If you’ve never heard a wolf howl, it’s really something to experience. My first time was actually hearing an entire pack howling together. I was so unprepared for the experience I immediately broke into tears. Luckily, I was with Lois Tulleners, who founded the 50-acre White Wolf Sanctuary where I was having this incredible experience, and it wasn’t her first rodeo.
“People cry all the time,” she said. “I started this place over 25 years ago, and I still get tears sometimes.”
The sanctuary in Tidewater primarily houses Arctic wolves and occasionally other subspecies like tundra and timber wolves. “The wolves here were all born in captive situations.” Lois said. By captive, she means small cages, or in many situations, at the end of a chain. “Once they come here, they’re here to stay.”
Before my visit, I have to admit to some trepidation about seeing wolves in cages, but once I entered the grounds, that fear was dispelled. “It’s hard for us to get good photos because the fences make people think the wolves are in cages,” Lois said. “When I worked at the zoo and other sanctuaries, it always hurt me that the wild animals couldn’t run, so when I built this place, it was extremely important to me that they would have lots of room. We’re also set up so that we can move them around a lot. In zoos they call it enrichment; we just call it moving the wolves. Even as big as their space here is, the wolves use it all.”
For the protection of its furry residents, the sanctuary is intentionally hard to find and the address isn’t on the website. Visits are by appointment only and include a thorough tour of the property that lasts about two hours.
And though I can’t guarantee it, the odds are pretty good that you won’t leave the property without shedding a few (of the good kind of) tears.
To visit the wolves, reservations are required and can be made by calling (541) 528-3588. Visits cost $75 for adults and $25 for kids under 13.
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