Kailani, 2004 – 2016

kailaniprofile Kailani has left us.  The little puppy whose name meant “sea and sky” in Hawaiian grew up into a beautiful silver wolf.  She was the alpha female of the main pack for many years and retired during the winter of 2011-2012.  In retirement she was reunited with Tristan, whom she adored, and often her brother Renki, whom she tolerated.

Her loss was not unexpected, but we hoped it would not be so soon. This fall a mass or lump in her abdominal cavity led Dr. Becker to recommend exploratory surgery in October, after x-rays were inconclusive.  Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the lump was cancer, and there were many small nodules throughout Kailani’s mesenteries.  Her condition was inoperable and we put her in hospice care, monitoring her closely, tweaking pain medications as needed, and trying to keep her eating.  Though she lost weight during the fall she would eat, though sometimes only small amounts of favorite foods.  Whatever she wanted to eat, she got.  Medication could perk up her appetite and we also found that Renki was an effective appetite stimulant.  She’d eat food to keep it away from him.

Kailani still had spunk enough to threaten Ayla and Timber through the fence on the day before Thanksgiving, though otherwise she seemed tired and only ate a small amount of kielbasa. On Thanksgiving she started having moderately labored breathing. She was not agitated, but her resting respiration rate was elevated.  Dr. Becker came out in the evening and we sedated Kailani for further examination.  Dr. Becker warned us that even sedating her to draw off fluid from the body cavity to ease her breathing, was risky.  As Dr. Becker feared, complications arose when Kailani was anesthetized.  We took this as a sign that we were pretty much at the end of what we could do to keep her comfortable.  Dr. Becker did not think she was in pain, but very close to the end of her good time, so we said our good byes and Dr. Becker gave her the last mercy.

Of the many stories we tell about Kailani, one that comes to mind is an occasion in which she rolled on her back to demand a tummy rub and, in that posture, glared at Renki upside down.  He refused to walk past her – her threat stare was that good – and she was guarding a steak from him.  She was a beautiful, sometimes challenging, wolf who loved tummy rubs from good friends, and was eager to go out for walks. She will be remembered as a mighty huntress from the days when we did wolf-bison demonstrations, and wielder of an extremely powerful Death Stare.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Wolf Park! We are thankful this year for the continued healthy recovery of cancer survivor Renki, the amazing donations we’ve received toward the building of a recovery pen and improved fox enclosure; the arrival of new resident Timber, and the wonderful support we’ve received from our community, both locally and abroad. Thank you all and Happy Thanksgiving!


Wolfgang guarding Timber. Photo by Dana Drenzek

Three’s a Crowd
Wolfgang and Wotan have had two joint play dates with Timber. Three is a crowd when it comes to dating, and Wotan and Wolfgang are having trouble remembering their brotherly bond when a woman gets between them. The brothers spend these dates flagging their tails and growling at one another, while Timber provokes both by riding on their backs, flirting, and being a generally obnoxious two year old. The brothers try and guard Timber from one another, but she won’t hold still long enough to be guarded. Timber is a busy bee who would rather be exploring or playing than sitting quietly while the boys debate who gets the girl. Fortunately, because she is so lively, neither boy really wants her for very long, and they’re both happy to take a break and let the other brother deal with miss young and exuberant.

Timber also continues to have the occasional play date with Renki. Although she’ll bounce all over Wotan and Wolfgang, she is much more careful not to knock Renki around too much. He seems to like visiting her in small doses.

Timber will not be able to live with the brothers full-time because she is young, they are old, and she would break them. We are glad to give her many play date opportunities with them. Maybe it’ll lead to something special come breeding season…

Giving Tuesday
Taking care of the residents of Wolf Park and improving the facility takes time, effort and funds. Join us for Giving Tuesday to help provide care for the animals this winter season. Donations will be channeled toward feeding the animals, providing their vaccinations and improving enclosures.givingtuesdayposter


What’s Happening Elsewhere?
Here’s some cool information about Urban Coyotes.

A prat-falling fox won this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Competition. Check out some hilarious photos here.


