Wolf Creek Habitat and Rescue — located in Brookville, Indiana, just an hour from Cincinnati, Ohio — is a non-profit center whose mission is to provide a safe space for rescue wolves and to educate visitors about the good and gentle side of these creatures, who are truly misunderstood.
The wolf habitat was built by Kathy Baudendistel and her husband, Terry, who turned their family property into a sanctuary where dozens of wolves have been saved.
Being close to a real-life wolf for the very first time was a startling and beautiful experience. I was sitting on a large rock, watching as the creature casually sauntered past me, not two feet from my face.
It was so strange not having a glass partition between us, like you’d find at the zoo.
I could have reached out and touched him, he was so close. And part of me instinctually wanted to do just that. But this was a wolf, not a domesticated dog. As cute as he looked, there were rules here. Rules that are set by the wolves, and that humans need to follow in order to keep everyone safe and happy.
Anyway, this guy seemed like he had places to be and people to see. The last thing I wanted to do was annoy him.
His name, I quickly learned, is Koda — known as “the wolf with a coat of many colors” because his fur color changed as he grew. The volunteers describe him as having an easy-going and gentle spirit, and he fit that description perfectly.
He was totally chill as he hopped up on the platform and interacted with us — the first of the wolves to welcome our group.
The volunteers at the center are well trained, knowledgeable, and fun to talk to. They’ll tell you about each wolf’s unique personality, their likes and dislikes, and any wolf pack drama that goes down.
Once the wolves were ready for a visit, which was within minutes of our group’s arrival, they jumped up on the platform and walked right up to us. They love being scratched on the chest. And their fur is a lot more coarse than I expected.
My son had a blast and loved every second of it. He’s always been an animal lover, and he wasn’t a bit shy about getting to meet some wolves.
Being able to do something different and cool with my kid was honestly my main motivator for planning this trip to Wolf Creek Habitat. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend time with your kids — as long as they are at least five feet tall.
That’s another important rule. Kids are welcome, but they have to be at least 60 inches tall to interact. According to the Wolf Creek Habitat website, the wolves may get overly excited and jump on you, so children have to meet the height requirement. The height rule doesn’t apply to adults under five feet, however.
If you’re coming to visit and have little ones who don’t meet the height guideline, you can still have fun watching the wolves from the observation deck, which is free to do if you’re ever passing by.
Bonding with wolves was an amazing experience to have with my teen, and I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s just a really fun and unique thing to share with someone you love. The energy you get from these wolves feels calm and exciting and healing all at once. It’s really something special.
The second wolf to greet us was Iya. She was introduced as one of the most social wolves in the place. She absolutely adores getting attention from human visitors, almost as much as she loves pestering her brother, Kodiak.
Her name means Pumpkin in the Cherokee language and was given to her because of the spot on her chest, which looks like a slice of pie.
We caught a glimpse of Iya “pestering” her brother. He had been getting a bit too much attention for her liking, so she wanted to make her presence known.
Healing with Wolves
During our visit, I learned wolves in the wild are keenly aware that humans are at the top of the food chain. They would smell a human and bolt before they even let us set eyes on them.
But, if for some reason you do happen upon a wolf in the wild, I’m told they would rather avoid you than attack you. They are basically too smart and sensible to want to bother risking a fight or wasting their energy on a human.
Now I’m thinking Disney’s Beauty and the Beast had it all wrong. That scene where Belle is attacked by wolves just feeds into their nasty and inaccurate reputation as aggressive, blood-thirsty lunatics.
And of course, there’s also all that werewolf horror I grew up on.
It makes sense that wolves would indeed attack when threatened, which is why it’s important to do what the volunteers instruct if you decide to visit the habitat. The wolves seem to demand nothing less than respectful and gentle behavior when they’re hanging out with us, and it’s easy to follow their lead.
I’ve had some friends make it known that they “would definitely not get close to a wolf” when I tried to tell them about my experience. I think people really do have a general misconception about how wolves think and act. I know I did before I visited the habitat and learned more about their true nature.
Wolf Creek Habitat even runs a program to help veterans find peace and healing through interacting with the wolves. And now, after having experienced it myself, I can understand how such a program would be helpful.
Honestly, spending time with animals has always helped my generalized anxiety disorder, and being with the wolves just ramped up the calm and connection I feel with domestic animals.
If you’re feeling up to it, a visit to Wolf Creek Habitat is something I highly recommend.