Join Us For Tipping Point THIS THURSDAY, August 16!

Update: New Guest Speaker!

Join us at 5:30 pm this Thursday, August 16th, for a great chance to meet Gabriel Grant, CEO of Human Partners and cofounder of the Byron Fellowship Educational Foundation!

Think about the last time you tried to talk with someone about political, social, or environmental issues who didn’t already agree with you. How well did it go? You may be passionate about your cause, but ultimately success depends on your ability to communicate and inspire others. Within this short workshop, you will take on transforming one stuck conversation for yourself and learn how to create clear-cut and actionable pathways for hard conversations that effectively share what you most care about.

Gabriel Grant’s life is in service of creating a world where all life flourishes together through people experiencing their life as a calling. His work supports organizations in crafting cultures of purpose, trust, and engagement by aligning the pursuits of personal, organizational, and planetary flourishing. Over the past fifteen years, he has provided training for more than one thousand purpose-driven leaders and world-class change agents, including social entrepreneurs from more than 20 countries and sustainability directors and vice presidents from more than 150 major brands. He is the CEO of Human Partners and cofounder of the Byron Fellowship Educational Foundation and has authored several books and peer reviewed research papers on the topics of sustainability and expressing purpose in one’s life and in the workplace.

Gates open at 5:30, and the talk begins at 6 pm.  There will be time for Q&A following the presentation!  As always, nonalcoholic beverages, and beer, will be sold by People’s Brewing Company of Lafayette.

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Join us for Tipping Point September 18, 2018!

Join us at 5:30 pm Tuesday, September 18th for a great chance to meet Allyson Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition, and learn more about recycling in Indiana!

Allyson Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Indiana Recycling Coalition.

Topics include:

  • who/what/why of the IRC
  • what happens “after the blue bin” for all 4 commodities
  • the state of recycling in Indiana
  • how you can help/be involved

Gates open at 5:30, and the talk begins at 6 pm.  There will be time for Q&A following the presentation!  As always, nonalcoholic beverages, and beer, will be sold by People’s Brewing Company of Lafayette.

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Twister 2006 – 2018

Saying goodbye is always hard. On Monday, June 4, we said an unexpected goodbye to our coyote, Twister.

As a young pup, Twister and Willow were brought from a USDA facility near Logan UT, where they studied non-lethal methods of controlling coyotes’ population. They were raised as brother and sister, but each had a separate set of parents. We quickly found that coyote pups developed faster than wolf pups.  At an age when wolf pups would be struggling to raise their heads to look over the nursery barrier, the coyotes had scrambled up on top of it and were poising themselves for an exploration adventure!  They were very glad to be moved to an outdoor nursery enclosure that became their home as adults.

As the coyotes matured, we found that they closed their friendship circles to new humans.  As with wolves, their hormonal profiles changed on an annual cycle with them becoming less mellow around mid – fall. During that time, we did more training through the fence and cut back on interacting with them inside the enclosures. This was so that they had less opportunity or temptation to practice aggressive behavior toward us. With the return of spring, the coyotes resumed being cuddly, and Twister particularly liked his “me time” with Monty, or Dana, or Pat while we did “ears and cuddles.” On those occasions we put fly repellent ointment on their ears and did some training with them both for fun and behavior management. Monty did most of the cuddling, but Pat also got some requests for tummy rubs and some affectionate licking.

In the past few years a lot of our interns have been particularly interested in creating varied enrichment for the wolves. One of the favorites was a variation on “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest”, from the title of a popular vegetarian cookbook. The interns not only made an edible forest of broccoli, they populated it with small figures of people, made out of peanut butter and flour, running away from the “giant” coyotes. At other times the interns hid things inside cardboard tubes for the coyotes, made them a hanging ball out of fire hose, and decorated trees with dead mice. They also liked preparing stuffed watermelons and pumpkins and piñatas for the coyotes for Fourth of July, Halloween, and the animals’ Birthday Party.  Twister was particularly happy with the birthday piñatas. This year he managed to bag both of them!