Coming Events at Wolf Park
11/26 Turkey Toss. Help the wolves celebrate Thanksgiving by tossing them their turkey dinners. Delivery begins at 2pm.
12/1 Closed Season Begins. Wolf Park will be open Saturday evenings for Howl Nights and one Saturday afternoon a month until April. Check out our Calendar of Events for our open days.
12/17 Santa visits! Celebrate the holidays at Wolf Park. Help decorate Christmas Trees for the wolves, meet Santa and enjoy the chilly season. Open 1-4. Present delivery begins at 1:30.

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Animal Updates


Photo by Ryan Talbot

Renki Update
Renki is doing great! He and Ayla enjoyed a day in the big main enclosure last week and Renki seemed delighted to have room to really stretch his legs. A missing limb isn’t slowing him down at all!

Due to a full memory card on the camera, Renki didn’t get his picture taken during the pumpkin party, so he was forced to eat a second treat-filled pumpkin for photographic purposes. It was a trial Renki seemed fairly willing to undergo. He was very good at rolling the pumpkin and dumping out the treats that way. Once he’d finished the treats, Ayla destroyed the pumpkin.


Photo by Ryan Talbot

Scarlette Update
Scarlette the red fox has bounced back to normal. Her tests are all fine and the vet thinks she just had a soft tissue injury which was causing us concern. She isn’t thrilled with her fall fashion line. Right now we’re trying out doggy sweaters. She’s very good at taking them off. We’ll find a way to keep her belly warm until the fur grows back. Fortunately, our unseasonably warm fall is giving her time to fluff out once again.



Holiday Shopping
We’ve added several dozen new items to the online store. These include Christmas ornaments, winter scarves and the limited ‘Renki Spirit’ t-shirts. The holiday season is coming soon. Do your shopping with us!




Photo by Dana Drenzek

Some Shout Out Thanks!
We’re not sure who decided to mail Kailani blankets, but she’s grateful. It took her a couple days to use them but now we often find her stretched out on the lawn blanket. Thank you to the mysterious sponsor who gave our elderly wolf some comfort!

Thanks also to Kenny and Joel who came out for a full day of winterizing the park! We’re grateful for all the work they, and other volunteers, do for us throughout the year.

Thanks to everyone who voted for our scarecrow in the Prophetstown State Park Trail of Scarecrows. We took fourth place, our best ranking so far! We can’t wait for next year to see if our intrepid intern designers can rise to the challenge and build a winning wolf-crow.

What’s Happening Elsewhere?
Check out the Yellowstone Wolf Genealogy Project on Kickstarter! Once it’s up, you’ll be able to track the genealogies of the Yellowstone wolves and learn about the as individuals. It’s a great project for understanding what’s happening out west. Check it out!

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Fall Updates from Wolf Park

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Scarlette the red fox has been off her feed the past couple of weeks. She’s lively, she’s cheerfully squabbling with Joker, but she buries food instead of eating it. With a fox who usually gobbles everything in sight, this is cause for concern. It’s easy to tell who is eating the treats she buries as well since Joker is currently weighing in at nineteen and a half pounds.

Although it may be nothing, we didn’t want to take chances so Scarlette was taken to the vet for an ultrasound. Everything turned up normal on the tests. Unfortunately, the ultrasound meant our little fox had to have her belly shaved.

The fur should grow back quickly, but until then, Scarlette has become a fashion model. She’s been accommodating thus far regarding her new wardrobe. We hope the fluff will grow back before winter arrives, but if not, some of the volunteers are considering knitting her sweaters.

kantipumpkinIt’s the Great Pumpkin, Wolf Park!
The annual Pumpkin Party was a huge success from animal and human perspective alike. Kids helped stuff and deliver pumpkins to the waiting crowd of animals. Kanti, Bicho and Fiona played ‘swap the pumpkin’ for a very long time. Timber was a little nervous about the crowd. She grabbed her pumpkin away from the fence and carried it to a Safe Distance before consuming the treats. Kailani hasn’t been interested in treats lately so we filled hers with fresh beef. We aim to please. Of the bison, only Junior, the bull, showed up to eat so he consumed three pumpkins worth of apples and sweet feed. The weather was excellent and wonderfully warm for this time of year – some of the visitors even enjoyed popsicles after the festivities concluded.

