In the News
GEORGETOWN -- Seeing wolves run almost free brought tears to the eyes of some animal lovers who came Wednesday to see five of the wild animals moved from a cramped pen to a half-acre outdoor enclosure.
'They finally get to run, they're not in a cage any more,' said Bonne Bachtell, a volunteer at Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary in the Choppee community of Georgetown County.
'They're almost smiling,' she said as she watched the five 6-month-old wolves run almost endlessly around their open, wooded, new space.
The enclosure is expected to be their home for the rest of their lives. They cannot be released into the wild because they probably would not know how to take care of themselves, and they have a tiny mixture of domestic dog in them.
The animal sanctuary, also known as S.C.-CARES, got the wolves as littermate pups from a closed zoo and put them in a 10-by-10 pen. Later, sanctuary directors Skip Yeager and Cindy Hedrick and their volunteers had to enlarge the pen, but as the wolves grew, it became obvious they needed a much bigger space.
Yeager and volunteers got most of the materials for the half-acre fence donated, and it took about a month to build it. It's too high for the wolves to get out, and is also rigged so they can't dig under it, Hedrick said.
The crew had planned to herd all the wolves into a cage of fencing, then drag the fencing with the animals moving along inside it about 200 feet to the new enclosure. But they had to change their plans slightly.
It was not possible just to leash the animals and guide them to their new home, or put them in dog carriers, Hedrick said.
'They are terrified of people. Their instincts tell them to be afraid of people and they are,' she said.
The wolves buck and bite if they feel threatened and they demonstrated that when the crew of Yeager and his helpers started trying to herd them into the fencing.
One or two of the animals jumped up and hurled themselves against the fencing, startling the volunteers. So they decided against trying to move all five of them at once.
They managed to get two of the wolves into the fencing and walked it over to the new enclosure while the animals paced and jumped nervously inside.
'You'll like it when you get there,' Yeager told them. 'I wish there was a way to communicate that to them.'
The wolves could not be calmed, but once at the new enclosure, Duchess shot out immediately to explore her new home. Calypso, usually one of the bosses or alpha wolves, hung back a few moments, then ran after her littermate.
'Go, girl!' Hedrick yelled after her, while the volunteers applauded.
The other three wolves, Captain Jack, Anna Marie and Cria could see where their siblings went but were not eager to follow. They also seemed afraid of what was happening, and one almost got away as a corner of the cage went over a depression in the ground and she quickly tried to edge her head under the fence.
It only took a few minutes for them to get to their new quarters, run out to meet their littermates and join them in running around the enclosure.
'Oh, they look so good,' Hedrick said.
The next task is to get an artificial concrete cave made for the animals, Yeager said.
But the wolves aren't the only creatures at the sanctuary.
During the wolf-moving, a cockatoo named Charlie watched the goings-on from a nearby tree and cawed, while Morocco the goat trotted alongside the cage.
Barbara Bush cradled Danielle, a 3-year-old opossum. At nearby enclosures were foxes and two deer.
A special building houses an owl. Inside another building were about 30 birds, some iguanas, a rare turtle, and 24 laboratory rats saved from euthanasia this week.
Later Wednesday, the sanctuary was expecting to receive at least one more goat that needed a new home. Yeager and Hedrick
want a goat for Morocco, whose companion was run over and killed by a truck a few days ago when equipment for the fence was being brought in.
Morocco is lost and lonely without his pal Mario, Hedrick said.
Yeager and Hedrick support themselves and their 24-acre sanctuary with a treat shop called Sweetie's and a gift shop called The Ark on Front Street in Georgetown. They also depend on the volunteers and donations.
They were feeding the wolves dog food, but found that it disagreed with their digestive systems. Now the wolves live on donated outdated fresh meat from a grocery store and a butcher shop.
Want to visit?
The Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary is open for visits by appointment and also welcomes school groups. For information, call 546-7893.