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Raised by zoo, how a group of rescued wolves comes into their own

Video produced by Kaysie Ellingson and Hanna Craig.

Tim Lescher spends most of his day with wild animals. As a zookeeper at the Alaska Zoo, Lescher is responsible for taking care of the zoo’s gray wolves, which he said plays a role in educating the public on a species that has often been misunderstood.

“The important thing of wolves being here at the Alaska Zoo is to allow the public to see wolves similar to the way they truly exist, not as we’ve perpetuated them in popular culture,” Lescher said.

Wolves, are pack animals with a strong social hierarchy, and each have their own individual personalities, Lescher said. They can also form a strong connection with humans, he said. “They’re very social animals — they’re not just social between the wolves themselves, but between the wolves and the humans, there’s a very strong bond and strong connection,” he said.

One group of wolves at the zoo came from a region under Alaska’s predator control rules, which are enforced to reduce the population of predators like bears and wolves. At the zoo, Lescher said it is important to keep wolves’ predator status in mind as he cares for them. “You do have to remind yourself, almost on a daily or weekly basis, that they are wild animals and they’re not pets,” Lescher said.

Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

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