On June 4, while making evening rounds, we found that Twister left us suddenly. His death was a complete surprise. He seemed fine that morning. When our vet examined the body, the findings were inconclusive, but the most likely causes of death were heart attack, stroke, or seizure.

It is some comfort to remember that Twister had just had a very enjoyable three-day weekend during Ken McCort’s seminar. Twister was always happy to see Ken, whom he had known since he was a pup. He really liked working with Ken, who challenged Twister engage his brain and think. They both usually finished a session with tired brains. Ken said for years that you have to be on top of your game as a trainer every second you are with coyotes – they are that smart and that fast.  Ken also noticed a behavior in Twister that he had previously only seen in birds: blazing eyes. When Twister was stimulated by training, and getting close to a threshold where he was so excited he couldn’t think, his pupils expanded and contracted in rapid alternation. This is called “blazing.” It was a sign to Ken that he needed to give Twister something to solve right away. Tom O’Dowd, our video photographer, shot footage of the seminar, Twister’s last.  Tom was also a coyote fan.  He wrote this on hearing of Twister’s death:

“I can’t properly express my sorrow about having to suddenly say farewell to Twister. My first thoughts are of how many people his life changed, all of the Wolf Parkers from Andrew and Jessica, who brought Twister and Willow home, and all the others who learned from scratch how to raise coyote pups. We had lots of wolf pup time but except for Pat and Monty, nobody had raised coyote pups. We learned not to underestimate their physical or cognitive abilities.

Those two were spectacularly challenging to predict. They had a script that we couldn’t read. As they matured, we were gifted with a fresh cornucopia of behavior, so similar to wolves in some ways, but definitely a different species. They taught us so much and I am grateful and humbled by learning what I could.

I was always happy to join Willow and Twister in their enclosure as one of the few that they welcomed. I felt a strong connection when Twister came up to share a lick or get a scratch. He seemed to appeal to me for a momentary respite from the Willowesque drama. If I felt a brotherhood from our creatures, Twister is one who also wanted that close contact.

As soon as I heard, I reflected on Twister, Ken, and me having a visit yesterday. Twister responded so strongly to Ken. He would choose Ken to hang out with anytime. He was the ideal classroom exhibit when Ken worked with him. I’m glad I had many opportunities to be present while Ken and Twister negotiated with each other over the years.

I’m quite pleased that we got great video of this character over the weekend. His lessons will stay with us both for a very long time.”

Tom’s mention of “Willowesque drama” refers to Willow’s ability to control the beginning, end, and tone of her interactions with Twister.  While she was not quite “She Who Must Be Obeyed” all the time, Willow was definitely “She Who Cannot Be Ignored!”  The coyotes competed for human interaction and attention.  This spring, Ken’s friend Chirag Patel did a seminar as well.  He came up with protocol to minimize and, we hoped, eventually eliminate the squabbles Willow started when we did morning and evening rounds. We were already seeing his training plan bear fruit.

As our wolf population aged, some of our old choristers lost their voices, but the coyotes were more than willing to join in on Howl Nights and make the earth and sky resound with their yip howls.  Twister is gone, but he will definitely never be forgotten!

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Another Walking Success!

Thank you everyone who joined us in person or in spirit for Walk for Wolves! The weather was beautiful, and the animals were fortunately active. It was an eventful day all around.

The puppies needed another year before they were ready to lead the walk, so Monty and his Leonberger led off the first lap. She enjoyed visiting all the different booths, especially the volunteer demonstrating how we prepare food for the wolves.

Our special guests included Bill Marion and his amazing Frisbee Dogs, Dawn of Promise’s Llamas talking predator deterrents, and Columbian Park Zoo with their unique assortment of creatures.

The betting for the most popular wolf contest was fierce! Despite having passed away in January, Renki still managed to win thanks to some sponsors who still love him. Ayla came in second, so she received the formal dinner. Aspen came along as her date. Interns Dariyenn and Megan did an amazing job putting together a meal for them. They certainly enjoyed their dining experience.

