Visiting with Wolves in Minnesota

Discussion in 'Other U.S. Destinations' started by MSPeconomist, Jul 28, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    A few weekends ago I visited a small independent zoo in the Minneapolis suburbs that focuses on wolves. It's the Wildlife Science Center and you might recognize the name from some Animal Planet shows featuring the place and its staff such as IIRC Growing Up Wolf.

    The place is located in the far northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, normally about ten miles west of the Forest Lake exit of I-35, but a bridge is closed for construction so that one must plot an alternative route. I would allow about an hour from either downtown. Realistically this place requires a car. There's free parking but the lot is barely paved, so it might be better to park around the sort of traffic circle around a building before you turn left following the signs toward the Wildlife Science Center itself. To find it from County Road 18, look for an entrance on the north side of the road with old concrete posts and an iron canopy with words across the top of the entrance that initially made me think it was a private hunting camp.:eek: I drove back and forth three times before figuring out that this was the entrance. It's really located on land inside some state forest, but is not state funded.

    Tours are given every Saturday, regardless of weather, at 11 am and 1 pm. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for kids. Credit cards are accepted, and also for the gift shop.You are encouraged to bring dogs (well behaved and on leash). The tour lasts about 90 minutes and is great for all ages.

    After the tour you can hang around where the tour ends, but you cannot roam around the property or revisit enclosures from the beginning of the tour.The gift shop and some animal displays, including wolf pelts to feel, are available before and after the tour. There are toilet facilities in the gift shop area; I didn't notice any place to buy snacks or beverages. Everything (except maybe the parking lot due to its poor condition) is wheelchair accessible.

    My guide seemed to be a student intern specializing in some area of biology. She was personable and knowledgeable; don't expect Peggy from the Animal Planet show, although you might see some of her own dogs.

    The focus is on different wolf varieties (I don't think they're different species) that live in packs in various large compounds. The wolves come up to the fence and visitors are kept about three feet from the fence. Many of these wolves were hand raised for part of their puppyhoods and are friendly and curious about human visitors. They especially like to come up to see any dogs in the group, hence people are really encouraged to bring dogs on the tour.:) (I was told that the new wolf puppies are first put on display typically around late August.)There are other animals too, such as bear, cougars, linx, and foxes but the wolves are the stars.

    I was totally charmed and this place doesn't seem to be very well known. AFAIK it's not listed in AAA or in the various guide brochures for the area.

    There's also an International Wolf Center in Ely in northern Minnesota (north of Duluth toward the Boundary Waters area, not along Lake Superior). I've never been there. Colored information leaflets with a discount coupon are easy to find at MSP airport and in MN hotels.
    SC Flier likes this.
  2. Chamonix
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    Chamonix Silver Member

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    Wow, that is very interesting they encourage visitors to bring dogs! I recently heard there's a new wolf sanctuary just outside St Louis...would be very excited to take my dog there if they also allow it.

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