A Visit to Wolf Park in Tippecanoe County
By Bob Burchfield, Editor
DISCLOSURE NOTICE: Wolf Park provided free admission in exchange for the promotional consideration.
Last year I took my granddaughter to the Indiana State Fair. We were over on the north side of the fairgrounds when we passed a vendor’s tent loaded with T-shirts, leather gear, and so forth. While browsing in this vendor’s tent, my granddaughter found a beautiful T-shirt depicting pictures of wolves. I found out that day how much she loves wolves (I had no idea previously). Of course, she got to take that T-shirt home with her. That’s what grandparents are good for, eh?
Ever since, she has patiently awaited the day that she could visit the wolves at Wolf Park near Lafayette, Indiana. I had no idea we even had such an attraction in Indiana until about 2-3 years ago when a mutual acquaintance in Tippecanoe County put me in contact with the publicity manager at Wolf Park. Ever since, she has sent press releases and news articles that I’ve published on our Web site and here in our WordPress blog. But I’d never visited, simply because it’s not on my beaten path.
Finally I got some time last Friday, and so away we went for the 95-mile drive with my daughter and granddaughter and her best friend to see the wolves at Wolf Park, 4004 East County Road 800 North, Battle Ground, Indiana. What a cool experience! Simple pleasures are the best.
Wolf Park offers Howl Night every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm during the summer (Saturdays only year round). I knew we were in for a treat when we pulled up to the main gate about 7 pm. Gates open at 7:15 pm. While waiting in a line of cars at the gate, two small fawns (deer) ran across the road in front of our car and scampered across the adjacent corn field, pausing periodically to check out the visitors. Immediately we were hooked.
When the gates opened, we drove into the parking lot and parked directly in front of the gift shop, which also serves as the entrance and exit to the compound. Upon entering the compound, we found the bleachers and viewing area for the wolf enclosure, the living areas for the foxes and coyotes, a small farm pond, and an idyllic setting in a natural habitat. So close to home, yet so different from the concrete jungle of the big city!
I was privileged to be allowed to shoot photographs from an open window in a building adjacent to the bleachers. This enabled me to get some pretty good shots of the wolves without having to shoot through the chain link fence (see photos below). I wish I could have gotten some shots of the cute baby foxes that are only a few weeks old, but the pictures I took through the fence were no good. My apologies.
Wolf Park kind of reminded me of a visit to the dolphins pavilion at the Indianapolis Zoo. You know how that goes: the animals go through their paces while the staff members explain the history and habits of the animals to the audience. That’s the setup for Howl Night at Wolf Park, too. The staff members took a number of questions from the audience and amply demonstrated their experience, knowledge and understanding of the wolves. It was interesting and educational. Example: “What do the wolves eat?” Answer: Primarily some 300 deer carcasses collected annually from the local area!
On this evening, the wolves in the main enclosure weren’t particularly in a howling mood, apparently, but the best and most interesting part of the evening came when the audience of some 150-200 people was instructed on how to get the wolves to howl. And then, as the audience howled in unison, we heard the coyotes and wolves replying from a distance in other parts of the park. That was pretty cool.
Your kids will enjoy it, I believe: they can get up within about five feet of the wolves, separated by two fences and a free zone. The gift shop has lots of items and souvenirs.
Wolf Park receives no government assistance and operates solely on the contributions, donations and purchases of its members and visitors. Admission is $8, children ages 6-13 are $6, and under 6 admitted free. From Indianapolis, take I-65 to Exit 178 just north of Lafayette, go east to County Road 900 East, then south to the railroad tracks. Turn right on the other side of the tracks and follow the signs to Wolf Park.
To cap off the day, while headed home, we stopped at the Whitestown exit (I-65 Exit 130) for the call of Mother Nature about 10:15 pm. Upon re-entering the highway, a coyote ran across the southbound onramp right in front of our car! I haven’t seen a wild coyote in ages, but we had just been discussing this very topic a couple of hours earlier at the park. For the girls it was the perfect ending to an enjoyable evening.
For more information, visit http://wolfpark.org/, or call 765-567-2265.
ABOVE: All photos Copyright (c) 2013, AroundIndy.com, LLC. All rights reserved.