This is the 30th edition of my series of articles describing things to do with children in the Naples, Florida area. If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important that your priority remains your children and that means arranging fun, educational activities.
Just east of 951 and just off Pine Ridge road is a typical looking house in the estates…with a not-so-typical back yard. It’s the Shy Wolf Sanctuary.
The Shy Wolf Sanctuary is a great change of pace from the usual, perfectly manicured Naples experience.
In 1993, Nancy and Kent Smith sheltered their first exotic animal, a three legged leopard named Moondance. Shortly thereafter, they began sheltering 4 wolf cubs. Today there are over 50 sheltered animals on the property.
Exotic animals are subject to special regulations wherein if an exotic animal goes to a dog pound, they are likely to be destroyed. The Shy Wolf Sanctuary steps in and offers to shelter these animals pursuant to the stringent Florida wildlife laws.
As the name implies, most of the animals on display are wolves or dogs with significant wolf blood. Specifically, they are “wolf dogs” that people have bought only to find that the wolf portion of the dog has made them impossible to domesticate. The Shy Wolf Sanctuary provides an atmosphere where the wolf dogs are safe from themselves and others. The Shy Wolf Sanctuary has even examined the wolf dogs’ DNA to determine how much of a wolf each one is. Not surprisingly, the more wolf = the less friendly.
The Shy Wolf Sanctuary accepts visitors by appointment. You must email the Shy Wolf Sanctuary and wait on their response. It may take months to make an appointment as they only offer tours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The visit is a guided tour that lasts two hours. The guests are introduced to all of the animals at a level commensurate with the safety of the animal. A panther can be seen through a metal fence. Wolves can be petted through a fence. Some wolf dogs can be petted and even held without a fence between the wolf dog and the guest.
This two-hour tour requires a lot of patience. The grounds are small and the animals are not all active. Your child must be very patient or be extremely fascinated by animals for this tour to be a success.
Only children seven and older are allowed on the tour. Food is not allowed on the tour (wolf dogs will steal food).
In addition to eponymous wolves, there is a panther, a bobcat, a fennec fox, grey foxes, prairie dogs, gopher tortoises, a new guinea singing dog, and raccoons.
The Shy Wolf Sanctuary is fully staffed by a team of volunteers. For me, this was the best part. Having my children exposed to people who are passionate about something positive where they would devote their free time to helpless and not-so-easy-to-love animals.
At the end of the tour, you’ll be asked to make a donation to the shy wolf sanctuary. Feeding all of these animals the raw meat they need to stay healthy is not cheap.
The Shy Wolf Sanctuary is just seven miles from my Naples, Florida family law firm. Directions below: