There are three sounds I’ve heard in my life that I will never forget: the sound of my mom singing “Day is Done” (don’t ask); the sound of pebbles washing back into the waves on the beach in Riomaggiore, Italy; and the sound of 45 wolves howling at once.
These 45 wolves live a mere 15 miles away from my house, at the Wolf Sanctuary in Speedwell Forge. The sanctuary is a non-profit organization that maintains a natural environment for rescued wolves and wolf-hybrids, educating visitors about wolf culture and the plight of these species – many of which are extinct or endangered.
The day that I visited the sanctuary was muddy. I changed into the boots that I keep in the trunk of my car (doesn’t everyone?). Shortly after, a busload of boys aged 13-16 showed up as part of a school field trip. Now, I have two younger brothers, and I remember ages 13-16. Not pretty! As I walked around for an hour that day, I not only observed the wolves, learning about their histories, personalities, and behaviors. I also observed the students, fascinated by their fascination, respect, and interest in learning about these regal creatures.
If a wolf sanctuary can keep 20+ teen/preteen boys interested, I’m willing to bet almost everyone will love the experience. The sanctuary is volunteer-run and open year-round, offering public tours on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays (visit their website for registration details). They also run special events, including full moon tours which draws hundreds of people and includes a bonfire and fundraisers like the upcoming Music and Art with the Wolves (May 9, 11am-3pm). If you go, here is my advice:
- Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.
- Go in the winter if possible. The wolves are more active and their coats are full when it’s cold.
- Bring a camera.
- Bring all of your friends.
And lastly, ask your tour guide to try to get the wolves to howl together. This is how they communicate with each other within and between packs. To be honest I have never heard a more haunting and beautiful sound.
About the author: Erin moved to Lancaster from upstate New York. She enjoys exploring Lancaster’s flourishing arts and literary scenes. Learn more about Erin at erindorney.com or follower her on Twitter at @edorney.