The bison herd is up to three calves. We auctioned off naming rights to the two newest. We’d like to introduce you now to ‘Hodor’ and ‘Mud Tumble’. We think that’s all the calves for the year, but there could always be surprises!

Hunter celebrated her birthday with a dine and dash. Happy birthday, little girl!

Did you miss the chance to get a Walk t-shirt? We’re doing another run due to their popularity. Pre-Order and we’ll ship to you as soon as they’re ready.

Upcoming Events
May 26 After Dark
June 9 Enrichment Day
June 23 After Dark
June 20 Watermelon Party

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A Very Merry Birthday

Wolf Park celebrated another anniversary, and all the animals’ birthdays! For this year’s birthday, everyone received piñatas! That was fun for everyone. The interns had fun making piñatas with the appearance of frogs, caterpillars, and elephants! The wolves had a great time ripping them apart. As seems to be the trend lately, we didn’t get very good photos of the Threebies during the event, so they received a second set of piñatas the next day. Kanti and Bicho decided they were scary the second time around. They ripped them apart in the end.

Two bison calves have arrived! The first was born just before the Birthday Party. We let the public write down name ideas and did a random drawing. We’d like to introduce you to the first calf of the year… Vanshi! Unique choice! The second calf will be named during Walk for Wolves.

Spring is here at last, after infrequent snowstorms. Monty loved getting beautiful winter photos in April. Everyone else is happy to see flowers again. The Canada geese have returned to the pond… and the puppies are making life much harder for them than the adults did. Good luck, geese!

Walk for Wolves is just days away. We are busy prepping the facility, activities and animals. We have some great special guests coming this year… There will be llamas! This is our big fundraiser for the year and we want it to be a huge success. Come out and be a part of it. If you can’t make it, donate online and help this be our best year yet!

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Gypsum’s Goodbye

Gypsum was born at a facility in Minnesota on May 6, 2013. Ten days later, he arrived at Wolf Park. Along with his sisters, Ifa and Hunter, they became the first socialized grey foxes at our facility. Even at that early age, with his eyes barely open, he was already climbing up shirts and curling up on shoulders.

He was the favored sleeping companion by almost all who assisted in raising the kits. He was an amazing snuggler. He was also a little thief, so it was important to clear out pockets before he had a chance to investigate them. This continued throughout his life. He even managed to nab a set of car keys and cache them. Over his first few months of life he had a tendency to play hard and sleep hard. It was not unusual for him to be carried, sound asleep, like a baby back into the nursery after a big day outside.

Gypsum was shy of crowds, and often displayed the typical elusive nature of grey foxes during open hours. He had a select group of humans that he loved. For those lucky few, he enjoyed licking the inside of their noses, cuddling, and receiving belly rubs. During sponsor visits and seminars, he would come out and sit on his “safe stones” and watch. Eventually he would work up enough “brave juice” to approach close enough for someone to toss him a treat.

Gypsum’s social circle was small, but his personality was mighty. The world was his to conquer. He once threatened Kanti, who was so frightened that he ran away and hid behind Bicho. Gypsum was convinced wolves were easily defeated ever after.  He absolutely loved his walks. That is often how he connected best with people he didn’t know.

He lived life to the fullest. In the fall of 2014, Gypsum tried to swallow a mouse whole and got it stuck in his insides. The wonderful team at Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital removed it. Gypsum spent several months inside recovering from his surgery. His human friends kept him entertained with toys, strange foods, and books on tape. It was during this time that he developed his signature “What’s up” move – a nod that was captured when he pushed his cone up allowed his handlers to continue to work on relationship building with him.

Even though he enjoyed both of his siblings, he was exceptionally close to Hunter. They were never far from one another. Whenever one came back from a walk, there would be instant face greeting. We put face greeting on cue with “bisou”, the French word for little kiss, as the cue signal.

