Farewell, Amani!


This story is by Kim Holt
secretary-treasurer, Wolf Recovery Foundation
It is with great sadness that we report the loss of Amani, one of the Elder Eight from the Sawtooth Pack at Wolf Education and Research Center. Amani, whose name means “To Speak the Truth”, (May 23, 1992  - November 7, 2005) with his whimsical face and soulful brown eyes will always be remembered by those of us who knew him as “Airplane Ears”, because of the way he carried them in a laid-out position. The staff of the Wolf Education and Research Center nurtured Amani and did everything possible, but he soon succumbed to cancer. The remaining wolves, Motomo, (the alpha and last of the Elder Eight) and the three “pups”, (Piyip, Motoki and Ayet) offspring of long-time alpha pair of Kamots and Chemukh are all doing well. This pack has been providing the public with up close looks at wolves for many years and we will always be indebted to them for the education they have offered. Dare I say they have opened eyes and changed lives! Once while doing some volunteer work, I was helping an elderly lady out the trail to their enclosure when they all started howling. We all know how a wolf’s howl can reverberate into the very depths of our soul, but this was the first time this lady had ever heard it. She, in fact, spoiled the moment for others on the tour because she kept repeating, “Oh my God, Oh, oh, my God.” However, who could get angry at one so taken by the moment? Perhaps we all remember our first wolf howl. The Sawtooth Pack provided me with my first live wolf howl and I have never been the same since.

As we all know, wild wolf management and wolf sanctuary management are two totally different issues, but the education provided by our sanctuaries to the public could indeed make the wild wolf situation much easier. We know it is wrong for these beautiful wild creatures to be enclosed, but I believe that after visiting one of these sanctuaries and learning about the true nature of the beast, Little Red Riding Hood hasn’t got a chance! Caring for these magnificent animals showed me firsthand the close family ties they form, as well as their gentle nature. It has often been said, “Humans are not on their menu.” This statement alone could provide greater success to our wildlife management by reducing fears, dispelling myths as well as developing an interest in wildlife by our youth to provide well informed and open minded wildlife managers of the future. We owe much to organizations like WERC, Mission Wolf, W.O.L.F., Wolf Haven, International Wolf Center and many more. They have allowed so many of us to feel firsthand the spirit of the wolf and to perhaps share the wildness in them that is in all of us.

So, we say, “Farewell, Amani.” Farewell to “He Who Speaks the Truth”; we will meet again! Thank you for your many years of allowing us to love you and observe the truly beautiful side of a powerful, majestic animal. We will always remember you. You will be missed.

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