I’m a huge animal lover and I always have been. I'm that person that swerves my car so I don't hit a chipmunk. So I guess you could say I was excited to go to the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington for the first time. I don’t know why I hadn’t been here before, but I loved every minute of it, and I am so glad I got to spend a day there. If you haven’t been, you are missing out!
First I met the owner, Steve Hall, and we talked about what exactly the refuge does. He and his wife, Wendy, have been rehabbing animals for 40 years now. And in my opinion, they have the coolest job ever! The animals that are brought to their refuge are mainly injured animals from the Adirondacks, which are no longer able to survive on their own. After rehabilitation and tender loving care from the Hall family, they serve as educational animals at the refuge until they are able to be released back into the wild.
The day started off with the main attraction - the Wolf Gathering! This used to be called the Wolf Walk, and Steve would walk the wolves on leashes along a trail, with visitors following behind. The Halls have recently built an enclosed area for the wolves, where they now hold what is called the Wolf Gathering. Steve is a wealth of knowledge about the wolves, and it was hard not to be engaged in the discussion due to his bursting passion.
The refuge has three wolves - Cree (9 year old Malamute and Timber Wolf hybrid and the alpha male), Zeebie (a 6 year old Great Plains wolf), and Kiska (a 16 month old Great Plains wolf and the only female, raised by Zeebie). Talk about different personalities. Kiska, being the youngest, was the most playful. While Cree and Zeebie were lounging around, Kiska bounced, hopped, and jumped all over the place. She was adorable! Steve told us that Cree would most enjoy finding a place to lay in the sun, and that was exactly what he did. He had no interest in partaking in Kiska’s games. I think Zeebie ate his breakfast too fast that morning because he was whining a lot, which they informed us was not typical behavior for Zeebie. Poor guy! As I watched the three of them, we listened to Steve talk about the wolves, while his youngest son, Alex, was in the pen playing with them.
I was in awe as Alex wrestled, kissed, hugged, and played hide and seek with them. He even picked up Kiska and carried her around like she was a little kid. I would have done almost anything to have been able to go in there and play with them.I was undoubtedly jealous. And then it happened; the one thing I'd been waiting for. They put their snouts to the sky and started howling!
These are lucky wolves that will get to live two to three times longer than a wolf in the wilderness, because they are fed every day and don’t have to worry about competing with other animals in the hunt for food. Wolves are keystone predators, meaning that they control the population of animals that we want controlled and other animals that are competition for food. Speaking of food, shortly after we got there Steve told us that we were lucky because Alex was on his way to feed the wolves. And let me tell you, it wasn’t Kibbles-n-Bits. Their breakfast was a deer that had come in the night before. Alex commanded for the wolves to sit just like you would a dog, and once they did he would give them each a big, juicy piece of deer meat, which took them only a few bites to get down. Yum!
After I was done watching them eat their breakfast I headed down the driveway to check out the rest of the animals that the refuge has, and I had no idea they had so many. First stop was with the barred owls. There are five who are all blind in one eye and have a broken wing on the same side. You would think that being blind in one eye and having their backs to you would make it difficult for them to see you, but they can swivel their heads up to around 270 degrees. Could you imagine?! There's no escaping their sight, that's for sure!
There were many other animals, including a number of different owls, ravens, hawks, bald eagles, bobcats, deer, ducks, geese, chickens, a porcupine, fox, and more! I really couldn’t believe how many animals were there. And what is interesting about them, is that they all come with their own story. Abandonment, injury, or whatever it may be, they are all unique in their own way and all very lucky to be taken care of by the Hall family. For example, at one point they had a bear, Arthur, who was under 30 pounds when they got him. They said that he used to horde all of his food dishes in a corner so that they couldn't get taken away. I definitely wouldn't have tried to take anything away from a bear either! They were able to nurse him back to health and eventually release him back into his natural habitat. Amazing!
I also got to see Wendy feed the bobcats (who made the strangest sounds, clearly indicating that they were hungry). They were jumping onto the side of the pen they were so excited at the sight of that bucket carrying their meal. Lunch was, again, fresh deer meat. Mmmmm! One of my favorite animals was actually the porcupine. He was so cute, and so interested in all of the people looking at him. He climbed the side of the pen starring at everyone, almost as if he knew they were all in awe over him. Too cute!
I haven't stopped talking about how great the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center is since I went. I have already promised to take my family very soon! The refuge is a non-profit organization receiving little funding, and admission is free, so feel free to drop a donation if you appreciate what the Hall family is doing so that they can continue with their rehabbing of these amazing Adirondack animals. It is an experience not to be missed, and I promise you will not leave disappointed.
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This week our bloggers disclose some of their favorite localADKactivities.