If you’re looking for something unique and outdoors to do with the kids, any time of the year, head to the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. I first heard about it when I came across a post about their amazing program Sleeping with Wolves, in which you can camp overnight in tents with 20+ wolves. Going to sleep with the sound of howling I can imagine really makes you feel like you’re in a national park out west, not in Westchester! And ever since then, I have been curious. So I finally took the kids on a weekend this Fall to see what it’s all about. I was intrigued. And my girls, the animal lovers they are, were excited.
About the Wolf Conservation Center
What exactly is the Wolf Conservation Center? It is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wolf conservation by “teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future”. It has a variety of on-site and off-site educational programs, some geared toward children, some adults-only and some a mix. We signed up for the Wolves of North America event, which occurs weekly, and teaches you about the mythology, biology and ecology of wolf families.
This is how it worked: everyone gathered together inside a small building, where we learned just about every wolf fact from our wonderful guide, complete with slideshow. He told us stories, showed us images, and taught the kids interesting things like how wolves are scared of people and run away when they see them, instead of attacking them. We learned that they can hear each other’s howls up to 10 miles away, we learned that they have 42 teeth, just like a dog’s. In fact, we learned that every dog, whether it be a Terrier or Chihuahua, is 99% wolf.
Visiting the Wolves
The Center is home to the very rare Mexican gray wolf species and the red wolf species, of which there are only 400 and 300 wolves respectively currently living in the world today. We went to visit them, but first our guide suggested we try and communicate with the wolves, located on the other side of the property, all fenced in. We all let out a bunch of howls and sure enough, they howled back. That was a big crowd pleaser. Then we walked over to see, and feed, the wolves. Let’s not kid ourselves – though wolves may be scared of us, they certainly don’t look it! Watching a wolf take down a piece of turkey meat or eat an egg whole is a site for curious eyes – there is an animalistic fierceness you just don’t get to see every day. It was fascinating.
This event was for all ages. The Center, however, has a program designed specifically for kids, called Pack Chat for Kids, which I would recommend as well, and is most weekends. The Wolf Conservation Center offers year round events with special events such as their Halloween Howl, Holiday Howl, and Howl in the New Year events. Be sure to take a look at their calendar. They also offer a Summer Wolf Camp for Grades 2-6. For all information, visit their website here.
Wolf Conservation Center, 7 Buck Run, South Salem, NY 10590. 914-763-2373
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