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Twelve Wolves, a Chicken and a Tarantula

September 2, 2012

… went into a bar…

OK, not really. They went to the open day at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust. Or rather, the chicken and the tarantula did, along with lots of other animals, while the wolves were already there. I went there as well, because my friend Libra, who I was visiting, volunteers there, and had to work, and because wolves are awesome. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was about ten, but most of my “experience” with them was from books. I’d seen some at the zoo, but of the zoos we went to as I was growing up, only one had wolves. As an adult, I’ve been to Schönbrunn a couple of times, but their wolf enclosure is quite large (a good thing, of course) and the wolves preferred to stay well away from the fences, so if I saw them at all, it was only from far away. Quite a difference to the wolf trust, where most of the wolves are hand reared and so quite used to humans, many coming right up to the fence to be hand-fed by the keepers, even when there are hundreds of people swarming around. I’m more than a little jealous of Libra, who, by volunteering there, gets to get even closer to the wolves than that.

With Libra having to work, we had to be there before the visitors started arriving, and still had time to cuddle with a couple of huskies before it got busy. I got my face quite thoroughly licked, and I think my sweater might still be full of husky hairs…

I know, I know, that’s neither a wolf nor a chicken or a tarantula, or even a husky. It’s an eagle owl from the bird of prey show, and it was too beautiful to be left out.

I don’t even remember if it was after or before the huskies that we wandered around and came upon a chicken that had gotten out of the tiny petting zoo (now only containing a rabbit and a turtle). I suppose I should just have picked it up and put it back into the fence, but for whatever reason, I didn’t, and it continued walking around on the table, tried to flutter down and in the process, knocked down the plastic box it had been sitting on.

Luckily, almost immediately a guy came up who scolded the chicken for knocking down Felicity, and bent down to pick up the box. Curiously, wondering who Felicity might be, I came closer, but Libra stopped me with, “I don’t think you want to look at this.” It clicked then – animals, a transparent plastic box, and “you don’t want to look at this” – we had just talked about spiders and my fear of them that weekend. And a look at the other boxes on the table confirmed it – tarantulas.

I suppose it could have been more dramatic – despite her box being knocked off the table and the lid coming off, Felicity did not actually get away. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I’d been faced with a tarantula on the loose. Stand still and tremble? Run screaming? Burst into tears? Faint? But afterwards, I found it pretty funny. (And while they’re safely inside their boxes, tarantulas don’t actually bother me. I actually think they look quite… I’m not sure I want to call them pretty, but they’re definitely not ugly. But still, spiders of all shapes and sizes creep me out!)

Wolves, however, are definitely beautiful. While Libra was working, I wandered around, looking at wolves, listening to people talking about wolves (I learned a couple of interesting things, like how they catch pigeons foolish enough to fly into their enclosure, or that there’s one wolf who likes to eat dandelion roots) and trying to take pictures of wolves. The time just flew by – we were there all day, but it didn’t seem long at all!

Taking pictures was a little frustrating, because the fences kept getting in the way, but at least I got a couple where my camera actually focused on the wolf and not on the fence. Now I only hope I’ve got all the names right! I didn’t see all twelve of them – I don’t think I saw Tundra and Nuka at all (unless maybe early in the morning, before it got crowded, when I couldn’t yet tell them apart), and Torak only for a few short moments (and I was one of the lucky few who saw him at all, he is quite shy), and I can’t tell the arctic wolves apart at all (and Libra says it’s still difficult for her as well) – in any case, I saw only two of them (and there are three of them).

One of the Arctics

Another one of the Arctics

Waking up…

If not for the fence, this would be a great picture – what a beauty!

The same one as in the first picture, I think.

Mosi

Mosi, again

Mosi gets lured to the fence

Mosi, getting another piece of meat

Mosi, guarding the fence. The wolves don’t all live together, but in packs of two or three. That’s Mosi’s sister Mai on the other side of the fence, and the two don’t get along at all (they used to be in one pack, but had to be separated.)

Mai – Mosi’s sister

Motomo, Mai’s partner. He’s the trust’s only non-socialised wolf, meaning he won’t tolerate humans or even come too close to the fence. He’s extremely beautiful, though! (And again, the fence is ruining the picture.)

Tala – Mai’s and Motomo’s daughter

Lunca and Duma, the trust’s oldest ladies at 13 and 14

Duma

Duma

Lunca

Such beautiful animals… if I weren’t buried in books-I-need-to-read right now (I just bought four more yesterday), I would reread Wolfsaga yet again…

 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2012 08:18

    Beautiful pictures. Motomo is gorgeous!

  2. September 6, 2012 20:52

    You would hate New Mexico, Ivy, because we have certain parts where tarantulas migrate through (you have be careful not to run them over on the road). They are gentle tarantulas, but still. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • September 6, 2012 23:57

      One of the two main reasons I don’t want to move anywhere warmer (and don’t like travelling there much): spiders. The other is that I can’t stand heat (in that respect, the UK was really pleasant!)

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