Cienega pack

Mexican wolf pups

Mexican wolf pups

The first pack of Mexican gray wolves that were transferred from Wolf Haven for release into the wild was the Hawk’s Nest pack, in 1998. Two year’s later, on March 12, 2000, a second group of endangered Mexican wolves, the Cienega pack, left Wolf Haven for Seattle, WA, and then flown to AZ. Once there,  the pack was transported to the heart of the Apache National Forest.

The group was placed in a soft wire mesh acclimation pen in the hopes that they would spend some time acclimating and subsequently localizing in the area once released. However, the pack had other ideas. Within 45 minutes, they chewed through the mesh and all but one male pup (m620) self –released and left the pen. By March 14th, the pup ventured from the pen and reunited with his family and together, they roamed the wilds of their new home.

A Book Review of "Part Wild" by Ceiridwen Terrill

Part Wild is the real life story of Ceiridwen Terrill and her part wild wolf dog named Inyo.  Terrill tells a deeply honest truth about living with an animal that is neither wild nor tame.  Her need for safety and protection drove her to seek out a wolf dog but the result was that she spent her time saving and protecting Inyo. Terrill shares their, all too common, story with amazing detail that honors the life of this extraordinary wolfdog.

Ceiridwen Terrill is an environmental journalist and science writer which is apparent throughout the book.  She incorporates scientific facts about wolves, dogs and wolf dogs.  She breaks apart myths that even she believed until her experiences with Inyo.  She not only tells us that wolves and dogs are different from a scientific perspective, but shows us how through her personal experiences. This makes Part Wild unique in that it is grounded in fact and experience thus making it an enjoyable and educational read.
This book is important for anyone with an interest in wolves, dogs and wolf dogs to read.  It is especially important for those who think that wolf dog ownership is a good idea.  While a few people claim to have had positive experiences raising wolf dogs this book makes it clear that those experiences are extremely rare.  This book proves that even the most well intentioned people that are willing to turn their lives upside down, including living on the verge of homelessness as Terrill did, may not be able to save the life of those caught in between worlds.     Read more about Part Wild.


Mexican wolf brothers M1066 (left) and M1135 (right)

Mexican wolf brothers M1066 (left) and M1135 (right)

Today while doing the walk through I observed some posturing between our 3 sibling male Mexican gray wolves. The brothers, who are housed together, were born here at Wolf Haven (2 were born in 2007 and the other in 2008) . While the boys lived with their parents and female siblings for several years, they have been living alone as bachelors since 2010.

Fortunately they had the benefit of being parent reared and as such, learned appropriate behavior. We would often observe (via remote camera) the parents chastising the pups when they got out of line and because they were a multigenerational group, they had lots of siblings (8) to not only play with, but to practice ritualized fighting with as well, subsequently developing good social skills.

Even though the parents are the ones in charge, there is a linear hierarchy that exists within the group that is not only age graded, but sex graded as well- meaning that the males and females work out their own chain of command and rarely do dominance disputes cross gender lines. Very early on the 3 boys established a hierarchy among themselves and it has remained pretty stable up until recently. Even when they moved into their own enclosure, away from their sire, the male who had been in charge (M1066) retained the dominant role. However, the youngest of the 3, M1135 has started to test the waters this season and it appears that there may be a shift in dynamics.  This is not uncommon, particularly in a disrupted pack. For although the alpha pair’s (or parents’) leadership will stay stable, the rest of the group’s dynamics are in flux. Things like dispersal, injury, or attrition can lead to an opportunity for a lower ranking animal to move up in status. In the case of captive wolves, something as seemingly benign as a move from one enclosure to another can prompt a shift.

So far, our 3 bachelors have lived a pretty peaceful coexistence. During breeding season we saw them periodically get a little testy with one another but usually it presented in raised tails and/or hackles. There were never any actual physical confrontations (that we observed). Same sex groupings, particularly males, seem to get along pretty well together – of course, all bets would be off if we were to introduce a female into the fray- and our boys are no exception.

Breeding season has come and gone, so naturally we would expect to see less posturing. However, today as I rounded the corner to their enclosure, I observed M1135 facing off with M1066-his tail and hackles were raised, his face was set in an agonistic pucker as he emitted a low growl. M1066 had his head turned away in avoidance, which is a submissive behavior, but  the rest of his body language sent a different message. His tail and hackles were also raised and his body was rigid, indicating that he wasn’t quite ready to submit. However, his brother body slammed him and M1066 tucked his tail and turned away, redirecting towards the other brother, M1067, who is the lowest ranking of the 3.

There is never a dull moment when you work with animals (especially wolves) and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Stay tuned….

