The snow lay all around her and it was eerily silent. Then, she stopped and swung her head to look over her shoulder. Silence. She swore she heard a muted crunch of stealthy footsteps coming from the woods.
Then, a large shape loomed. And then another as they came over the rise. Her heart thudded as the wolves loped towards her, their hot breath steaming in the wind.
Danielle from Colorado had always loved wildlife, especially canids. From the time she was a young girl, she dreamed about meeting a wolf face-to-face. She was obsessed with the creatures, and her obsession only grew.
Now, as an adult, she set out to live her fantasy. But she never knew that these wolves would show her their true nature.
Danielle was nervous when she signed up to volunteer at Colorado Wolf And Wildlife Center. She had no idea what to expect, but more than anything, she wanted to meet a wolf. And this was a way to give back and fulfill her lifelong dream.
But the work she was assigned at first was nothing like she had anticipated.
At first, Danielle had to perform tasks around the center that were unpleasant. She had to carve up enormous racks of raw meat by hand, as well as get her hands dirty cleaning toilet tanks.
But when would she finally be able to see a wolf up-close? Unbeknown to Danielle, it was all about to become a little too real.
Wolves are social pack animals, nevertheless, a large wolf can bite with a pressure of around 600lb per square inch — twice the strength of a German Shepard or Pit Bull.
Wolves are also highly intelligent and are known for their clever ways of outwitting their prey. Danielle was about to witness just how smart these creatures could be.
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
The Colorado Wolf And Wildlife Center is near the town of Divide and includes an education amphitheater, a visitor center, as well as walking trails.
The 35-acre plot also has a number of enclosures for wolves and wolf-hybrids, who can be visited under the strict supervision of a guide. The center was built with a very specific purpose in mind.
Big Bad Wolf
The center hoped to educate people about the misunderstood animals, who have long been ostracized and feared by mankind. The Grey Wolf’s population is in steep decline due to hunting, deforestation, and lack of understanding.
Throughout history, words like “big”, “bad”, and vicious have often been associated with wolves. But Danielle wanted to prove everyone wrong.
Into The Wild
One day, Danielle was told by a senior staff member that the time had finally arrived. Her heart pounded with excitement and her hands shook — she was about to come face-to-face with a wolf.
The guide led her out the gate and away from the visitor’s center, and then motioned her to follow. But nobody could have anticipated the beasts’ reaction to the girl imposing on their territory.
Danielle walked into the snow with nothing between her and the wolves but the vast wilderness. The snow deadened every sound, and all was strangely quiet. She was beginning to rethink her decision, but it was too late to go back now.
Her footsteps left prints on the ground, but otherwise, there was nothing to see but white and wood. And then she saw them, great hulking shapes coming over the rise.
As the enormous creatures drew closer, Danielle soon realized it was the notorious pair of wolves she had heard about, Kekoa and Sakara, They had caught sight of her and her friend in the woods. The larger of the two, Kekoa, was on high-alert.
His ears were pricked forward in her direction as he crept closer. And then, he was joined by two strangers.
Two more wolves that Danielle didn’t recognize had joined the pair. Sakara, the female, was being much more cautious than the others. She stayed behind Kekoa, with her gaze fixed on Danielle through the trees. But Danielle had no idea how to react to these beasts. There was snow everywhere, and the pair knew no one else was around.
The wolves circled and grew nearer. Danielle and her friend were now completely trapped.
The wolf approached her cautiously and was then followed by his sister, Sakara. Danielle’s heart skipped a beat — the beasts were colossal.
Then, something inside her told her to sit down in the snow and wait for them to come to her. But as they drew nearer, the female wolf took the lead and did something nobody expected.
The wolf, Sakara, very slowly lowered her face to Danielle’s. Then, she sniffed her. Suddenly, her great pink tongue darted out of her mouth as she leaned unnervingly close to Danielle.
Soon after the other wolves, led by Kekoa, followed his sister’s lead to inspect the new human, sitting absolutely still in the snow. Now, Sakara was almost on top of her.
Too Close For Comfort
Sakara began to lick her face, but Danielle knew that she had to remain absolutely still and let her do what she wanted. One wrong move could prove to be the biggest mistake she’d ever make. The wolf’s teeth grazed her neck as Daniella tried to move her head upward, away from Sakura’s intense gaze.
But did the massive wolf think she was food or friend? She’d soon find out.
