This weekend, continuing our ongoing tour of everywhere in Northern Indiana, we finally had the chance to visit Wolf Park. Wolf Park is a local not-for-profit dedicated to behavioral research, education and conservation, to improve understanding of wolves and the value they provide to our environment. If you’re anywhere nearby, you should check it out.
By sheer luck, we got there during the annual pumpkin feast. For this, they carve up some pumpkins, fill them with tasty treats (hot dogs, spam, beef jerky, dead rats…) and toss them in. the wolves proceed to bury their entire heads into the pumpkins and feast away. In addition to wolves, the park has several coyotes, foxes, and a herd of bison. The bison were particularly entertaining as they first ran away from the pumpkin, then cautiously approached it, staring intently as if an alien space craft that had landed in their field.
The park was similar to Single Vision, a big cat sanctuary that I frequented in Florida. Single Vision houses many tigers that were taken in as pets and later abandoned by their owners.
Aside from being entertaining, these types of sanctuaries can serve as centers for research and education for the public while being a safe haven for animals that often have no other place left in the world. According to one zoo biologist I recently spoke with: “there are more tigers in Florida (as pets) than in all of India”, a sure sign that our planet has undergone some strange transformations in the past hundred years. While the real goal of conservation biology may be to preserve and restore biodiversity in the wild, these institutions can be important pieces in the grand puzzle.
Animal sanctuaries are often not extremely well advertised. I lived in North Florida for 8 years before I learned of Single Vision and nobody I know in South Bend had heard of Wolf Park. But if you do some digging, you can probably find places like this in your area. Here are a couple (very incomplete) lists to start you out:
Other Relevant Links:
Wolf Park – www.wolfpark.org – Battle Ground, IN
Single Vision – www.singlevisioninc.org – Melrose, FL
G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial (another similar place I’ve been to) – www.gwpark.org – Wynnewood, OK
On an unrelated note: if you’re also into history, check out Tippecanoe Historic Battlefield (just next door to Wolf Park), site of the battle that instigated the war of 1812 and where the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” originated!