Is this program safe?
YES. The animals undergo an exhaustive behavioral training program and emotional nurturing that allows them to be comfortable and friendly to other animals and strangers. In addition our experienced handlers can read signs of stress and discomfort in the animals long before they become an issue. We’ve never had a problem since the conception of the program almost three years ago.
Wolf Connection program is community-centered?
- We begin the discussion focusing on the wolves to then relate it to daily situations in the students’ lives
- We discuss ways in which we can protect and enjoy the wonders that the world provides us
- We develop the principle that human beings treat nature the way they treat each other
- Young men and women naturally determine the social norms they live by–what’s OK and what’s not–in their lives and in their social groups … so we’ll discuss some norms that support their growth and contribution, and some that don’t.
How does the Wolf Connection program complement other efforts?
Even though Wolf Connection functions as a stand-alone program, it can also be an excellent enhancement experience to peer helping, diversity education, conflict mediation, and other character building initiatives.
In addition, the Wolf Connection program can be complimentary to standard academic curriculum in the areas of natural sciences, anthropology, human history and evolution, behavioral studies, ecology and conservation, and moral and civic education.
It may also fit within various elective courses in the area of world cultures, traditions, myths and legends, spirituality, sustainability and balanced living, and community service among others.
How do we use the animals to inspire youth?
“The power of co-evolutionary bonding”
The biggest challenge for any person or program working with young people is to be able to engage their attention in order to get the content across. The wolves and wolfdogs achieve this very easily as event participants become mesmerized at the mere sight of them.
In addition, researchers Wolfgang Schleigdt and Michael Shalter, among others, date our first associations with wolves at 100 to 135,000 years ago making it the first recorded collaboration between men and animals. In their work, Co-evolution of Humans and Canids, an alternative view to domestication: Homo Homini Lupus, they suggest that humans and wolves have been not only collaborating, but also bonding and co-evolving from the time of our predecessors, the Neanderthals.
They even go so far as to proposing that we have inherited some of the basic features and behaviors that make us humans not from the chimpanzees, but from the wolves. According to them, we owe them, among other things, the concept of a dwelling, the know-how and ability to herd, and the sense of loyalty and care of family.
This initial bonding with the wolves has evolved over the millennia until the wolf became venerated and regarded as a magical spiritual animal and a teacher by ancient cultures around the world. This veneration, widely lost over the last few centuries, reflects a sacred bond that, according to Robert McGhee, Curator of Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, is at our DNA level.
Volumes have been written on the many benefits of animal-assisted therapy. At Wolf Connection we go even further by tapping into this ancient bond between wolves and humans in order to reach and engage young men and women at a much deeper level.
Where are these animals coming from?
All our animals were bred in captivity and sold as house pets. As the idyllic fantasy of having an exotic animal at home turns into a much different reality, these magnificent animals must be rescued from incapable owners, given up at local shelters, or confiscated by animal control agencies.
As illegal pets they are not eligible to be adopted out, therefore the law demands that they are destroyed soon after being abandoned or confiscated. This means that the window to save them is usually small. They are not eligible to be re-introduced into the wild since they never learned to hunt and are too accustomed to humans. So they are bound to spend the rest of their lives among us.
Soon after coming to live at Wolf Connection, they are physically and emotionally rehabilitated and trained to become ambassadors in service of youth … We like to think of them as agent for change and emissaries from their sister and brothers in the wild.
How is the website an intricate part of the experiential program?
wolfconnectionpack.org was designed as a social network with the purpose of providing a cyber space to give continuity and remote learning opportunities to youth doing through, or planning on attending, our program.
On a broader sense, the online community also allows young men and women across the world to connect, offering a place to share their learning experiences and growth.
On the site, members can post discussions and blogs, upload pictures and videos, form affinity groups, participate in official Wolf Connection events, and stay informed of the latest programs, calendar or activities and whereabouts of the pack.
Wolfconnectionpack.org is a secure and safe on-line environment. Every new member must approved by Wolf Connection staff, and the discussions related to the education programs and interventions are by invitation only which means that only those directly involved are able to see posts and participate.
Wolfconnectionpack,org provides an excellent follow up tool to help youth stay connected and further the progress that was initiated working with the wolves on site.
Where are you located?
The Wolf Connection Ranch in Acton, CA
The pack has found its home in the rural town of Acton, CA … 30 acres of beautiful woodland and high desert mountains, including a year-round stream. The facility is strategically located within an hour drive from Los Angeles and 30 minutes from Lancaster and Santa Clarita. It offers a magnificent environment to our wolves and wolfdogs, and endless possibilities to all the young men and women whose minds, hearts, and spirits are touched by them.
A typical day at Wolf Connection Ranch is beautifully enriched by a perfect balance of humans and animals that come together to make a difference in the community and send a message of interdependence, collaboration, love and compassion to the world. Every day, the wolves and wolfdogs are cared for, cleaned, groomed, exercised, socialized, and trained with the outmost dedication by our staff and volunteers. In return, the animals bring forth their joy, lightness, presence, and unconditional loving hearts and wisdom.