Getting Out Of Hand
As if taking their cue from Sakura, the other wolves and Kekoa — the largest of the three — began to sniff Danielle and paw her with their massive claws. Growing bolder by the minute, they snapped at each other, as if each wolf was fighting for the right to be the first to inspect this new intruder in their woods.
They jumped on Danielle’s back and snarled, but she had to keep her composure — even though her fear threatened to engulf her.
This particular pair of wolves, Kekoa and Sakura, were siblings who had been adopted together in hopes that they would be a teaching tool to educate the community. “They were both adopted from a facility in Florida called Seacrest Wolf Preserve,” Michelle Smith from the center explained.
But unfortunately, this didn’t go according to plan for very long.
“We had hoped they would be ambassadors. But sadly, like most wolves and high-content wolf dogs, once they reached maturity they became very shy and ‘retired’ at the ripe old age of two,” Michelle added.
So now the wolves live in an enormous enclosure, where they can lead happy lives away from the hunters that pose them such danger. But the way the pair of wolves had reacted to Danielle was unprecedented.
Kekoa also proceeded to lick Danielle’s face, although much more thoroughly than his sister. Then, the massive wolf rolled over onto his back in a display of complete submission and trust.
Danielle was taken aback, but then it dawned on her exactly what he wanted. He wanted belly scratches — just like a pet dog!
After the encounter, Darlene and the rest of the people at the center decided they wanted Danielle to meet the wolves every day. They had plans to send Danielle back into the woods the very next day to see if she would be so lucky a second time.
Danielle made her way back to the woods the very next day, and everyone was excited to see what happened. Amazingly, the volunteer was accepted into the pack instantly.
A Deep Bond
Danielle’s instant bond with the wolves at the center is extraordinary — and the other staff was thrilled! They promptly asked her to continue her work at the center, and she has now been working closely with the wolves for several years.
She has developed a deep connection with Kekoa — and Danielle and the wolves couldn’t be happier.
Part Of The Pack
“I have always had a passion for nature and animals,” Danielle revealed on the center’s website. “These wolves have my heart and I am honored to have been accepted into their pack.”
Since meeting Danielle, Kekoa “loves to greet visitors with wolf kisses,” the center said on its website.
Michelle adds, “since he was raised by people and bottle-fed from the time he was born, he is very well socialized, meaning he enjoys the company of people.” But he loves nobody more than Danielle.
The pair can often be seen together at the sanctuary, where he will eagerly follow her around and enjoy all her attention. But has the center managed to send out the message they set out to?
“This is not the same as domesticated or tame,” Smith added. “He is still a ‘wild’ animal, and he does tend to show it when he is around his sister. A wolf in the wild would not act this way.”
But people were awed by the wolf and fearless Danielle, and the video quickly went viral.
A New Perspective
The video of Danielle’s interaction with the wolves at the sanctuary has touched the hearts of thousands — The video exploded on the sanctuary’s Facebook page.
Many people are just not aware that a wolf can display such affection towards a human. This has made people think of wolves in a whole new light.
Wolves are in danger of becoming extinct because of humans’ ignorance. They are hunted and blamed for the disappearance of livestock, even though wolves only count for about 1% of these, and they have been depicted throughout the ages as fearsome creatures.
In fact, wolves have highly evolved and complex social systems and they always look out for members of their pack. Humans could still learn a thing or two from wolves!
But one man learned about wolves the hard way…
The Stalk Of A Lifetime
John had no idea the risk he was walking into. Trying to approach a trapped animal is never easy. Let alone a trapped predator. The wolf did not appreciate the human inching toward it. Vehemently, it raged against the trap holding it back, trying desperately to back away from the human.
But John was determined. He had to reach the wolf. But when he finally got close enough to the animal, he did something completely uncharacteristic.
The Hunter Within
John Oens was a typical outdoorsy kind of guy. He enjoyed nature and spending time out in the wild. He knew his way around the forest better than most. But no time spent outdoors would prepare him for one encounter made in the wild.
John had volunteered to help catch and relocate coyotes who were causing a problem within the area. But John also had a hobby not many people agreed with.
Catch And Release
John was a hunter. He had competed in many various contests throughout the years. Though people did not support this, it did prepare him for the coyote project. However, one day, John came across no animal he had ever encountered before.
Stuck in a snare was a Timber Wolf. John knew he had to do something quickly. He was used to dealing with smaller coyotes in the area. Until that day arrived.