On Monday, April 2, Gypsum started acting not quite right. He had been dealing with a lot over the weekend (tours, kids) and we let him sleep. On Tuesday, he didn’t get up for medication rounds. We checked on him, and he just wasn’t his perky self. He didn’t want scrambled eggs (a favorite food) and, after a physical exam, and there was a concern about his stomach being tight. We took him into the clinic for a check-up but that was inconclusive. The game plan was bland diet, fluids and re-assess over the next 24-36 hours. We kept him inside. Kimber and Dana spent a lot of time watching over him. On Tuesday night, Gypsum went downhill and was in a lot of pain. We took him back to the clinic Wednesday morning, and the decision was made to do exploratory surgery. There was an odd mass that had started leaking fluids and his internal organs weren’t healthy at all. The only humane choice was to say good-bye. Even though he had a small social circle, Gypsum had a mighty personality and will be greatly missed.


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It Might Be Spring

 “March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb”, goes the old saying. But in the mid-west, it’s hard to know what the weather will do day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour. We’ve seen it all this spring – from flowers to snow showers. The wolves tell us they’d be happy if it stayed below freezing forever and always, but the rest of us would like to know if we can put away the shovels yet.

Spring means the wolves are calming down after the intensity of breeding season. This means we can resume letting Timber have play dates with the boys. We think she was happy to see Wotan.

The Easter Party occurred the week before Easter. Despite intense winds and threatening snow, visitors still came out to hunt for eggs and hide treats for the wolves. The pups had their first Easter, and definitely enjoyed the search. This holiday really belongs to the foxes, though. They LOVE eggs.

The weather warmed up for a few days after that. And then along came Easter Sunday. It snowed four inches. April Fools?

The weather is appreciated by wolves and photographers, of course. It’s hard to convince staff photographer, Monty Sloan, to leave the enclosure so the rest of us can warm up. Spring photo shoots are in full swing. Mostly they go well. And then there are the other times when the puppies steal someone’s hat.

Not a behavior we want to encourage, but they looked very cute destroying it.

Admittedly, Khewa looks cute forever and always.

Upcoming Events
April 20 – Wolf Park Day – Open 1-4pm
April 20 – Cookout Howl Night – 6 – 9:00pm
April 21 – Animals’ Birthday Party
May 5 – Walk for Wolves!

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Gnome Gnews is Good Gnews

It began with a casual remark from Monty, our resident space alien: “It must have been eaten by gnomes.”

The Wolf Park staff had been discussing how to stop losing the clips we use to fasten gate latches, which had taken to disappearing.  Of course we can replace them, but some latches do best with clips of a size that isn’t available locally anymore.  This is a relatively trivial problem, like sand in your socks, but with time and frequent repetition (a phenomenon referred to by behaviorists as stimulus stacking), minor irritations may cease to seem trivial (and more like cockleburs in your socks).

Until that casual comment during a staff meeting, I had thought it likely that some of our clips had simply reached their time of pupation and had changed into something that doesn’t resemble their previous form, much as safety pins pupate and turn into wire coat hangers.  (Back in the last century, my high school science teacher explained the curious and exasperating life cycle of safety pins and wire coat hangers.  Safety pins are a larval form of the wire coat hanger.   When you go through a period where you can’t lay your hand on a safety pin anywhere, but the amount of wire coat hangers in your closet has burgeoned out of all proportion to how many garments are in need of hanging, a pupation season has just ended.)

But perhaps Monty was right, and gnomes were afoot, or around, or possibly ajar.  Were gnomes indeed stealing our gate clips?  How could one tell?  My knowledge of gnomes comes primarily from the invaluable works of Messrs. Poortvliet and Froud.  It didn’t seem likely the gnomes studied by Mr. Poortvliet would eat metal double ended snaps or boat clips.  Those gnomes seem a lot like us, only gnicer.  They don’t seem to intend animals, or us, any harm.  However, appearances can be deceiving.  For example, squirrels will eat, or at least gnaw, car wiring, which is gnot something you would expect of them.  (If you see a squirrel standing up on its hind legs under your car, beware!  It may look like a little furry mechanic, but it isn’t.)

