wolves at the Sanctuary tend to live twice a wolf's natural life span.
My love of dogs extends naturally to wolves. And it's sad, in my view, that there are no wolves in the wild on the East Coast. (On the other hand, at the same time I admit I am reasonably glad that the scariest thing I'll encounter on most hikes are ticks -- not sure there's a way to resolve this cognitive dissonance.) As soon as I heard about the Sanctuary just over a week ago, I knew I'd have to visit and blog about it.
"We try to be as respectful of the wolf nation as we can. We allow them to be themselves, and handle their own matters within reason," said Dawn Darlington, owner of the Sanctuary.
The wolves are primarily fed from donated meat from local restaurants, fresh deer roadkill, and hunters who donate excess deer to the Sanctuary -- in fact, the Sanctuary has walk-in freezers to accommodate the food donations (although the Sanctuary can always use more meat donations). Although the wolves on the tour -- only about half the population at the Sanctuary -- crowded around the fences while we were there, I got the sense that they were otherwise rarely near the outer areas of their enclosures.
I had asked about one of the wolves in
Darlington emphasized the importance -- and quality -- of the Sanctuary's volunteer staff. "You will find much love and respect here at the sanctuary," she said. "We work together, my volunteers are amazing people that give of their time and themselves for the good of the sanctuary."
My boys had initially complained when I had announced to them several nights before the day trip that we would be going AND, adding insult to injury, would have to get up early to get there by the 10 a.m. tour -- the only tour of the day (during the winter months tours are held at 12 noon). But the mystique of the wolves grew on them -- my youngest son even invited a friend of his to come along. My eldest son was in awe of the wolves, and I think all three boys came away appreciating their magnificence. I tried to emphasize: you'll rarely get to see a real live wolf, certainly not as close as we were, and never so many in just one location.
Certainly worth a day trip to visit and support the Sanctuary's work!
Tip #1: Spray with bug spray before you leave your car. I came away with more than half a dozen bug bites, including a fly bite that was extremely painful.
Tip#2: Eat lunch and browse the shops at nearby Lititz.
Tip#3: Consider going on a Full-Moon Tour, when the Santuary holds a bonfire and tours. See the website for more information.
Hours: During the summer, public tours only on 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; Winter months tours are 12 noon Saturday and Sunday: plan to arrive around 30 minutes before the tour time and no later than 10 minutes after tour time. Entrance gate opens about 30 minutes before the tour and closes 10 minutes after start of tour. Visitors are not admitted on the grounds after the entrance gate closes. Be sure to check out http://wolfsanctuarypa.org/tours-events-2/ for the most up-to-date information.
Dogs: No -- the Sanctuary is strictly for wolves! And the owners' cats.