By Ashley Atkins
This holiday season while families gather and write down their Christmas lists, Rachel Broom, director of development at the Endangered Wolf Center (6750, Tyson Valley Rd, Eureka) will continue her search for transportation for the 42 wolves, wild dogs, and foxes that call the center home.
Located on 63 acres in west St. Louis County, the center’s Wheels for Wolves campaign seeks monetary donations to raise money for vehicles to transport the animals to the Saint Louis Zoo for medical treatment and check ups. The center is also accepting donated vans, trucks, and golf carts for use on the center’s property.
The roots of the Endangered Wolf Center date back four decades when Marlon Perkins, a former director of the Saint Louis Zoo and host of the Emmy-nominated television show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, founded the organization with his wife, Carol.
“Through travel and retirement, the Perkins realized that if they did not do something to protect the Red wolf or Mexican gray wolf then they would become extinct. That is why they joined with other scientists and friends and formed the center in 1971,” Broom says.
The center, which has ties to the United States Fish and Wildlife Services, is able to stay afloat financially through corporate funding, foundation grants, and a gift shop. It also depends heavily on the generosity of its committed members.
“We have wonderful collaborators and volunteers,” says Broom. “Washington University helps provide the perfect environment for our animals to breed properly. The Saint Louis Zoo provides vet care service and Mazuri Exotic Canine Diet provides a lot of the chow for the animals.”
The center is different from a zoo, in that its goal is to breed animals for the purpose of reintroducing them into the wild.
“If they weren’t here, they would be gone off the planet,” says Broom of the center’s Mexican gray wolves, Red wolves, Maned wolves, Swift foxes and African wild dogs. “We are their alternative to extinction.”
Since the release of its first Mexican gray wolf in 1998, the center has reintroduced 100 of the species back into the wild along the New Mexico and Arizona border. Recognized as the most endangered mammal in North America, only fifty Mexican gray wolves exist within the wild.
The Red wolf, the second most-endangered wolf in the wild, is reintroduced in North Carolina, while the Swift fox is re-introduced in south-central Canada. The center is currently working on a release program for African Wild Dogs and Maned Wolves.
Regina Mossotti, director of animal care and conservation at the wolf center, says wolves benefit the plant life of their surroundings, as wolves prey on elk and other large mammals that can over consume the flora of their environments.
“The No. 1 reason these animals are in jeopardy is human a result of human action; therefore we have to take responsibility to help them make a comeback,” says Broom.
You can help Broom achieve that goal this holiday season by gift of cash, time, or a donated vehicle. The Endangered Wolf Center seeks volunteers from all professional backgrounds, ranging from maintenance to marketing. The list is endless, says Broom.