While I was visiting in Tennessee, we went to an amazing place high up in the mountains at Kingsport. Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium is an adventure where you could spend all day. http://www.baysmountain.com/ We were there in the afternoon and lots of the animals were out and about. The most interesting to me were bobcats and gray wolves, mostly since those are animals I never get to observe.
The park sits in surroundings that are natural for these animals, and they are confined, but each animal group has large mountainous areas to roam thru, with the same kinds of conditions they would be in in the wild. There are large wooden beams up around the fencing to prevent something like a tree falling on the fence and bringing it down, so the animals can’t escape. There were two high fences between us and the wolves, so we were able to see them quite close up and still be safe.
Here several of the wolves got into a tussle with each other and it was all beautiful to see.
The ranger came and talked to the group of us who were watching the wolves. He told us a lot about them, and wanted us to understand how really wild they are; that they recognize the rangers as the people who feed them, but they are not tame. When rangers need to enter their area for any reason, four of them go in at the same time, and are watching the wolf pack’s collective body language and are careful of their own body language. Some days it doesn’t seem like a good day to be going in there, so they leave and go another day.
Then somebody in the group asked the ranger if he could get them to howl. He said he could try, and explained how. He would need to disappear for a few minutes. He went out of sight and waited a few minutes, and then he began to howl. He had explained that if they heard howling off in the distance, they would think it was one of their own calling out, and might return the call, or maybe they wouldn’t.
But they did. He howled, and several of them answered, and it went back and forth several times. It was wonderful to be so close to them and then hear them howling.
The whole place is beautiful and it was all a wonderful experience. My friends who I went there with had been there before and said sometimes the animals aren’t out of their dens so you can’t see them. But this time they got to see most of them, and we heard wolves howling from just a short distance away. Amazing.