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Sponsor IlliamnaBorn on April 14, 2009 at Bear Country, SD
Arrived at Mission: Wolf on July 20, 2009
Illiamna (ill-ee-ahm-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 called Bear Country in South Dakota. He did not come alone; with him were seven other puppies, three litter mates and four Gray 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.
Our lead Ambassador 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 her partner 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 Arctic pups. Illiamna slowed down a bit, but as one of the bigger pups he shrugged off the virus and has grown to be one of the largest wolves 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, he allowed a leash to be attached to him and managed to get in the wolf bus with Magpie and Abe. In the fall of 2009, he saw the ocean, a river, and a lake for the first time, as well as many other exciting places as he traveled across New England. At his first program at Cornell University, he met hundreds of people, became playful and relished in 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 Ambassador program.
Illiamna was paired with Raven, an older Grey wolf who was also an ex-ambassador. The two got along well, and lived together happily until Raven passed away in October 2017. We hope to soon find another suitable partner for Illiamna, but he is doing very well for now. He can regularly be seen at the front of his enclosure sleeping on his fire bunker or under a tree. He remains fairly outgoing and will cautiously approach staff to have his side scratched.