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Trip to Wolf Park - Phil's Rambling Rants
November 20th, 2004
08:55 pm

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Trip to Wolf Park
Long before I got seriously interested in tigers, I got interested in wolves, and I have been a wolf sponsor at Wolf Park sincd 1987. These days, I get over there (near Lafayette, IN) very rarely. They close for the season at the end of November, and since next weekend is Chambanacon, if I was going to get there this year it had to be today.

The major tangible benefit of sponsoring a wolf at Wolf Park is that you get to have hands-on visits with your wolf (or a proxy, if you sponsor a wolf that can't be visited safely). But nowadays, you have to arrange such a visit in advance. I hadn't sorted out the chaos of my life completely enough to be sure I would be visiting this weekend until this week. I sent email to the park on Wednesday, and waited until Friday to tell me that I had to make an appointment by phone (even though I'd done it by email for the last several years), and I didn't actually get the email until 11:00. So I didn't get to have any hands-on contact with the wolves, which left me feeling pretty bummed out.

The strict policy of having to make an appointment in advance is just one aspect of how the place has changed since I first started visiting. They used to be a shoestring operation, not very fancy looking, and much friendlier and more open, but they started to get enough people and money coming in a number of years ago that they became a much more commercial operation. They have very fancy facilities now, and they can accommodate hundreds of visitors at once, but they're also much more distant from the visitors. I told Pat Goodmann, who runs the wolf sponsorship program, about how I'd tried to contact them in advance to arrange an appointment, but despite the fact that I've known her for 17 years, she didn't take the hint that I wanted to visit my wolf today. I don't mean to imply that she's being nasty to me; it's just that with so many thousands of visitors coming through the facility, and given the realities of the ravening hordes of lawyers out there, they can't make exceptions to strict policies of who gets to get close to the wolves. It was different 15 years ago, and frankly, even though the place obviously has much more appeal as a tourist attraction to the unwashed masses today, I miss the old Wolf Park, where a sponsor could show up without warning and they would work in a visit. The old wolf park had a big impact on my life, and I spent a lot of time there in the late 80's, but if the me of 1987 had visited the Wolf Park of 2004, I don't think he'd have cared.

Despite the fact that the trip was something of a bummer, I did enjoy seeing the wolves, especially the puppies that were born this April. (They are almost adult size, but still have distinctly puppyish personalities.) And desptite the fact that I had to take most of my pictures through fences (with perimiter fences that prevented me from getting the camera close enough to the fence that it wouldn't mess up the picture), I took a lot of pictures. Some of them are even good, and some of the ones that are badly fenced are still amusing enough to be worth sharing on the web. (Someone with much more time and/or Photoshop skill might be able to effectively remove fence artifacts from pictures, but I can't at this point.)

The following is the LJ picture site's formatting with a little light editing on my part.


Visitor Center

The Wolf Park visitor center from the parking lot. This view clearly shows how the place has changed in character since I first became acquainted with it.
Visitor Center
Climbing on things

Two of the puppies on the big log and a tall stump
Climbing on things
Wolf on a pedestal

This puppy is on a surprisingly tall stump, about 4 feet off the ground.
Wolf on a pedestal
Posing on the log

This big log is a great place for photographs.
Posing on the log
Chetan

Chetan
Tristan

Tristan
Monty Sloan

Staff photographer Monty Sloan notices I'm pointing my camera at him.
Monty Sloan
Nice hat!

One of the puppies climbs on Monty's head.
Nice hat!
Monty gets a kiss

The puppies are rallying to Monty.
Monty gets a kiss
White fox

White fox
Black fox

Black fox
New Guinea Singing Dog

Wolf Park is hosting a pair of these interesting critters while the Lafayette zoo remodels.
New Guinea Singing Dog

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:filkerdave
Date:November 20th, 2004 08:28 pm (UTC)
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MAJOR jealousy here!
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From:tigertoy
Date:November 21st, 2004 05:52 am (UTC)
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Well, unlike my experience with EFRC, all you have to do to do at Wolf Park is to show up in central Indiana and pay $5. (It's less than an hour from the Indianapolis airport, if you happen to be in the city for business some time.) It is still a good place to see wolves and learn about them -- just not the truly special place it used to be.
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From:filkerdave
Date:November 21st, 2004 08:05 am (UTC)
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Yabbut...Indiana's a bit away from New York and I haven't actually been there.
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From:msminlr
Date:November 21st, 2004 05:14 am (UTC)
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That Chetan is a truly classic Gray Wolf!
And Tristan's markings (especially the face) remind me strongly of the Husky sled dog.

I'm not too cracked on the way The System puts the caption for one picture right below the previous one, either. When Sharon posts a bunch of pictures I've taken to copying the whole thing out into a RichText document page, so I can insert page breaks that make these associations much clearer. (I can also downsize the pictures to 2-on-a-page size, which conserves both trees and colored ink cartridges when I print the posting out to share with Sharon's grandparents!)
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From:tigertoy
Date:November 21st, 2004 05:54 am (UTC)
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I used their default formatting not because I like it but because doing better takes more time, and I didn't have any more. Some day I will learn more about HTML, and be able to do better without taking so much time.
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From:poltr1
Date:November 21st, 2004 07:15 am (UTC)
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I first heard of Wolf Park through Wendy and Richard Pini -- the writers/authors of the ElfQuest comic book series. They had adopted a wolf there (Betsy, I believe), and mentioned it in the author's column. Betsy has since passed on.

My wife and I went to Wolf Park as part of our first anniverary trip, in the summer of 2000. We got to howl with them later that night. We also got to visit the Tippecanoe Battleground Memorial, where the spirits of the war dead still linger. There's an incredible sadness there -- overwhelming, if you're psychically sensitive.
From:starstraf
Date:November 21st, 2004 12:11 pm (UTC)
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I haven't been to Wolf Park since - oh my - I was still living in Chicago - okay - just to long.
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