Ever had a full grown wolf stick its tongue in your mouth?
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center (CWWC) offers the unique opportunity to get up close and personal — sometimes too personal — with wolves and other animals.
Located near Divide, Colorado (about two hours outside of Denver), CWWC offers educational tours to the public. You and your friends can learn about, howl with and even visit with some of CWWC’s “ambassador” wolves — wolves that are docile enough for human interaction.
The 35 acres of CWWC is home to many animals including several species of wolves, coyotes, red foxes, swift foxes and the occasional chicken.
How CWWC Began
The beginnings of CWWC were riddled with hardship. Darlene Kobobel, the center’s founder, discovered her love for wolves when she met Chinook, a wolf hybrid that was to be euthanized at a local shelter. Kobobel took Chinook home and created the Wolf Hybrid Rescue Center. After the first year of operation, Kobobel realized that try as they might, she and the volunteers could not rescue every animal that needed saving. They needed to start at the source — through education. This meant moving away from the word “rescue” and so CWWC was born.
Through two more moves — including an emergency evacuation due to the Hayman Fire — education is still the driving force behind what Kobobel, staff and volunteers do at CWWC. Yes, they have rescued, are still rescuing, will continue to rescue animals. They currently have several different species in their care, but they push their visitors to learn and understand the plight these animals face both in the wild and in captivity.
What does CWWC Do?
Wolf dogs and coydogs — coyote hybrids — are not illegal. Although anyone can find and purchase them, they are difficult to care for and need stimulation and plenty of space to use their wild senses. Complete maturation of hybrids happens at around the age of two or three. It takes this long for their true personalities to develop — a once playful and docile puppy can turn aggressive at maturation. Many people who obtain hybrids do not have the time or space to work with these large and partially wild animals and end up giving them up to shelters once they mature. Shelters usually don’t have the space themselves to care for hybrids or the manpower to find them the homes they need. Because of this, most hybrids are euthanized at shelters within 24-48 hours of arrival.
What Happens When You Get There
To visit CWWC, you’ll need to make a tour reservation online. There are plenty of options with a range of prices that start at $15 for the Standard Tour. You’ll meet at the visitor’s center at least 15 minutes before your scheduled tour time where you and your party will fill out additional paperwork and release forms. A guide will then round the visitors up and take them on an approximately 60 minute tour to educate them about the wolves and other animals. The center and the guides don’t sugar coat what these animals have endured and often talk about the fur industry, canned hunts and other practices that often go unrecognized.
So back to the wolf tongue in your mouth thing… If you want to, you can take the Interactive Alpha Tour at CWWC. This tour allows you to spend time with the wolves and a professional photographer will take your photos. Wolves say hello by licking the inside of the newcomers’ mouths and it is highly suggested you allow them to do it. The moment you turn away, you offend the wolf and it might not spend any more time around you. If you don’t want to french kiss a wolf, you can take your chances of offending it or stick the other side of the fence. CWWC asks that if you sign up to visit the wolves that you refrain from wearing leather, faux fur, Uggs and other items that might smell or look like a toy. For a complete list of available tours, pricing and more visit Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center at their website.