Less is understood about the gnomes in Mr. Froud’s books, but they seem to be a more sinister species (or subspecies) than the ones described by Poortvliet.  However, gno mention is made of this kind of gnome, either, consuming or hoarding fencing equipment.

Perhaps we had been missing something that was hiding, as it were, in plain sight.  Gnoticing that our resident space alien uses human artifacts in ways they were gnot intended, such as making crop circles in cakes, I have been looking for other things that seem a little off, having a certain something that makes them, despite appearances, gnothing like gnormal.

Take, for instance, burdocks and cockleburs, aka “Gnature’s Velcro.”  Every year, to the exasperation of both species, we humans find these in our wolves’ fur.  They make unattractive mats in the wolves’ fur, exasperating our photographer.  Sometimes the wolves act as if the burrs feel irksome, and we agree with them when we remove them from the wolves’ fur.  (Gnote: the wolves stay much happier if you pull the fur away from the burr, rather than the other way around.)

Wolves can pick up burrs directly from the burr bushes, but burrs can also be placed on their fur deliberately.  Over the years we have occasionally stuck burrs on wolves to distract them from certain behaviors and divert them to grooming themselves instead.  (We don’t put them in places where they will be hard to reach or painful.) But our wolves get burrs even when we aren’t around, so it’s possible that some of those burrs were put on our wolves deliberately by…some other force.  Why might gnomes want to stick burrs on wolves?  If you search the internet, you can find videos of humans enjoying bounce sports in combination with a Velcro wall.  They jump at the wall from a trampoline or “bounce house” floor, and stick to the wall.  Are some of the burrs in the wolves’ fur from gnomes daring each other to jump at the wolves, stick to them, and ride around?  While I can easily imagine adolescent gnomes daring each other to stick to, and ride, wolves, this doesn’t make it so.

Also, if you search L-Space, you can find literature describing, or accusing, elves of riding horses at night, leaving the horses tired and sweaty by morning.  They also are said to braid amazing knots into horses’ manes to hold on by, and possibly for decoration.  Once again, there are other ways horses’ manes can get knotted.  Some horses’ manes tend to twine into strings when they have been left ungroomed for a while.  Add to this a horse that tosses its mane when restless, or bothered by flies, and the horse itself can create amazing (and frustrating) macrame in its mane – sections sporting three-strand braids, while other sections look like some scouts went wild trying for a knotting badge!  These knots and braids look as if they were made by dexterous fingers – and maybe some of them were.  But knot by human hands!

Agnother possible clue, or then again, maybe gnot:  We have noticed that this year Timber seems calmer.  She can still be very very very bouncy, but she just doesn’t do it as often.  Our first thoughts were that she is maturing.  This may be a contributing factor, but maturity does not always curb excited effervescence in animals.  My first horse had a lot of energy into his teens and early 20’s.  If I had been able to do about 18 miles of trail riding on the Flying Red Horse during Saturday and Sunday, he was quite cheerful and ready to go on Monday, but also calm and biddable.  If Timber were giving rides to gnomes (or elves) in the evenings after the Park has closed, it might explain her more peaceable gnature in the mornings.

Is Timber calmer this spring because she is giving gnomes rides when gno humans are around to see?  Are gnomes absconding with our gate clips?  I wish I gnew.  More observations are gnecessary.  If any of our Gentle Readers have any observations to contribute, please contact us.  Gno man is an island.  The Truth Is Out There….

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February Holiday Season

The wolves had an unplanned observance of Fat Tuesday when a farmer donated an 800lb cow. Normally we don’t take animals of that size since we can’t store something so huge and the wolves don’t eat it fast enough, but it’s winter so we can leave the meat out longer, and we’re lower on deer than we’d like to be.

