Meet Akela – The Alpha Wolf
This is Akela – the alpha female of the river wolf pack at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. The discovery center is a nice place to visit while you up in that area and a good place to learn about bears and wolves. I made it part of my itinerary as I love wolves but hadn’t had an opportunity to get any good wolf shots as the San Diego zoo rarely has a wolf on display. You can get a ticket to the center for $10 (which goes to the non-profit which runs the center) and it is good for two days. I went when I first arrived in West Yellowstone (just to check the place out) but the wolves were mostly sleeping at that time. I went back later that evening for the 7:00PM scheduled feeding of the River Pack and was able to get some good photos of the pack interactions.
As the caption says, Akela is the Alpha purely because of her attitude. She is the only female and the smallest of the wolves in the pack but the guides told us there is no question about who is “the boss”. I should also say that all of the wolves in this center were born in captivity – at a facility who raises and provides wolves to the movies and TV. The four wolves in this pack were all bought to the center as youngsters. They also told us that it was very easy to distinguish between wolves born in captivity vs being captured later on – the wolves born in the wild never get used to the fences and they pace the fence lines constantly looking for a way out. The wolves born in captivity always seem much better adjusted and happy. While the habitat that these wolves inhabit is not overly large, they did seem to be happy as they played and interacted together.