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Arrived at Mission: Wolf on July 20, 2009
Lives with Raven
Illiamna (ill-e-aam-na) is a white male arctic wolf, named after a volcanic mountain and river in Alaska. He was born in the spring of 2009 at a Wildlife Safari Park named Bear Country in South Dakota. He did not come alone, with him were seven other puppies, three litter mates and four Canadian Grey wolf pups that grew up in the same enclosure at the park. Due to the failing economy the park had been unable to sell the two litters and contacted Mission: Wolf to take them. A volunteer drove many miles for the transport and at nearly four months old they arrived at the refuge in a horse trailer.
Magpie was just coming out of a false pregnancy and had no idea that she was to be a surrogate mom for eight big pups. She and Abe eagerly took them in and just as the pups started to settle into life, a virus hit them and we lost two of the grey wolves and one of the artics. Illiamna slowed down a bit, but as one of the bigger pups he shrugged off the virus himself and has grown to be the largest wolf living at the refuge. At eight months old he already weighed over 120 pounds.
For over a year he was raised by Abe and Magpie, as part of the ambassador pack. He cautiously approached several visitors over the summer. Of all the pups he was the bravest and was naturally curious of people. At eight months old he allowed a leash to be attached to him and managed to get in the wolf bus with Magpie and Abe. He saw the ocean, a river, and a lake for the first time as well as many other exciting places in the fall of 2009 as he traveled across New England. At his first program he met hundreds of people at Cornell University and he became playful and relished the attention. Illiamna met many wolf biologists and admirers at Defenders of Wildlife’s Carnivore Conference in Denver. As he matured he became so large that it was difficult to travel with him and he has now been retired from the amabassador program.
Illiamna now lives with Raven, an older Grey Wolf who is also an ex-amabassador. The two are happy together and Illiamna can regularly be seen at the front of their enclosure sleeping on his fire bunker or under a tree. He remains fairly outgoing and will still cautiously approach visitors to have his side scratched.