Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stormy the wolf helps educate kids

Stormy the wolf helps educate kids Neytra Gnanakaran, 5, of Santa Fe looks at Stormy on Friday at a talk at the La Farge Branch Library. The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary will hold another talk at the Southside Branch Library at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, January 15, 2016
Layton Cougar holds the leash of a 9-year-old Arctic wolf named Stormy on Friday and discusses his work with the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, N.M., at the La Farge Branch Library. The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary will hold another talk at the Southside Branch Library at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
Wolves are usually most comfortable in the wild, but an Arctic wolf visiting a Santa Fe public library Friday was on its best behavior as dozens of children and their parents gazed at the creature in awe. As Leyton Cougar, the director of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, told stories about his two decades of rescuing wolves, Stormy took a nap inside a conference-style room at the La Farge Branch Library on Llano Street.
Cougar described Stormy as one of the most human-friendly wolves he has rescued.
During the event, sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, Cougar addressed diet, hunting strategies, family life, physical adaptations and pack structure of wolves, as well as the differences between wolves, wolf-dogs and regular canines.
This is the third year the library group has hosted Cougar and one of the rescued wolves from the sanctuary, located on 90 acres about 20 miles south of Ramah in Western New Mexico. Cougar will introduce Flurry, another Arctic wolf, during two additional presentations Saturday at the city’s Southside Branch Library.

Stormy the wolf helps educate kids
Shabd Prem Stuelpnagel, 6, of Santa Fe pets Stormy, a 9-year-old Arctic wolf from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah, N.M., on Friday at the La Farge Branch Library. The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary will hold another talk at the Southside Branch Library at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican


Pat Hodapp, director of the Santa Fe Public Library system, said librarians are always looking for events that will attract children. In this case, she said, Cougar and the wolves have drawn hundreds of children to city libraries in the past three years. “When we bring them in, you’re not going to find books on wolves on the shelves for awhile because all the children check them out,” she said.
The goal of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary is to rescue displaced, unwanted and unreleasable captive-bred wolves and wolf-dogs and provide them with lifelong care. The sanctuary also makes efforts to educate people about the dangers of trying keep wolves as pets and of breeding them with dogs — creating what the sanctuary’s website calls “misfit canines.”

The website says wolves are some of the most misunderstood animals, describing them as “gentle, shy, intelligent and sentient animals.” “Unfortunately,” the website says, “the other misconception people often hold about Wolves is that they are not much different than domestic dogs. … Too many people learn the truth the hard way and, now bred and born into a life in private captivity, it will be the animals that pay the price for this exotic pet trade.”


Stormy, also known as Storm, has lived at the sanctuary since 2006, while he was still a pup.
Cougar took him in — along with Stormy’s family, from a breeder in Oregon, according to the wolf’s bio on the organization’s website. “He was the most gregarious and social out of the pups, and every now and then, he will go out in the public as an ambassador,” Stormy’s biography says.
Cougar, is nicknamed “Wolf Daddy,” has rescued nearly 400 wolves over the past 20 years, according to his personal website. “My passion and my desire is to educate the world that we must leave the wild, wild,” his biography says.