Mexican Wolf Introduced 15 Years Ago

The Wolf, The Man and The Bear

A wolf encountered a man.

He asked, “Why do you want to kill me?

The man replied, “Because I can.”

The wolf went on.
He met another man.

He asked, “Why do you shoot my deer?
The man replied, “I want them on my wall.  And I can.”

The wolf met a bear.

He asked, “Why do you kill my deer?”

“Because I am hungry,” the bear replied.

“I kill the weak and the old.  The others thrive.”

“My brother,” said the wolf, and went on.

By Jim Hollister

bucket and tub day

Wendy looks at Bart and Jinkies with their splash tub.

Wendy looks on as Jinkies plays in her splash tub.

Yesterday was bucket and tub day. While the wolves’ water buckets are emptied and refilled with clean water at least daily, on an as-needed basis (usually once a week) we pull every water bucket and 50 gallon splash tub out of each enclosure and giving them a thorough cleaning before replacing and refilling. Because we operate on a well and water pressure is already pretty low, it doesn’t help the process when you are trying to fill tubs and as fast as you fill, the wolves are standing in them splashing the water out. It took 4 attempts to get Jinkies’ tub filled because as soon as I would get any measurable amount of water in her tub, she would jump in and splash it all back out. At one point she even laid down in the tub while I was filling it. I think she takes a certain delight in vexing me but she was having fun so I would have stayed all day if necessary 🙂  Wendy

Book Review: How The Dog Became The Dog: From Wolves To Our Best Friends

How The Dog Became The Dog: From Wolves To Our Best Friends by Mark Derr is exactly what the title says it is.  Mark gives a comprehensive and detailed description of the history of the dog and its descent from the wolf. He includes, for how could he not, the progression of the dog human relationship.  Humans have influenced dog evolution and dogs have influenced ours, at least that is a conclusion that can be drawn from the book.  Equally important in this book is the evaluation of wolf versus dog.  The confusion on how much of a wolf a dog really is is confounding to many.  Mark has determined that there is wolf, dog wolf (different from wolf dog), and dog.   He describes how the dog is so different from the wolf that there really should be no confusion.  He gives behavioral and physical descriptions that show why wolves are wolves, and dogs are dogs.
What makes this book excellent is that Mark has done his homework, literally, breaking open myths, citing primary literature, including personal anecdotes, and drawing from paleontological and genetic research. Experts have long disagreed about when the dog first appeared, some even disagree on what a dog is.  Mark has combed through each argument and presented it in a way that makes that answer, well, still just as mysterious but at least honest. There are parts of the book where having a science background is certainly handy, however, the scientific language is broken open so that anyone that wants to know how the dog became the dog can understand.   Also read Los Angeles Times review.

Letter From Executive Director Diane Gallegos


Many thanks for your support in 2012.  With your help we made it through a very challenging year stronger than ever.  Our animal friends got through the winter (so far!) in good shape and I am so excited to be open to the public again!   We have jumped into 2013 well poised to really make a difference for wolves (and prairie species!).  This is a long letter, but I ask that you take the time to read it in its entirety due to the implications it has for the future of this incredible organization.

While we were closed to the public in February things have been very busy behind the scenes here at the “Haven”!  One of our goals this year is to complete the process for certification with the American Sanctuary Association and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  As part of this process we are exploring what it really means to be a sanctuary, and evaluating our current activities to see if they support our mission as a sanctuary.

As you know, what distinguishes an animal sanctuary from other animal institutions is the philosophy that the animals come first.  Every action should be scrutinized for any trace of human benefit at the expense of the animals. A sanctuary must strive not to allow any activity that would place the animals in an unduly stressful situation.  The resident animals are given the opportunity to behave as naturally as possible in a protective environment.  We also must keep in mind that one of the most important roles of sanctuaries, beyond caring for the animals, is educating the public. The ultimate goal of a sanctuary should be to change the way that humans think of, and treat, non-human animals.

The dual goals of providing a protected environment for our wolves, while also working to change the hearts and minds of humans, creates a challenging tension that must be balanced.  For several years there has been concern over our Howl In events and the impact they have on the wolves. The last few years have been particularly difficult for Shadow and Spruce – both wolves who do fine during regular visits.  Clearly we needed to make adjustments to Howl In events so that our wolves are not unduly stressed.

In addition, we collected evaluations from Howl In participants over the last 2 years.  I will admit to being quite surprised by the results.  Most participants who just participated in the evening event did not have their expectations met. Those who were part of the smaller group that spent the night were delighted.  The evaluations showed that while participants enjoyed the hands on activities, storytelling, music, and prairie visits –they were disappointed because their primary reason for attending the Howl In was spending time with the wolves. The concern over our resident wolves, combined with tepid evaluations, has driven the decision to move into a new era at the Haven.

