The day started like pretty much any other day. Chores, playing on Facebook, debating which book to dive into next. Then I receive a text. No big deal, right? People get texts all the time. So why was it so important? This text was from my brother, again, not so unusual, but it was the message. He had found a wolf preserve within driving distance to both of us. Knowing it was a dream we each held dear, plus a major bucket list item, I was beyond excited!
Not many people know that the Wolf is my Spirit Guide. He came to me when I was little, during a tumultuous time in my life, and hasn’t left me since. Growing up, we hear the stories of the Big Bad Wolf and Werewolves. In movies and television shows, they’re always portrayed as killers and bringers of the darkest evil. However, they never scared me. On the contrary, they fascinated me. There was a secret to them that not many knew. I wonder if this lack of fear was because even then, I knew we were kindred souls. I too had a hidden life and strength. When I’d go camping in the backwoods of Florida, my childlike imagination would hope to see one. I didn’t know that wolves haven’t roamed those areas in forever.
Native American and Celtic custom regard the Wolf as the way of finding the deepest levels of self, of inner knowing and intuition. (…) The wolf, is a symbol of the night. This time can seem lonesome and scary to us. But it is also the time when through dreams, we may discover valuable things about ourselves. This is a lonely path. To truly come to understand yourself, you must be alone, undeterred by the beliefs, judgements and views of others. The wolf teaches us to learn about our inner self and to discover our inner power and strength. However, to achieve this, we must take risks and face our deepest fears. Wolf requires sincerity. Though demanding a lot of us, much is given in return; a spirit helper that is always there to help, giving us extraordinary powers of endurance. Learn to hear the voice within yourself, which in silence is as clear as the sound of the wolf howling in the night. ~ Shamanic Journey; Wolf Power Animal Symbol of Wildness, Social and Family Values
As I grew older and started to think about what I wanted to do as an adult, it always came back to them. I wanted to be near them. In the wild, in a sanctuary, at a preserve or zoo. Unfortunately, I got really sick and my plans for college had to be put on hold. That dream job hasn’t left me though. It may take me a while yet, but I will one day work to save them and teach others about these amazing animals.
Wolf Creek Habitat in Southeastern Indiana does exactly that. Their mission is to “educate people on the importance of these magnificent creatures.” They’re only open on weekends and the hours vary based on the season. A visit to their Facebook page will give you any specifics for that particular day such as operating hours. For example, they were closing early on the day we went due to an educational program some of the wolves were attending.
On the 2nd Friday of every month, they also host an event called ‘Howlin’ at the Habitat‘. Wolves are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk, so holding the event from 6 – 9 p.m. will allow you to see them when they’re most active. The cost is $50 per person regularly ($25 for military members and children under 12 years old) and that will get you into 3 of the enclosures. Groups of 10 or more will only cost you $40/person. You also have to be at least 53″ tall to interact with the wolves. If you’re unsure about all that and would just like to see them, or have smaller kids that can’t join in the fun, it is always free to come stand on the catwalk and observe from above.
If you do choose to go in, at least 2 handlers are with you at all times and they’re exceptionally knowledgeable on both the wolves at the sanctuary and the species in general. They recommend that you wear long pants and a t-shirt or long sleeved shirt as well as closed toed shoes. The wolves can and will jump up on you so I’d recommend not coming in with something you might worry about getting messed up. Speaking of the wolves, they also like shiny things so jewelry, barrettes, zippers, and the like might become an object for chewing. My hair clip was of particular fascination and so was another participant’s nose ring. The only other restrictions are cameras. They make it a point to not allow any large cameras in the enclosures. Cell phones and compact cameras are acceptable but they won’t take responsibility if they get messed up. Again, checking the website will give you all this information too.
Started by a family which still lives on the property, Wolf Creek Habitat is registered as a non-profit organization and is USDA Licensed. All funds raised by admission, educational events, and merchandise go straight into the running of the sanctuary. Food, maintenance, and electric are the biggest expenses according to the brochure.
Our goals at Wolf Creek are to provide the best home and care possible to the wolves that are owned illegally, abused and neglected, and those that people for some reason inappropriately choose to raise as pets (of which usually get euthanized or abandoned once people realize that wild animals don’t make good pets and don’t want them anymore). It is unfortunate that wolves under these circumstances could not survive if they were attempted to be reintroduced into the wild. Animals can live their lives at Wolf Creek being very loved and very well taken care of by some of the most passionate people we’ve ever met. We strive to educate about the false stigma that has been created around these non-violent animals. Movies and stories make wolves sound like vicious killers and they simply are not. Wolves are tranquil, innately afraid of humans, and animals that give balance to nature by predication of the overpopulated hoofed animals (deer, elk, caribou, moose, buffalo, etc.).
~ About Us; Wolf Creek Habitat Pamphlet
I think the short film, called Ambassadors, made back in 2013 by the owners of WCH, Kathy and Terry, says it all. It’s about 6 minutes long and totally worth a watch. Wolf Creek Habitat has also been recognized by the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and visited by the man himself. You’ll see signed pictures of him and group photos with the staff as you walk into the office.
As another point of outreach, a WCH wolf has been featured in a music video and you can even have some professional pictures taken with them (think: Senior Pictures). Just note that those are done by appointment only and strictly during certain days.
I could easily gush forever. On the one hand, I want to type about everything – The Wolves, what I learned, the howling that broke out (Yes! I absolutely got a video!!). On the other, I don’t really have the words to describe my visit either. It’s just something that was felt, in my soul, to be right. It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to go again, this time sharing the wonder with my husband. Having spent time with the wolves, it has only solidified my resolve to one day work with these incredibly misunderstood animals. I owe this moment, this incredible memory, to my not so little, little brother! Thank you for finding this place and telling me about it. Sharing it with you was a blessing.
I’d like to close by sharing my encounter with Aurora, the Timberwolf. I think of all of them, she was my favorite!