It's not every day a hulking timber wolf asks for — well, demands, really — a belly rub.
Unless, of course, you happen to work at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, where a certain glutton for belly rubs wouldn't have it any other way.
While staff members were cleaning the pens earlier this month, Na'vi, a 6-year-old timber wolf, made his customary demands — nice and hard around the sides of the belly and don't bother with the chest.
Seriously, please don't bother with the chest.
In fact, every time Casey Hampf, a staffer at the sanctuary, allowed her hands to wander to the wolf's upper body, she received a firm correction from Na'vi's paw.
"We try to encourage all our staff members to interact with our wolves, especially during cleaning time," Hampf tells The Dodo. "The wolves really love human interaction. They love that kind of connection."
"Especially Na'vi. He loves belly rubs," she says. "He will do it standing up on his den. Or he'll get on his back and flip over."
Just nothing fancy.
"He'll tell you what he wants," Hampf adds. "If he wants a belly rub, he'll be like 'Nope, you can't pet me anywhere else but my belly.'"
The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center was founded by Darlene Kobobel in 1993 after she adopted a wolf-dog hybrid named Chinook, who was on the verge of being euthanized.
Since then, the sanctuary has become a vital refuge for scores of timber wolves, also known as gray wolves. Once found across the country, gray wolves are fast fading from the American landscape, thanks to widespread hunting and habitat encroachment. What was once a population totaling nearly half a million is at around 5,000 today.
Their federal protection, under the Endangered Species Act, was recently removed in some regions, including the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes, leaving their fates in the hands of local lawmakers. This move, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), could spell disaster for what remains of America's wolf population. The act had provided blanket protection for a wolf population in recovery. Without it, according to HSUS, the wolves are left to the jurisdiction of individual states — states that are already planning wolf hunts.
Which is why, for the lucky ones who find their way to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, a belly rub — exactly the way they want it — goes without saying.
Good morning, everyone! We are so thankful to be experiencing summer like crowds! Yesterday was extremely busy for all of the staff, so we didn't get a chance to record our usual weekly wolf blog. Please enjoy this short video of Na'Vi begging for belly rubbins.
Posted by Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center on Monday, March 21, 2016
source: The Dodo