Calling all animal lovers!
If you’ve ever dreamed of close encounters with wolves—but not the scary kind—you’ll love a visit to the Predators of the Heart Sanctuary in Washington state.
Not only will you be able to learn everything there is to know about these magnificent predators, a visit includes a walk with them in the woods and you’ll be able to rub their tummies, scratch them behind the ears, and just cuddle and chill with them. Oh, and of course you can take a selfie or two with your new furry friends.
The Heart Sanctuary is located in Anacortes, Washington, just north of Seattle near the Canadian border, making it easy for both Americans and Canadians to experience getting up close and personal with these wolves. However, don’t just pitch a tent nearby as you’ll find yourself disappointed and turned away—entry is strictly by booking through Airbnb and, no surprise, there’s a waiting list.
According to Clive Wynne, professor of psychology at Arizona State University and author of Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You, wild wolves are not generally friendly towards humans, as those at the Sanctuary are. Wynne says, ”a wild animal can, with skill and patience, be raised to be willing to react in a friendly way towards humans.”
“People should always do some due diligence before taking a sanctuary’s word for it that their animals are harmless,” the professor advised.
On the question of the global wolf population status, Wynne confirmed that “wolves do OK in parts of the world where the human population is very sparse: places like Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. But in most parts of the globe with a significant human population, wolves are in a difficult situation and will need continuous protection from and by people.”
The sanctuary usually offers two guided tours a day, from Monday to Saturday, with Sundays set aside as a day of rest for the wolves. You can make your booking through Airbnb for approximately $200 USD per person. There is a waiting list so check prices and available dates here. The sanctuary has a strict age restriction of 18+ with no exceptions to this rule.
Wolves are not the only predators living in the Heart Sanctuary. Foxes, cougars, reptiles, and birds of prey also call it home, as do some other, non-predatory rescue animals.
A long time ago, there were a couple of safety concerns in the area when a wolf escaped its enclosure and ended up on a neighbor’s property and, in another case, a hiker and his dog took the wrong path and ended up on the sanctuary’s private property. Unfortunately the hiker’s dog lost its life when two wolves attacked it. The city improved signage and also tried to mark the trail boundary between the forest lands and Predators of the Heart, including creating a natural barrier of logs and branches between the properties and putting up an “approaching private property” sign.
The Predators of the Heart Sanctuary, a non-profit organization, covers 10 acres and was opened in 1998 by owner Dave Coleburn. The organization upholds very strict standards when it comes to protecting the animals in its care.
The sanctuary’s mission states:
“Our goal is to educate children about wildlife, not only to teach the facts about the animals but to use an approach that leads to an appreciation, affection, compassion and respect for these living creatures—to make it clear that an animal’s value is not determined by its similarity or services to humans.”
“Our purpose is to develop caring and concern for the animals. Our aim is to help open the eyes of their hearts to see that all nature is interconnected and realize that apart from it we cannot survive. We also serve as a sanctuary for animals that cannot be reintroduced to the wild and need a safe and healthy environment to live out the remainder of their lives.”