Following centuries of persecution and slaughter at the hands of humans, both Mexican Gray and Red wolves were once hunted to the point of extinction in the wild. Today, there are only a few hundred living members remaining of each species, the majority of which live in captivity.
The Wolf Conservation Center of South Salem, New York is one of several facilities committed to the species survival and recovery plan for the Mexican Gray and Red wolf populations of the U.S. Actively involved in the captive breeding and preparation for release of these critically endangered animals, the center is dedicated to educating the public about the plight of wolves and works to promote tolerance while dispelling some of the negative mythology surrounding the species.
The center’s Red and Mexican Gray Wolf populations are kept in heavily wooded and secluded enclosures with minimal human contact so as to ensure a better chance of a successful release into the wild. In an effort to educate and encourage a better understanding of wolves, WCC boasts three “Ambassador” wolves which have been raised at the center since they were young pups to be fairly comfortable around humans. Zephyr and Alawa are a young, energetic pair of bonded siblings and are great fun to observe but the center’s true pride and joy is Atka, the beautiful, 11-year old white Arctic Gray wolf who has been touring the northeast since he was quite young. Atka makes educational appearances at museums, schools and events and has become something of a celebrity in conservation circles.
With so few Red and Mexican Gray wolves remaining worldwide let alone existing in the wild, facilities such as the Wolf Conservation Center are critical to the continuation of these species. By aiding in selective breeding and release programs as well as educating people about wolves, their relationship to man and to the environment, the WCC hopes to give these rare and beautiful animals a fighting chance for survival.