One By One
Recently, the Wisconsin area began to suffer from an overflux of coyotes. The animals would prey on surrounding livestock and domesticated animals alike. As such, John decided to act on the situation. Before the coyotes became too big a problem, he would correct it.
He and a few companions volunteered to captured and rerelease the pests. However, one day, their trap snared something larger than they had bargained for.
A Wolf In Plain Sight
One day, John saw something he had not anticipated to find. When he wandered out, sighting the various traps, he saw something odd. In one coyote trap, lay a lone wolf. The animal appeared to be a Timber Wolf. Though the Timber Wolf is the smallest of the breed, it still appeared gigantic to John.
However, he knew exactly what he needed to do. With his gun by his side, he proceeded to move toward the animal.
The Calm Before The Storm
Ironically enough, even though the animal was snared, it seemed to be completely calm. It lay completely still in the grass, as though it had just stopped for a breather. However, the heavy breathing of the wolf indicated distress. Suddenly, the calm demeanor changed when John approached. The wolf became feral.
It was as though it sensed John was a trapper. John knew he needed help. But when he reached out, the wolf grew more treacherous.
The moment the wolf began to react, John knew he needed help. As such, he called in back up. Not too long after his call, two of his companions arrived on the scene. However, the two men were also heavily armed. This caused the wolf to react even more pugnaciously than before.
John knew he could not face the animal in these conditions. Furthermore, this temperamental behavior wouldn’t let him achieve what he intended to with the wolf.
John Spies With His Little Eye
Suddenly, John saw something that would solve all of their issues. Lying blatantly in the woods, was a sparse piece of plywood. Why someone had decided to dump it there nobody knew. But John could not be more grateful at that moment for the spare timber.
Quickly, he picked up the board. He intended to use it as a shield to approach the trapped animal. But the wolf didn’t take kindly to this approach.
Foreign Objects In Stranger Places
As soon as the wolf saw John hold up the board, he began to go nuts. For some reason, the animal viewed the material as a real threat. Still, John attempted to approach. His friends stood close by, guns at the ready. But this just distressed the animal further. It had no idea what John’s intentions were.
However, the wolf had an angle of its own. And soon, the hunter became the hunted.
The Hunter Becomes The Hunted
As John closed in on the wolf, the animal began to react badly. It was certainly not ok with a human being so close to it. Furthermore, no one knew what John’s plan was when he finally reached the wolf. But if they did, his friends would’ve stopped him immediately.
But still, he approached the animal ever so cautiously. He knew he had one chance to get close enough. And when he finally did, things took a turn in the opposite direction.
The Wolf Breaks Free
As John approached the animal, he waited considerably between moves. Until he was close enough to touch the wolf’s trapped foot. He placed the board between himself and the wolf. On doing this, the wolf desperately tried to back up. Scared the animal would hurt itself, John stopped in his tracks. Slowly, the wolf became more at ease. Then, John did something remarkable.
He released the wolf from its trap! Then suddenly, the wolf launched.
Making A Run For It
In a flash, and before John could fathom what was happening, the wolf had pounced. However, it had bounded away in the opposite direction. As soon as John had released its paw from the trap, the wolf bounded away furiously.
John fell back in a state of sheer relief. A wave of adrenaline washed over his body at the thought of what could have been. But he feared for the animal’s well-being.
Not All That Meets The Eye
Remarkably, the wolf seemed to be perfectly fine. John observed the magnificent creature for a while. As it took to the woods, John looked for any tell-tale signs of distress. However, it appeared that the wolf was completely unharmed.
This left John in an even deeper state of relief. He felt relieved that the animal would easily be able to rejoin its pack. But something unexpected happened when John shared his story on social media.
A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
The whole time, John had been filming his encounter with the animal. He had captured every moment he had spent with the wolf. From stumbling across the trapped creature to its majestic release. But when he shared the video to YouTube, he was met with a resounding following.
Quickly, his video began to gain views. To this day, it has amassed six million views. But what became of the mountain man?
A Humbling Experience
The experience really had changed John. He was overwhelmed with how he had helped the animal in distress. He now plans on motivating people to do the same. His video is still being viewed to this day. Hopefully, other hunters will learn from his kindness.
John will forever remain the outdoorsman he always was. But now, he will do so in a more conscientious manner going forward.