Lexi was born in 2003 and spent the beginning of her young life tethered to an 8-foot-long drag chain with about 30 other wolves and wolfdogs. People paid $5 to see them at a now-defunct tourist attraction in Alaska before she was rescued. She came to Wolf Haven International in Tenino in 2014, and today she enjoys playing with her companion, London, in their spacious enclosure, where there is no need for chains.
Luca is a wolfdog with a beautiful snowy-white coat. He was born in 2011 but was rescued by members of the Department of Natural Resources in Illinois because the owner didn’t have the proper permits. Luca and 14 other wolves and wolfdogs were likely being bred for their pelts. Luca became a resident of Wolf Haven in 2015 and can be seen living a much better life on the public route, along with a female wolf born at the sanctuary.
How the variety of wolves, wolfdogs, and one coyote (Cody, who was attacked by a dog when he was a baby and almost died) came to Wolf Haven is numerous and sad. It’s a refuge for displaced wolves and those born in captivity. When they come to Wolf Haven, they are arriving at their forever home.
“The thing that stands out for me about Wolf Haven is that each animal is seen as an individual,” said Kim Young, the director of communications, who has worked there for more than nine years. “Our animal care staff is outstanding at providing individualized care for each of the 60-plus residents living here, and respecting each one as a sentient being. I’ve learned that every wolf has a distinct, unique personality, which has led me to transfer that perception to other living beings as well.”
The public is invited to schedule a guided visit and learn their stories — and learn more about wolves in the wild, and how to conserve and protect the animals and their habitats. The nonprofit started in 1982, and future plans include sanctuary upgrades, including a LEED-certified Education and Visitors Center.
“The average person will never see a wolf in the wild, and most do not see one in captivity, either,” Young said. “The wolves that reside at Wolf Haven have been born in captive environments, and have never lived in the wild. Captivity is not a normal or natural environment for these wild animals, but through no fault of their own, they have not been allowed this experience. We try to approximate the natural world as best as we can, and our visitors often remark on how tranquil and peaceful it feels to visit.”
Since the beginning, Wolf Haven has rescued and housed more than 200 animals. When you go on the guided walking tour that takes about an hour, you can see some of the wolves — with their piercing amber eyes and beautiful coats of grays, browns, and white. If you are lucky, you may even hear a chorus of howls, said Young: “There is nothing to compare to the chorus of 60 wolves howling together!”
Adopt a Wolf
There are many ways you can help support Wolf Haven International, including making a donation. There is an “Adopt a Wolf” program for school classrooms, or individuals. No, you don’t get to keep a wolf, but your donation helps support the cause, and you get a biography about the wolf you adopted, a photo, and more cool educational stuff.
When You Go
Wolf Haven International
311 Offut Lake Road S.E., Tenino
You must make a reservation for a guided tour. Go to the website to check available times and dates, or call 360.264.4695, ext. 220.
*Courtesy South Sound Magazine