On Sunday April 6th my husband Don and I had dinner with the wolves. Yes, that’s right. An experience that words alone cannot describe, although I’ll do my best as I’d like to share with you the profoundly moving impact of being close to some of natures most beautiful creatures. So close that looking into their eyes, witnessing their mysterious beauty one could not help but wonder why these animals are so maligned. Of course it’s mostly ignorance, and long held mythical beliefs that the wolf is somehow an evil predator. The Mexican grey wolf was the focus of the event; it is in danger of extinction. We were properly educated during our visit to the refuge to rethink any misconceptions about wolves while we spent time looking through the chain link fences put up to protect them from us and we from them. We could not touch, but were deeply touched by being in their presence. It is sad to think of them as some of the last few survivors of their species.

The occasion was at the Animal Sanctuary and Preserve in N. ScottsdaleAZ; a fund raising dinner to support those whose tireless work is to rescue and rehabilitate as well as save wild animals and birds from cruel captivity and extinction. The dinner was primarily to make it known that there are only 82 Mexican grey wolves remaining, and we were asked to do whatever we could to save the species from annihilation and excitation.

Many of the animals in the sanctuary would never be able to return to the wild; like the mountain lions, de-clawed,(who by the way are so much larger than I’d ever imagined them from seeing pictures and documentaries about them) and a leopard who had also been de-clawed and other wise crippled by circus trainers. Others had been taken from people who took non domestic species including birds into their homes as pets, abused them and/or let them go, or were confiscated by animal protection organizations.

Before dinner, we toured the sanctuary, got up close to the mountain lions, foxes, bears, a white wolf, and many wild creatures that had been taken in and healed from some terrible wounds and afflictions. Some would never be whole again. It was just as sad to see them caged, yet their relaxed demeanor expressed they somehow knew they were safe and being cared for by loving people. Their sanctuary habitats were designed to be as much as possible like their homes in the wild. Never-the-less, captivity is in essence unnatural. Many of them were just as interested in us as we in them, peering at us through the fences, trying to get our attention while making it clear to us that they are sentient beings with a higher intelligence than they are ever given credit for, and deserving of respect and appreciation for their obvious individual personalities. Some, like the foxes and smaller creatures appeared restless, on the move the whole time, just as they would be in the wilderness.

Don, a pro photographer refused to take pictures of them, he said there was no way you could do them justice through the fences. The full meaning of the phrase, bitter sweet came into our senses that day.

Below is a picture of a Mexican Grey Wolf un-obscured by a fence .

The read on for the full story, including the one eyed owl.

There was a one eyed owl sitting upright in a proud and dignified pose looking right at us as if to say ,”Whom is looking at who? ” I was so impressed with its demeanor I persuaded Don to take its picture. As Don brought his lens into focus between the spaces in the fence, the owl, like a movie star preferring to be photographed on its best side, turned its head away from the camera, hiding from view the dark empty space where the other eye had once been, so we saw only its face in profile. After Don clicked the shot it turned back to face us; it was one of those moments when we come face to face with the fact that we are not the only inhabitants of this planet with intelligence and a sense of self.

The sun was beginning to go down as we sat down to dinner, and then the wolves began their howling. It was as though they had timed their evening cries into the night to accompany our meal, haunting and wildly native; we listened quietly in awe.

We heard speakers from Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center where the event was held, talking of their purpose, their hard work; representatives from Defenders of Wildlife explained their endeavors to protect and preserve the Mexican grey Wolves, and the whole planet and all of its diverse inhabitants. Those organizations are among the many whose interest in preserving wild life and natural habitats deserve our full support. Can you imagine a world without woodlands, wildernesses full of various life forms, prairies, pastures and oceans, lakes and rivers? A barren and lifeless world would not be habitable, let alone as beautiful. We owe it to ourselves and all future generations to protect all undeveloped land and wild animals from destruction. We may think of helping them survive as if it were only for their benefit. The fact is that the entire ecological systems of our beautiful planet depend on all of them for its survival, and ours.

When we left the sanctuary the images, the sounds, even the scents of the sanctuary stayed with us. It wasn’t like going to a zoo. It was more like going to visit friends or relatives in a hospital, or a nursing or convalescent home. I know that zoos give people the opportunity to see animals they would otherwise never see in the in the flesh. It still saddens me that animals are taken from their natural world into unnatural environments in order to introduce them to the public. But what you see in a zoo are not truly wild animals. They are ones that have been taken from the wild or bred in captivity, so all you see are the remnants of their natural being, or see how they are not truly at home in their man made habitats.

Please, contribute to those organizations that are saving wild life from extinction and our beautiful planet from destruction.

TTFN and all the best from Elaine