Thanks to Brian Venghous for donating the pumpkins!

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What’s an Alpha?
If you watch television, you hear terms like ‘Alpha Male’ being thrown around in relation to humans with big egos or confident demeanor. Journalist Bethy Squires came by Wolf Park recently to discuss the meaning behind various terms and how they actually apply to science, not just how they are used (incorrectly) in our culture. Check out her article here.

2017 Calendars are Here!
The 2017 calendars have arrived! Enjoy twelve months with the animals of Wolf Park. Order yours today on our Online Store!


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Bringing up Bison


Wolf Park would like to welcome our newest additions. As visitors may have noticed, our bison herd has dwindled this past summer as we prepared to bring in new arrivals from another facility. We want to keep our herd healthy and part of doing so means the arrival of fresh cows in the group.

These one and three-year-old cows came to us from Van Meter Buffalo Ranch. The older one may be carrying a calf, which will mean additional new blood in the spring. They are currently getting to know the rest of the herd through the fence. Once everyone seems comfortable, introductions will begin and we’ll have a growing herd of bison once more.

Originally bison were brought to Wolf Park as representatives of other North American species during the early days of the park when we thought we’d grow past our wolf origins to encompass more species. They remained as part of our wolf and bison predator/prey study, in which we allowed the public to see how little large, healthy animals have to fear from wolves. Since the conclusion of the demonstrations, the bison have moved into a new role as trainees of a unique species for our seminars and intern programs. Trainers have begun working with the bison to teach them targeting and luring. The trainers have dreams of moving on to shape recognition and other behaviors. The bison are happy to join the training sessions, if it means apples and sweet feed.

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Straw Wolves and Wildflowers

Autumn is arriving in Indiana. The leaves are beginning to turn colors, the wolves are growing their winter coats, and the annual Trail of Scarecrows is making its appearance in Prophetstown State Park. Every year, Prophetstown invites non-profits and clubs to construct scarecrows to be displayed around the park. This is Wolf Park’s fourth entry and our pack of straw wolves is growing.


“Twiggy”, our howling wolf from last year has made a second appearance in the park and is now joined by a new packmate. Volunteer Kelly Praiswater and intern Khaz Brooks can take the main credit for our straw pack, with assistance from interns James and Brenden. Also in our display this year is a lovely collection of painted puppy pumpkins.

Visitors to Prophetstown can vote for their favorite scarecrows via penny donations in the Prophetstown Nature Center. The donations will go toward supporting education, arts, and history programs at the State Park. If you’re coming to Wolf Park, consider also visiting the state park to hike their trails, visit the farm and see the army of the scarecrows decorating the area.

Even with the cooling temperatures, flowers can still be found around Wolf Park. Our reclaimed farm field, which will eventually grow into bat and quail habitat, is in bloom with a gorgeous assortment of wildflowers. Park manager, Dana, took the time to explore the field and photograph some fantastic blooms. We’re proud to be providing assistance to butterfly and bee populations in Indiana.

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Picassos with Paws

Once a year we break out the animal-safe paint and let the park residents try their paws at art. What started as a chance for just the wolves explore their artistic sides has now blossomed into every species getting a chance to play along. Some actively enjoy painting, some just like trailing for treats. Whatever their interest, it’s enriching for both species and leads to some lovely pictures.

Renki had a hard time this year. Usually he enjoys painting but he moves in awkward lunges now and it was hard for him to balance on the paper. He ended up lying in the paint, which didn’t do much for his artistry, but it led to a colorful wolf.

This was Timber’s first experience with paint and she loved it. She’s two, she’s bouncy, and every new thing needs to be rolled in and explored. She turned herself very green and orange. Fortunately, she jumped into a splash tank as soon as she finished painting so she wasn’t too badly stained.

