Wolf Park Wolves | Gray Wolf PortraitWolf Park Wolves | a 7 Image Story  Although I rarely capture images of captive wild animals, Wolf Park is an exception.  It maintains a near wild environment for their wolf pack while providing a wild canid research and education center.  Wolf Park is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to behavioral research, education, and conservation.  They aid researchers as well as offer tours and seminars to their visitors.  For the photog, they offer wolf photography classes and photo shoots several times a year.  These images were captured in a spring photo class and shoot.  Someday, I’d like to go back in the winter when snow covers the ground.

The wolves at Wolf Park are socialized.  They are not afraid of the public and will interact in front of visitors. They are better research animals, maintenance and medical care is easier, and their lives are enriched by allowing them to walk and run in multiple environments including their seven acre natural enclosure.  The socialization process starts when the pups are only 12-14 days old.  It’s a 24/7-365 process involving both men and woman as well as visits from adult wolves.  Pups are bottle raised from a very early age and their environment is kept very stable.  People come to them; not visa versa.  Socialization is integrated into their lives and continues essentially for their entire life at Wolf Park.  Although they are socialized from birth, they still have wolf instincts.  The socialization process is very detailed and time consuming.  For more information, visit Wolf Park’s website.

Wolf Park Wolves | Wet WolfIncluded in the photo classes and photo shoots, is required instruction on safely interacting with the wolves and general behavior while in the wolf enclosure.  The large enclosure includes a lake, woodlands, and prairie.  Yes, accompanied by Wolf Park staff, you can get in the wolf enclosure to capture images.  The wolves are right next to you.  Obviously, certain restrictions apply.  Flash is permitted. Tripods are discouraged.  Camera bags and tripods covered in foam padding are not allowed in the enclosure.  Photo sessions are held in most weather, including rain or snow.  For more detailed information, see the Photography Page on Wolf Park’s website.

Wolves make beautiful subjects for photographs.  The gray wolf ranges in color from all white to solid black.  Many wolves are more like a taupe color with the guard hairs sometimes banded with black, white, gold and brown.  Wolves have two layers of fur.  The outer or guard layer is made up of long colored hairs that shed water and snow.  The inner layer is thick gray fur that traps air, insulating the wolf; keeping it warm in sub-zero temperatures.  In warmer weather, they shed the inner layer.  Their eye color ranges from amber/brown or gold to hues of brown, gray, yellow, and green.

The experience of capturing these images was amazing.  It’s an creditable experience, which is virtually impossible in the wild.  The enclosure is so big, the class had to follow the wolves as they moved from one area to the next.  One time, I was capturing an image of a wolf twenty yards away when another came up from behind me and touched my right arm, just before the click.  Wow.  After I settled down, I had to make another few clicks.  Even though they are accustomed to people and sometimes seem like they are posing for the shot, other times they just wrestle and play, as though we were not there at all.  The wolves clearly feel at home.



Wolves communicate in a variety of ways including body postures, gestures, and sounds.  Sounds may include whimpers, whines, growls, barks, and, of course, the howl.  The meaning of these postures and sounds vary with the context in which they were made.  Their howl, which may be heard several miles away, may be a solo, a duet, or a chorus.  Each type of howl gets used for different reasons.  For more detailed information on wolves, go to the wolves information page on Wolf Park’s website. 

Each image will be posted individually this week with a bit more narrative under category Wolf Park Wolves.

Click any image below for a slide show!

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