The Lucky Litter: Wolf Pups Rescued From Wildfire
By Jennifer Keats Curtis; photography by John Gomes; Arbordale Publishing; $17.95
The blurb: When a huge wildfire roared along the Funny River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, firefighters rushed to the rescue. Finding not one but five wolf pups in need, they raced into action to save the litter. With no wolf parents to help, zookeepers and vets at the Alaska Zoo made sure the babies grew into a healthy, happy pack. Follow this true story written for children as the helpless pups move from the charred refuge to the Alaska Zoo, finally becoming big and strong enough to move into their forever home at the Minnesota Zoo.
Excerpt: Through the hazy smoke, the tired firefighter raced up the hill on his all-terrain vehicle. He stopped to secure his gear and looked down ... what was that little black ball of fluff? A bear? No, that was definitely a tail.
The creature looked up. Her blue eyes locked with the firefighter's blue eyes: a wolf pup. So young. What was she doing out of her den? The firefighter called for help.
Help came in the form of a wildlife biologist who examined the den — a deep hole below a hollow tree. There were no tracks, which meant no adult wolves were caring for the babies. The biologist tried to climb in. He was too tall. A smaller firefighter scrambled into the lair. One by one, he pulled out the litter — two grey, three black.
The small, fuzzy babies wobbled rather than walked, but their eyes were open. They were probably 3 weeks old.
The firefighters named the two girls and two of the boys after their villages: Gannett, Huslia, Hooper and Stebbins. The last boy, X-Ray, they named for their firefighting team.
The fluffy pups were covered in dirt and something worse — porcupine quills. They clearly needed help.
First, medics made sure the babies got a drink through a plastic tube and plunger called a syringe. Then, the pups were flown to the Alaska Zoo.