Get ready for Wolf Day in Anchorage

Zookeeper Tim Lescher pets Ruby, a gray wolf, during a wolf walk at the Alaska Zoo. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage)
Zookeeper Tim Lescher pets Ruby, a gray wolf, during a wolf walk at the Alaska Zoo. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

On Saturday the Alaska Zoo is celebrating Wolf Day. It’s a chance for patrons to spend a few hours learning more about one of Alaska’s most iconic creatures, and even get up close to a few.

Though there will be a number of fun contests and games, the event fits into the zoo’s broader strategy for connecting Alaskans with wildlife.

Alaska’s zoo has five gray wolves, a sizable pack that is the envy of many peer institutions around the world, since the apex predators aren’t easy to come by.

On a recent afternoon, Education Director Stephanie Hartman pet an enormous alpha male named Denali while he munched on an apple. It’s was designed as a preview of what the zoo has in store this year for an event celebrating wild canines, including foxes, coyotes, and of course wolves.

“People get to come and they get to learn about what they would eat in the wild, what they eat here, they get to have a wolf presentation very similar to this, where they would be able to see a wolf very close,” Hartman said.

The four hour event is aimed at kids, with several wolf-based events and games, including a “wolf fact scavenger hunt” and a howling contest.

The overall goal fits within the zoo’s larger mission: fostering a relationship between Alaskans and the animals that share the state. In essence, trying to get buy-in from the next generation of ecological stewards.

“Having an event focused on different species throughout the year really engages people into those species so it helps them learn about them and really make that investment,” Hartman said.  “Hopefully if they know more about them, they fall in love with these guys and then want to conserve them for future generations.”

Wolf Day at the Alaska Zoo is this Saturday October 8th, from 12 to 4 p.m.