The boys and their massive meal. Photo by Karen Davis

We distributed the legs and head to various groups, and then let the boy pups have first go at the torso. The boy and girl pups are currently separated for the breeding season, so the girls had a leg to themselves and a front-row seat to watching the boys figure out how to handle the biggest carcass they’d ever encountered.

The boys were a little frightened of this mountain of flesh. They did a lot of circling and cautious poking before realizing, “it’s made of meat!”. The cow had also arrived with some straw and manure attached. The boys alternated between rolling in the straw, and eating off the carcass.

Niko practices ripping and tearing. Photo by Karen Davis

By evening, we had an assortment of very round wolves sleeping off a heavy meal.

Khewa nibbles a hoof. Photo by Karen Davis


Valentine’s Day…?

Valentine’s Day falls during the animals’ breeding season, so some years romance is in the air. This was not one of those. The girl pups spent the season separated from their brothers, because we want our girls to be grown-ups before they consider children and begin dating non-related wolves. Timber also sat the breeding season out, despite flirting a lot through the fence with Wotan and Wolfgang. Fiona continues to tell the boys that they are icky, and Ayla tells us she is too old for such games. No puppies this year, and we’re glad to continue giving the 2017 pups lots of attention as they head into their second year of life.

Joker attending Scarlette. Photo by Christopher Lile.

Over in the fox den, Scarlette and Joker coupled-up for one whole day. Joker was cute, attentive, and irritating for several days during the stretch in which he wanted Scarlette all to himself, and she really wanted to play with her human visitors. She spent a lot of time sleeping in huts, and whining if he got too close. They are now back to their old married couple routine, and the happier for it.

Silly-Faced Joker. Photo by Christopher Lile.

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Coastal Wolves of Vancouver Island

Photo by Ian McAllister

by London Wolff

Vancouver Island, north of Seattle, is homes to a very special population of gray wolves known as Coastal Wolves. They differ from the Timber and Arctic wolves in that they are about 20% smaller on average, are usually a little redder in color, live near water in the pacific northwest and, instead of hunting ungulates in packs, they hunt sea life. During the fall, a large portion of their diet consists of salmon which swims upstream from the ocean to spawn. Other parts of the year, when salmon are not as plentiful, the wolves can be seen swimming out to feast on herring eggs, digging up clams, and hunting crab. They have even been known to eat whales which have washed up on shore.

These wolves have adapted to live in a place where one of the last temperate rainforests meets the ocean. They often must transverse from small island to small island. They have been known to swim seven and a half miles between land masses.

Utilizing this niche over time has led to behavioral differences, as well as morphological and genetic changes.  These wolves have been found to be genetically distinct from their Canadian interior counterparts.

Photo by Ian McAllister

Due to human intervention, these wolves were gone from Vancouver Island in the 1960s, but then repopulated the area from populations living in the Great Bear Rainforest. If we want to keep this population thriving for decades to come, we must make a conscious effort to do so.

Last month the B.C. government put forth a proposal to increase the trapping season on Vancouver Island by two months. The trapping season is currently eight months long. They are trying to lengthen it to ten. The government proposal is less than one-page, and does not include a single piece of scientific evidence. The explanation for their decision is only two paragraphs long. In it they explain they came to there conclusion based on the anecdotal evidence of “public sightings and observations”. Trappers and hunters reported increased wolf sightings correlating with a decrease in deer sightings. Nothing is mentioned regarding deer carcass found with signs of wolves or wolf killings sighted. As previously mentioned, the wolves on Vancouver Island are significant because of their unique trait of procuring 90% of their diet from the sea.

It is estimated that there are around 250 wolves on Vancouver Island that this edict could effect. However, the government has not done any comprehensive survey work since 1994. The reasoning given for this oversight is that monitoring wolves is “costly and difficult”, especially considering its “low conservation concern status”. Unlike in the United States, the gray wolf is listed as least concern throughout the entire country of Canada which can make it hard to persuade the government to take an interest in protecting these animals.

To learn more and make your voice heard, sign and share the Save BC Wolves Petition.

Photo by Ian McAllister

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