The coyotes, on the other paw, are currently a mess. Twister and Monty the staff photographer made a game out of it and Twister is now very purple.

Intern Khaz had ideas about how bison could nose paint, so we drove out in the field armed with touch sticks, sweet feed and food coloring. The bison provided us with a variety of nose prints of their own. Khaz informs us that nose prints in cattle are as distinctive as human fingerprints and are used by farmers as a way of identifying cows.

Not everyone wanted to paint (Fiona ate a painting instead of stepping on it) but everyone had the chance. It’s something novel and different which enriches their lives and ours. The paintings will be up for auction during Walk for Wolves. We might even try a few online if there is interest out on the internet.

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Fox Meets Frisbee


Scarlette on a kiddy car. Photo by Aoife Smeaton

Entertaining the park animals is important to their emotional well-being. Bored animals are stressed animals. We do our best to provide novel experiences for all our residents on a regular basis. This is especially true for the foxes who, if not given things to do, will find things to do.

How to entertain a fox? The grey foxes are big fans of scavenger hunts. We let our summer camp participants hide their daily food allowances all over the enclosure. Hunter is particularly good at hunting for eggs. Gypsum is particularly good at stealing eggs from her. They both enjoy hunting crickets in their sandbox.

The red foxes are fans of the trampoline. When we let them play with it, they’ll bounce and pounce on it for minutes at a time. That’s a long time for a fox! They also enjoy fresh-cut pine branches. They’ll sneak attack each other from within the branches, or hide beneath the rustling pile.


Scarlette on the trampoline. Photo by Scott Allaire

Our interns are always on the lookout for things foxes can explore. They’ve provided them with little tyke climbing toys, phone books, piñatas, egg crates, scents, plush toys and much more. We switch out objects in the enclosure regularly to keep things from becoming commonplace.

Joker has been very interested in throwing and chasing things lately so fox curator, Kimber, provided him with a Frisbee. Scarlette didn’t understand his fascination with the new toy, but that didn’t stop Joker from having a ball!

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Wolf Park Featured in ABA’s “Best of the Best 2016” Travel Directory

PrintDestinations, the official magazine of the American Bus Association, picked 57 “super places to visit” all across America for their first “Best of the Best” awards in their September/October 2016 issue , and Wolf Park was selected as “the best place to have a howling good time”!

According to the issue, which is readable online here, “The ‘Best of the Best’ honors top destinations and events in the U.S. and Canada across a range of tour and travel categories.  Winners are selected…based on quantitative and qualitative evaluation of nominations.”

Wolf Park is excited to be named as a great place to visit!

Have you had a great time at Wolf Park?  Don’t forget to write up a review!  You can do so on Google, Tripadvisor, and GreatNonProfits.org!


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Presenting: Walk for Wolves 2016 T-Shirt!


Check out the design for this year’s Walk for Wolves t-shirt. Want one? Register your pack before September 19th to receive one. They’ll be for sale on the day of the walk as well. $2.00 of every shirt sold will go toward Tippecanoe County Cancer Association.

We’ve already received over $1,500 in individual donations and $5,000 in corporate donations. That’s great but we’ve still got a long way to go to reach our $15,000 goal! There is still plenty of time for packs to sign up and begin raising donations. The pack currently in the lead is the Grey Haven Pack. Sign up or donate today!

Some great organizations will be attending to educate and entertain. These include Animalia, Indiana Coyote Rescue and Imagination Station. We’re excited to see what they will do. We still have spaces available for other organizations to attend. We are also looking for local bands and performance artists who would like to perform. Do you know of anyone who would like the publicity? Let us know!

In wolf news…… Renki hippity hopped his way back to East Lake this past week. He seems very happy to be close to the other wolves. At the time of this writing, his operation site is almost completely covered in fur again, though it is only short fuzz so far. The rest of his coat is quite handsome. He has had two play dates with Ayla and with a completely thrilled Timber. He is very pleased to receive visitors and also scratches where it is hard for him to reach.


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