Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka Observes National Wolf Awareness Week
RESPOND TO POLL AT END: Wolves are striking symbols of wild nature, yet they have long been shrouded by myth and superstition. This week is a great time to focus on facts and the contributions of wolves to society.
National Wolf Awareness Week is being observed from Oct. 16-22. While these seven days of extra attention take place each year during the third week of October, every day is cause for celebrating wolves at the Endangered Wolf Center located in Eureka.
On a national basis, the designated week is a time to dispel misconceptions about wolves and to teach about the important role these predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.
Locally, there are several immediate ways that people can observe this awareness week in meaningful ways:
- Register for one of the Wolf Howl events scheduled this month at the Endangered Wolf Center. They are interesting and educational, and are held outdoors. On lucky nights, the wolves return the calls made by humans. There also are separate Wine and Cheese events.
- Sign up for the 2011 Midnight Howl 5K Run/Walk scheduled for Nov. 11 in Ballwin because a portion of the proceeds benefit the wolf center. Register for $25 each until Oct. 24. For details about the run/walk, click here.
- Consider becoming a member at the center; it offers four levels of individual and corporate packages. It is an independent, natural preserve that does not receive state or federal funding, so individual donations are critical to the animals.
- Adopt a wolf puppy by donating a specified $75 for special diets and veterinary care. A puppy plush and 4-by-6-inch photo can be secured through the puppy appeal program.
- Volunteer for the center in a variety of capacities: docents, program assistants, library assistants, bakers and artists.
- Get vocal about protecting wolves and other endangered species by joining thematic and community activism websites and Facebook pages and by contacting elected officials about laws related to animal hunting and management.
Since the Endangered Wolf Center opened in 1971, it has been the birth place of more than 170 Mexican gray wolves. On May 1 this year, six Mexican gray wolf puppies were born at the center to the parents, Abby and Perkins. To see exclusive footage of the puppies, click here.
The center was founded by world-renowned zoologist Dr. Marlin Perkins, his wife Carol, and a group of individuals who together addressed the plight of endangered wolves. It is located on 63 isolated, wooded acres within Washington University's Tyson Research Center.
Were you aware red wolves are native only to the United States and Missouri, and once roamed the East Coast as far west as the Ohio River Valley? This is the wolf that made the St. Louis area their home. Due to a variety of reasons, the breed was nearly snuffed out not long ago.
The last 17 red wolves in natural settings were captured between 1973 to 1978, and removed from the wild to save them from extinction. Today they are still among the rarest wolves in the world, with only about 100 in the wild. The local wolf center in Eureka has been deemed the cornerstone of wolf conservation in America.
When red wolves were reintroduced into remote areas of North Carolina in 1987, the first one to give birth back in the wild was from Eureka's Endangered Wolf Center. Red wolves there already prompted cultural benefits in that sea turtles — also endangered animals — have made a comeback off the coast of North Carolina where red wolves are keeping the egg-eating raccoon population in balance.
According to a nonprofit called Defenders of Wildlife, numerous polls taken throughout the United States consistently demonstrate that more people support wolf recovery than oppose it. The group's website cites the finding of 61 percent of the general population sampled had positive attitudes toward wolves.
The center in Eureka also has Maned Wolves from South America. In addition, it includes African Wild Dogs from Central and South Africa, which weigh 37 to 80 pounds, and are regarded as one of Africa's most endangered canids. It also has swift fox, which are the smallest canids in North America, at 4 to 6 pounds.