From our leadership
Executive Director’s Letter
Executive Director Grant Spickelmier shares his thoughts on a year full of upheaval and change in the wolf world. COVID impacts lingered, but there was also a new pup, a new partnership and a new fellowship.
Board Chair’s letter
Board of Directors Chair Nancy jo Tubbs says the Center’s supporters, staff, volunteers and board of directors “guided the Center through one of its toughest years with generosity, persistence and resilience. It is a story we can be proud of, now and in the future!”
As COVID-19 impacted our visitor center, the International Wolf Center increased its online presence through a variety of WolfLink virtual field trip and webinar opportunities. The education team led WolfLink virtual field trips for approximately 7,000 students countrywide in 2021. These students were able to connect live to our programs with our education team from their classrooms or with their classmates from their individual homes. They learned about wolf biology and observed natural wolf behavior through our live webcams. Webinars were viewed by over 2,500 participants.
Nearly 1,700 people attended our weekly program, What’s for Dinner? They learned about the hunting and feeding behavior of wolves while having the opportunity to observe our Exhibit Pack and ask our education team questions.
More visitors than ever before came to the Center’s website at wolf.org. Our online educational material was viewed by 863,600 unique visitors.
2021 continued our partnership with explore.org, where the Center’s ambassador wolves are featured on two live webcams. These cams are staffed by volunteer camera operators and provide a unique look at real wolf behaviors.
New content drew new visitors to our website at wolf.org. In 2020, that content included myth busting posts, including one about a viral photo of a wolf pack traveling through snow that is inaccurate. There were also a number of new articles about wolf science, including posts about why the term “alpha wolf” is misleading and what went into the decision to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act.
Audiences all over the world are able to access current, science-based information through our educational programming about wolves and wildlands.
New study shows wolves save Wisconsin residents $10.9 million annually because of reduction in deer-vehicle crashes
What is a lone wolf? And why do wolves disperse?
How do wolf packs figure out how big their territory should be? New research shows wolves carve out their territories ‘economically’
2021 brought new life to the Center’s ambassador wolf program with the adoption of a single female pup we originally nicknamed “Our Girl Sunday” because she was born on Sunday. A name-the-pup contest in June selected Rieka as her official name.
Caring for wolves was a team effort and the summer of 2021 included 24-hour a day scheduling from May 30 to Aug. 8. Rieka was brought into the Exhibit Pack space on Aug. 9. She weighed approximately 23 pounds and was 79 days old. After the introduction, staffing levels continued at 12-hour days until we could ensure that Rieka could hold her own with the larger packmates.
The summer of 2021 demonstrated the highest level of team investment in time, energy and tenacity and those efforts paid off. Webcam watchers and Center visitors saw Rieka running with her pack and, during the quieter times, she was resting in close proximity to Grayson. By her 7-month birthday on Dec. 23, she weighed over 70 pounds, thanks in part to staff offering food several times a day.
While the newest pack member dominated staff time, the oldest pack member benefited from the additional hours as well. Grizzer, born in 2004, was the sole remaining member of the Retired Pack and rather than disrupt his life, he stayed within the Pack Holding Area, just inches away from the gates that brought Rieka in and out of the nursery. Of course, there was a protective fence to keep Rieka safe. To say that Grizzer was stimulated by the young pup was an understatement. Her finicky appetite would often mean Grizzer got to feast on the leftovers, definitely a bonus in his mind.
Lastly, we’d like to offer a special thank you to:
- The many supporters who donated to Rieka’s food, medical and staffing needs;
- The supporters who helped fund the necessary improvements to consistently improve the retirement enclosure from the elements, which can weaken older immune systems; and
- All of the donors who helped fund our webcam investments and collaboration with Explore.org to bring the ambassador wolves even more people to help us teach the world about wolves.
The International Wolf Center will be adding pups to its pack in 2021
Farewell to Denali, an ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center
Your generosity made an incredible difference at the International Wolf Center in 2021. As our financials show, the effects of COVID-19 lingered in 2021. For much of the summer, the Center limited the number of visitors per day to keep our employees and our guests as safe as possible. Even though our admissions revenue was down, donors and members like you stepped in and more than made up the difference!
Our financials illustrate that bright spot clearly. With your help and that of our Board of Directors, we raised more than $100,000 during our biggest one-day fundraiser, Give to the Wolves Day, in November. We were so encouraged by members and donors who have supported us for decades and to brand new donors who stepped forward. There’s just no way we would have made it through 2021 without your support.
Sources of revenue in 2021
For older financial statements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The International Wolf Center is a 501(c)(3) organization.