Saturday Morning, July 18
This is has been in our neighborhood for a long time, but only become a tourist attraction and sanctuary in the past nine years.
We have been wanting to take this tour, and this seemed like the time to do it.
When I grew up, we knew this as the Darlington farm.
From the internet: For over 30 years the Darlington Family has offered refuge to wolves who have found themselves without a place in the natural world. Originally created as a private rescue, the Wolf Sanctuary of PA has grown into an educational facility.
If you are interested in the history of the Darlington farm click on this link. I was interested to learn that this was originally owned by the Coleman’s of Lebanon.
The old barn.
Each person received a sticker to prove that they had paid their entrance fee.
During the week you have to make reservations for a tour, but if you stop in at 10:00 AM on a Saturday or Sunday, you can be included in a tour. Each guide has about 30 people in his/her group.
During the tourist season there are usually more than 100 people who come at 10:00 AM each day for the weekend tours. There were definitely more than 100 on the day we were there.
The tour guide ahead of us did something to get the wolves to howl.
These two are full-blooded timber wolves. They are a father and son, and are still in mourning for the female (sister to the son) who had recently died.
When a wolf dies, it is left in the pen for about an hour so the pack can mourn. It is not unusual for them to eat very little or nothing for the next week.
The guides use left over food from a local restaurant.
The owners appreciate road kill deer or dead cows or sheep from local farmers. They do not accept pork because it does not work well with a wolf’s digestive system.
They have a large walk-in freezer where meat is kept until it is needed.
We were surprised to see this turtle as we walked to the next pack. The guide doesn’t remember ever seeing it before.
Each pack has an alpha male or female (sometimes both), and if the guides feeds a lower ranking wolf first, a fight will break out.
The young woman is a guide in training. All guides are volunteers.
She told an interesting story about a ranger and a wolf in Alaska who had befriended each other. When the ranger was moved to a new station about 25 miles away, the wolf followed him, and even brought a pair of shoes he left behind.
This is the largest pack on the property.
Each pack has plenty of space in this wooded area. The wolves in this pack were not particularly hungry because they had recently been given a sheep carcass.
There is a double eight foot fence around each pack. Only the guide goes through the gate and stands next to the inside fence.
I was surprised at how intently Ian, Jared, and Jesse listened to the guide, as the tour lasted almost two hours.
The guide told us to come back in late winter or early spring to see the wolves in their winter dress, as they were shedding and looked rather mangy right now.
This one is blind.
The last four wolves were recent additions to the sanctuary.
Many wolves they receive come from people who tried to raise them as pets – which almost never works.
All wolves are neutered or spayed so additional wolves are not born in captivity. There are always wolves on the waiting list to come to this sanctuary.
There is a lot of paperwork that needs to be done before they can cross state lines.
After this most interesting tour, our Cousin’s Week 2015 came to an end.
It was an incredibly good week.