Sewee Visitors Center
After a two week break to spend time with my children in NC and resolve some issues on the van that I am traveling with, I am back on the trail heading north. There are a couple of stories that are worth posting before we leave the Charleston area behind. One of them is the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center just up 17 in the Awendaw area.
This center, like many has the auditorium for educational films, the interactive displays and stuffed specimens of local creatures that are placed in settings that mimic the natural surroundings.
But what sets this center apart lies down a walkway a few hundred yards behind the center itself.
The path leads to a large observation deck that overlooks two enclosures that serve as home to a group of red wolves.
Inside the enclosures are dens that have been made for the wolves to use. Clean of limb, these are a beautiful creature. They do not have the square boxy chest of a dog; rather they have the "V" shaped chest that allows a narrow stride and fluid motion even when they are running at full speed.
Red wolves were once plentiful along the east coast from Pennsylvania to Florida, and ranged as far west as Texas. In the wild, their primary diet is rodents and small mammals, along with berries and an occasional deer.
Mature red wolves run from about fifty to eighty pounds. In the wild their life expectancy is 6 to 7 years, but in captivity they can live as long as 15 or 16 years. Realizing they were facing extinction, in 1980 the US Fish and Wildlife service trapped around twenty that were pure-bred. As a result of that effort, some 200 now survive in captivity and over 100 have been re-introduced to the wild.
At this time of year they are shedding their winter coat, so they do look a bit rumpled. But even in captivity they are shy and do their best to avoid contact with humans.
This center had a surprise this year - a couple of their wolves bred, which is somewhat of a rarity in captivity. Ignoring the shelters that had been built, the female dug a den that is pretty amazing given how deep and extensive it is. She tore through, over and under many tree roots to carve out a safe place to give birth. And when heavy rains came that flooded the dens, she dutifully carried the cubs to safer ground until the waters receded.
And one day - there they were. "Wolf-man Rob" is the sanctuary's leading wolf advocate. Here he is with the pups shortly after they were born.
Rob is a retired teacher and coach from New England who has loved canines of all types since he was a boy. His daughter came to college in Charleston, and Rob found the center and started volunteering. In just a few short years he became the person in charge of the wolves here.
His days are spent observing their behaviors, educating people who visit and seeing to the basic needs of the wolves. He is passionate about these creatures, and can talk with you for hours about various aspects of wolf behavior and the age-old myths associated with them.
In this litter, this first time mother gave birth to six pups. One was still-born the next day and another appeared healthy, but died - perhaps of suffocation. Two other females were transferred to the den in Alligator River NC and the remaining two are still here in Awendaw. They are doing fine and developing in that rapid and amazing way that young life does.
The mother carved out a nice little niche for the pups to cuddle in, and they commenced quickly to the point where they wanted to start exploring their world.
Soon it is time for a veterinarian to visit. There are many communicable diseases that wolves can get from domestic animals, but these pups were found to be in great shape.
In nature, animals have to mature quickly or perish. And so in just a few weeks these pups are running and learning the information they need to survive in this life.
These are beautiful creatures, and generations to come will be grateful for the efforts of those like Rob who have brought them back from the brink of extinction.
Speaking of wolves, I spent a few days in North Carolina with another sort of wolf pack. The wolf is the mascot of the charter school that my youngest son Drew graduated from. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with three of my four children, and hopeful that my youngest sets himself a course in life that will bring challenge and growth.
Woods Charter School; Chapel Hill NC
Drew addressing his class at graduation
Three of my four children
For those of you that are residents of Mount Pleasant SC, the issues with my van brought me into contact with someone who might be an asset to you. I am a pretty good mechanic, but several of the things the van needed were beyond the scope of what I could figure out or had the equipment to accomplish. Anthony and Nick of Autoworks of Charleston, located just up Rt. 41 in Cainhoy were very helpful and very fair. I watched them work, and you can tell the difference between a master mechanic and an average one quickly. If you have issues you need resolved and a place you can trust to shoot you straight, this is the spot.
Today's parting shot is of a moth that I saw on a screen door. I think this is a Luna Moth - a unique creature for sure.
Happy Thursday !!
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