An old wolf

With silver-frosted muzzle and eyes hazy with age, an old wolf lives out his days captive to the benevolence of his more robust packmates.

At sixteen or so, this one was among the oldest of the wolves at the Lakota Preserve and had been ousted from his position as Alpha in another pack. The fight very nearly killed him, or would have, had it not been for his caretakers who’d had his throat sewn back together and his blinded eye tended to. He was relocated to a different pen with another, gentler, pack where he’s been accepted in his new submissive role.

Despite his submissiveness with the other members of the pack, he was quite confident and unaffraid with people, yet tame enough to be hand fed biscuits through the fence.

Diminished though they may be by captivity and I believe they must be, this is the wolf – the symbol of wildness for many. In them we see something unrestrained and noble, something ancient and fear-inducing. Much of that mystery is reduced, I think, by the high chain link separating us, but some is still there in the aloofness they carry with them, even as they submit themselves to our wide eyes.

6 thoughts on “An old wolf”

  1. There is something sad in the spectre of a beaten wolf. Of course, in the wild, the wolf would have been driven out and likely would not have survived such a fight.

  2. Blankfrank: Hi and thanks.

    KGMom: (laugh) I’d started out on a mini-rant to the opposite idea… that maybe he’d have been driving away before the fight had happened, maybe found a new pack on his own, had he been living in the wild. I wonder if living in such confined spaces and unnatural conditions doesn’t cause extra aggresiveness?

  3. Out here in Kansas City there is a coyote kept in a clean pen at a nature center. You can tell by watching it pace its cage that it doesn’t belong there, but according to the sign on the wall, it was no longer able to survive in the wild for some reason. Such intersections between human reflection and natural wildness can be awe inspiring or saddening, as you point out.

  4. I know I’ve told you this a million times, but my gosh, your writing is like poetry.

    I’ve never been a fan of zoos or anyplace where wild animals are held captive, yet the places where they’re kept when they can’t live in the wild don’t bother me as much. Still, it must’ve been sad to see that old battle-scarred veteran.

  5. Pablo: Yeah… even though they’re *properly* cared for, not being free does something awful to them, I guess.

    Delia: I don’t know exactly what the story is with the ones there… I think probably they came from other zoos or people who *shudder* breed wolves as pets.

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