In 2013 we plan to launch a new event in place of Howl Ins.  The event will be an exclusive opportunity for guests to engage in a much deeper way with our organization and to support our mission.  We will limit the number to 25 each evening.  The cost will be $75/person for adults and $65/person for students.  Included will be dinner, a prairie visit, an extended enrichment visit in the sanctuary with one of our animal care staff, songs and s’mores around the campfire, as well as a shorter sanctuary visit following a continental breakfast in the morning.  This event will reflect the heart of what it means to be a sanctuary.  We will need a new name – and we will be announcing a contest to select the name that you will hear about very soon (there will be PRIZES involved!).  We will also be offering an opportunity for volunteers to experience this new event as our guests to thank you for your wonderful work and to let us hear what you think!

We would like to offer weekend regular visit guests the opportunities to participate in the wonderful “table” activities and storytelling reserved in the past for Howl Ins at no additional fee.  This is a great opportunity for those of you who enjoy sharing your knowledge about wolves and the prairie but do not want to give public visits.  We will plan to have a few tents and tables set up throughout the summer with activities for children and opportunities for all of our guests to learn more about wolves or the prairie if they choose– so if you are interested in helping please let Cindy know!

Again, thank you for your support of the Haven.  We have an incredible group of volunteers and you are making a difference for our resident wolves as well as wolves in the wild.


With gratitude,



SSP wolf update

Happy Monday everyone – A quick animal update:

The biggest news is we caught up quite a few of our male Species Survival Plan (SSP) animals for semen collection and banking last week. For two days we hosted the Point Defiance Zoo reproductive team as well as a reproductive specialist out of the St. Louis Zoo who is involved with the Mexican gray wolf program, and one of the vets we work with from Yelm Vet. Between all of the people, the wolves, and equipment, we still managed to all squish into the education room for the procedures.

Tala is one of the red wolves living at Wolf Haven.

Tala is one of the red wolves living at Wolf Haven.

Jacob Black

Jacob Black









We caught up our red wolf males, Tala and Jacob, on Thursday and the following day we caught up our three Mexican gray wolf pre-release brothers (M1066, M1067, M1135…[My] house names of Hobbs, Cejitos, and Slinky respectively).  The catchup and procedures went well for everyone. Jacob’s samples were banked, but Tala’s samples had a low-ish sperm count. However, Ruby and Tala were seen tied just the day before so the timing for Tala’s collection wasn’t the best – the guess was that his ‘tank may have been empty’. The three brothers unfortunately didn’t have the best samples, but the team was still able to bank some of it. In addition, all of the wolves were given their ‘annuals’: vaccines, blood draw, and a physical exam by our vet. The wolves all recovered in their crates and were released, and thankfully everyone is doing fine after the procedure. In addition, all of the blood work looks good!

We’ve also had a fairly active breeding season so far. We have a total of four pairs of wolves recommended for breeding (as decided by the red and Mexican wolf SSP programs). We have seen both pairs of our red wolves tied (Jacob/Tamaska and Ruby/Tala), as well as one of our pre-release pairs of Mexican gray wolves (M752/F759 or house names of Coal/Fern).

Mexican gray wolf pair

Mexican gray wolf pair

We have an additional pair of pre-release Mexican gray wolves recommended, but haven’t seen them tied yet. This is a unique pair though, as the male is 15 years old! We’re all rooting for him, and keep in mind – just because we haven’t seen that pair tied doesn’t mean they haven’t. Now comes the waiting game…

Everyone else in the sanctuary is doing well.

Erik Wilber, Animal Care and Education Specialist Image


"Wolves in Washington" presentation on Thursday, 3/7

“Wolves in Washington”, a traveling wolf exhibit, is on display at the Washington State Library from Feb 4 – April 12, 2013. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by to see this interesting display, organized by the Burke Museum, University of Washington (in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife).On Thurs., March 7, at 6pm, Wolf Haven International will give a special presentation about the return of Wolves in Washington. Again, stop by for this free talk, where you’ll hear from the sanctuary’s executive director, Diane Gallegos, and Cindy Irwin, the director of education and volunteers.

The traveling exhibit is on display from Monday – Friday, February 4 – April 12, 2013, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., (Note: The exhibit will be closed Monday, February 18, for Presidents’ Day);

Where: Washington State Library, Point Plaza East, 6880 Capitol Boulevard SE, Tumwater, WA