Now that the apple picking season and Halloween festivities are just about over, it’s time to start finding some other seasonal activities for our apple families. I don’t know about you, but I am no where near ready to head indoors. In our search for fall and winter outdoor activities, we visited the NY Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem to spend a morning with the wolves. That’s right, wolves! Different from their local relatives, the coyote, fox and dog, wolves are not native to NY so this was a special treat. The wolf center is currently home to 26 wolves including their famous four ambassador wolves- Atka, Alawa, Zephyr and Nikai.
Many of their wolves are endangered so the Wolf Conservation Center is dedicated to promoting wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States. Unlike the ambassador wolves, the goal for their critically endangered wolves is to hopefully be reintroduced to the wild.
So, why is the WCC a good place to visit now? The wolves love the cool weather and that’s when they can be found most active. To boot, the WCC has recently added more children’s programs to their calendar. My family and I attended the “Pack Chat for Kids” program. It was held at 11AM on a chilly Saturday morning. The wolf center sits perched high on a hill in a residential area of South Salem. The modest education building was the first stop where the learning began and we were happy to find it heated.
Here our guide, Reagan, taught us all about the center and the wolves they are home to. This portion lasted about 30 minutes and was fairly interactive for the kids. My 3 year old probably didn’t get quite as much out of this as his 6 year old sister, but I was just pleased he sat for the duration. After the indoor portion we headed out to meet the wolves. My kids got a real kick out of how we were all instructed to howl to let the wolves know we were coming. What they liked better was when the wolves, led by their Alpha, howled back. In our first stop we met the majority of the ambassador wolves- the Canadian and Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves. Here the Alpha dynamic was demonstrated at a feeding session- a sight to behold.
Next onto the Wild Arctic Gray Wolf Ambassador, and the ultimate Alpha of the center, “Atka.” And finally to the critically endangered Mexican Gray wolves and the Red Wolves. Each area we visited provided a place for sitting and viewing the wolves safely behind a high fence. Our guide told us more about each of the type of wolf and answered any questions we had.
Lastly, we returned to the Education building to, of course, buy souvenirs. Normally, I am the mean Mom who runs from a souvenir shop. However, the souvenir shop was modest here and it’s one of the ways the Wolf Center receives funding. After meeting the wolves, they quickly make their way into your heart so it was an easy purchase to justify. The center is actually run largely by donation. In fact,the center is only 1% government funded. They have more volunteers than employees, they feed the wolves roadkill or food donated from the local Whole Foods, even their veterinary services are pro-bono. Yes, I was more than happy to help in any small way I can.
So, is a visit to the Wolf Center for you? I think it’s for everybody. The Wolf Center has a variety of programs available for both adults and children throughout the week. See the full calendar here. It include everything from “Story time with the Wolves” for preschool aged children to the “Evening Howl for Adults” which includes wine and cheese! The center operates mainly on donations and your entrance supports their mission. So why not go for an educational outdoor family day that supports this worthy cause? This Apple Mom recommends the “”Pack Chat for Kids” for your elementary aged children. Younger children will benefit too, but should be able to sit for a good 30 minutes and understand that the wolves are not dogs. If you go, bring your camera and dress warmly in layers.
In fact, one lucky Apple Moms HV Reader will win a Family Four Pack of ticket the the “Pack Chat for Kids” at a date of their choosing. Please refer to the calendar for available dates.
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Disclosure: I was invited to visit the NY Wolf Center as Press, no other compensation was received. As always, all opinions are my own and 100% honest.