Snow and silence were her only companions. But something made the woman look over her shoulder. She could have sworn she heard footsteps coming from somewhere in the forest, and she was right. A large shape lurked ahead and was joined by another in the horizon. She felt her heart jump as the wolves ran towards her. She could see their hot breath in the cold air.
Danielle was a Colorado gal, and she was particularly fond of dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, and dingoes. In fact, she always dreamt about meeting a wolf ever since she was little. And her love for these creatures grew as she got older. As a grownup, she intended to turn her fantasy into reality. But then these wolves revealed their true nature to her.
Danielle decided to volunteer at the Colorado Wolf And Wildlife Center. She was a bit nervous. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but she knew she wanted to run into a wolf. And this gave her the chance to fulfill her dream and give back to Mother Nature. But her first assignment wasn’t what she had in mind.
Danielle’s initial tasks at the center were less than stellar. She had to carve huge racks of raw meat with her own two hands. She also had to clean toilets too. So, this left her wondering, when on Earth was she going to get the chance to see a wolf? But she no idea that her up-close-and-personal encounter with a wolf was about to come true.
Wolves travel in packs, but even a lone wolf can provide a pressure of about 600 pounds per square inch with each bite if its big enough. That’s twice the biting strength of a Pit Bull or a German Shepherd. Wolves are smart too, and they know how to beat their prey in a hunt. And Danielle was about to figure out how cunning these wolves could be.
The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is located on the outskirts of the town of Divide. It includes a visitor center, an education amphitheater, and walking trails. The 35-acre property also contains a series of enclosures that allow wolves and wolf-hybrids to visit guests under a guide’s careful supervision. But the center itself was constructed to serve a main purpose.
Wolves are often misunderstood and the center hoped that through education, people would no longer ostracized these noble creatures. The Grey Wolf’s population had dropped significantly because of deforestation, hunting, and a lack of appreciation for these animals. But in general, wolves have been dubbed “big” and “bad,” and Danielle was determined to prove they were neither of those things.
One day, a senior staff member told Danielle that the moment she had been waiting for had arrived. Her heart pounded, and her hands shook with excitement at the prospect of meeting a wolf. The guide ushered her out the gate, away from the center, and then asked her to follow closely. But the guide never imagined that the wolves would react this way to the woman’s intrusion.
Danielle had nothing to defend herself with. All that surrounded her was snow and nothing else. In fact, it was the snow that gave the area a creepy silence. A part of her had started to wonder if this was a good idea. Then she figured she came too far to back out now. At first, all she saw was the forest and the footsteps she left behind on the white snow. And then, these huge shapes appeared in the horizon.
The wolf moved towards her cautiously, and then another wolf followed. The animals were massive. Danielle was a little scared. But her instincts told her it would be best to have a seat in the snow and wait for the wolves to come to her. Then, the female wolf stopped and started exhibiting an unusual behavior.
The female wolf, Sakara, lowered her face towards Danielle slowly and sniffed her. Then, she stuck out her big, pink tongue out and licked Danielle’s face! Then, the other wolf, named Kekoa, followed Sakara’s lead and inspected the human woman who was sitting comfortably in the snow.
The wolves were siblings that the center adopted in order to teach the community about the true nature of wolves. Michelle Smith from the center explained, “They were both adopted from a facility in Florida called Seacrest Wolf Preserve.” The idea was great in theory, but after a while, the center’s initial plan began to crumble.
“We had hoped they would be ambassadors. But sadly, like most wolves and high-content wolf dogs, once they reached maturity they became very shy and ‘retired’ at the ripe old age of two,” Michelle explained. So, the wolves are enjoying their happy lives within the confines of the vast enclosure, and they don’t have to worry about hunters. But nothing in the center’s experience could explain why the wolves reacted to Danielle this way.
Kekoa had decided to lick Danielle’s face far more thoroughly than his sister did. Then, the wolf rolled on his back. This was his way of displaying full trust and submission. Danielle was overwhelmingly touched and surprised. Then it became clear what he was looking for. He was like a big dog who wanted his belly scratched!
The staff members at the center were thrilled by the extraordinary bond that Danielle and the wolves had formed. They immediately asked her to continue working at the center and has since spent the last few years working with the wolves. Danielle developed a strong connection with Kekoa, and the two of them are like two peas in a pod.
On the center’s website, Danielle revealed, “I have always had a passion for nature and animals. These wolves have my heart and I am honored to have been accepted into their pack.” According to the website, Kekoa “loves to greet visitors with wolf kisses,” ever since he met Danielle.
Michelle explained, “since he was raised by people and bottle fed from the time he was born, he is very well socialized, meaning he enjoys the company of people.” But it’s obvious that Danielle is his favorite human. Both she and the wolf are often seen side by side at the sanctuary. And it’s obvious that he enjoys giving her tons of attention. But did the center send the message they intended all along?
“This is not the same as domesticated or tame,” Smith clarified. “He is still a ‘wild’ animal, and he does tend to show it when he is around his sister. A wolf in the wild would not act this way.” But everyone was awestruck by Danielle’s fearlessness and the wolf’s affection once the viral video reached more viewers.
The video was posted on the sanctuary’s Facebook page, and it got lots of views by thousands of people who were touched by the connection between Danielle and the wolves. Most folks can’t imagine a wolf demonstrating so much devotion towards humans. But this video gave everyone a new perspective on wolves.
Unfortunately, human ignorance is putting wolves at risk of going extinct. They are often blamed for the loss of livestock, but only 1% of those cases are caused by wolves. But that doesn’t stop people from hunting them down. They’re also depicted in movies and fairy tales as horrible creatures. But wolves have a complex social structure and always look out for one another. That’s something most humans should learn to do!