Wolf Mountain Sanctuary is a very special place. The wolves along with the knowledgeable staff... read more
Hi, I don't normally give reviews on trip advisor but I did for this place (it was actually the first time I ever gave a review). As a biologist who has studied animals and animal behavior all over the world, I was very very... More
Hi, I don't normally give reviews on trip advisor but I did for this place (it was actually the first time I ever gave a review). As a biologist who has studied animals and animal behavior all over the world, I was very very depressed and disheartened to see the conditions these animals live in at this place and I would never recommend a visit to anyone who actually cares about the species. The majority of people on my tour loved it because they got to cuddle with a wolf, but this place is absolutely detrimental to the human perception of these beautiful wild creatures and will 100% make more people want to go buy a wolf as a pet...which is not a good idea. I am just going to copy and paste my review here. I had high hopes for this place but cannot in good conscious ever tell someone they should visit. It is the complete wrong location (CA desert) to even have such a place with these animals (some of which were previously wild Alaskan wolves). Zero care for wolf conservation- Wolves are absolutely stunning and beautiful animals. I learned that when I was lucky enough to spend a month studying them in Yellowstone National Park as part of a college summer field course. As a biologist and someone who has studied animal behavior and conservation at various sites around the world, I was looking forward to seeing wolves and hearing the conservation and educational messages that Wolf Mountain Sanctuary imparts on their visitors. That is NOT what happened. Where to even start… Tour and lack of educational message: The one hour ‘tour’ consists of having visitors interact with the wolves and take selfies. At least half of the tour was spent with the surly and unenthusiastic ‘tour guide’ taking photos of people taking turns sitting and cuddling with a wolf that was brought out to sit on a table. There was no guidance about how you should behave around a wolf and give them some space, and when we went into the enclosures the visitors all mobbed the animals to get good photos. While I understand that many of these wolves (and wolf-dog hybrids) are former pets and used to human interaction, the concept that wolves are WILD animals and you should NEVER have a wolf as a pet was not a part of the tour. Kissing and cuddling a wolf was encouraged and I would guess the majority of the visitors went home thinking they might want to adopt a wolf. While I understand that humans LOVE this kind of thing and WANT to cuddle with a wolf and having a personal connection to a species and interactions with an animal can (if done correctly) lead to a long term desire to want to donate to conservation of a species… the message was never imparted that these wolves are unfortunately in this situation due to very misguided people thinking they make good pets. Wolves are NOT dogs. Dogs have been domesticated for around 15,000 years and are very different from wolves. Even if a wolf has grown up in captivity it is still a wild animal. Even if it is a third generation captive wolf, it is still a wild animal. When I asked if they had any relationship with conservation or research taking place on wild wolves my guide simply said No. They have an enthusiastic audience of people who clearly care and have driven a long way to learn about wolves. It is the perfect place to teach the public about the complex problems wolves face in the wild, human-wildlife conflict, legislation that can favor hunters and ranchers, and the reasons that wolves should never be pets. Educational lessons that were not mentioned. They claim “Our mission is to save the wolves.” What this place actually does is the opposite of that statement and completely detrimental to long term wolf conservation. I will say our guide mentioned one of the wild wolves was there because his entire pack was killed in Alaska as a result of Sarah Palin and her policies. That was the one thing I could get behind, though there was no further explanation. Environment: The enclosures are too small and some (not all) have cement floors. The closest thing to a den is a plastic igloo or a crude wooden dog house. There is little to no enrichment for the animals. Some are singly housed, which I understand can be necessary due to the complex social structure of wolves. They are located in the desert where in the summer it gets to be over 100 degrees. Some of the wolves had been wild wolves from Alaska. I am still at a loss for why a sanctuary for wolves would ever be set up in the desert in the first place. More: While I appreciate they are working on a very limited budget, it does not take extra money to use their platform to educate their visitors about wolves. Any animal sanctuary that encourages interaction with animals over observing and education, is not thinking about the well being of the animals. Most people were quite happy with the tour as they got to cuddle with a wolf, but as someone who cares about the long-term conservation of wolves, I was very upset with what I saw. I have never written a trip advisor review, but I felt like for this…I had to.