Through the thick, chilling fog that envelopes the passerby, eight-foot wire fences can be seen trailing along the hundred-acre property of the Wolf Sanctuary in Lititz, Pennsylvania. In the distance, a single howl circles the property and slowly it gains momentum as dozens of other wolves chime in to create a mesmerizing and enchanting concert.
While tourist attractions such as this one often spark an abundance of controversy regarding animal ethics, this sanctuary serves as a rescue and does not breed the wolves. The animals often are illegally owned and face the threat of being euthanized before this sanctuary rises to their defense.
Back in 1980, Bill Darlington was gifted with a single wolf. He made the proper accommodations for his pet and did extensive research to properly care for it. Five years later the state of Pennsylvania classified wolves as an exotic animal and a license was required for ownership. People from all over the East coast began calling Darlington to ask him to take in their animals.
Darlington managed 55 wolves without any major issues, but they began inbreeding, and when the numbers went up to 83, he started giving tours to provide a revenue. Now all the animals are neutered and the sanctuary stresses that they provide rescue services, they do not breed the wolves.
“A lot of them (the wolves) will come when you call their names, because of their old owners,” says tour guide and volunteer, Benny.
A couple of the wolves were kept in basements of homes for breeding and were only allowed outside to go to the bathroom. Another wolf, Cheyenne, was owned by a family for years. One year, they took her to their beach house and she jumped a seven foot fence, ran miles down the road to an elementary school until authorities came and picked her up.
Facing death, the Wolf Sanctuary was called and agreed to take in this sweet animal. Cheyenne now lives in a pack with another wolf, Loki. Incredibly happy, she loves attention and acts quite content with her new companion.
“All she ever wanted was to be with someone—doesn’t matter if its animal or human,” says Benny.
When a new wolf arrives, they are placed in quarantine- a one acre enclosure that helps the wolf adjust to the different scents, sounds, and sights of their new environment. Some time later, the caretaker of the wolves will try an to introduce Cheyenne to a pack.
A pack of wolves consists of anywhere from two to six animals in a pen. Many of these wolves come from families and homes where they are treated with as much attention as a beloved family pet. The volunteers and caretakers make sure to treat the wolves accordingly.
Each enclosure holds anywhere from one to three acres of wood and field. 48 wolves’ salvation, this reduce facility not only fees and cares for the animals’ physical needs, but also their emotional and psychological requirements.
Every wolf on the property receives delicate and interested care just as a family who adopts a child would care for him or her. The wolves are treated as individuals and their caretakers demonstrate deep understanding of the animals.
Since Darlington’s death in 1988, his daughter Dawn took over his position as manager and owner of the Wolf Sanctuary. With her management the wolves have an average life span of 12 to 14 years, while in the wild they would live only 6 to 8 years.
The wolves are beloved and when they die, they are carefully cremated and the ashes are inserted into urns which are held in the mansion