Koani is a
gray wolf (Canis lupus). Koani’s name comes from a Blackfeet Indian
word meaning, “play.” Koani was born in captivity on May
5, 1991 for a filmmaker who asked Bruce and Pat to raise and socialize
her to play the role of an ambassador wolf in his documentary. Ambassador
wolves are animal teachers that educate the public about wolves.
After he failed to follow through on his promise to take responsibility
for Koani upon completing the documentary,
Pat and Bruce
faced a difficult decision: put Koani to sleep or create an education
organization. And so began Wild Sentry and a lifelong partnership
between Koani, Indy (her dog companion), Pat and Bruce. Koani is
not a pet. Wolves do not make good pets. They are nearly impossible
to housebreak or obedience train. They are incorrigible chewers
of furniture and clothes. Because captive wolves are socialized
to humans, yet retain a highly developed predatory instinct, they
are dangerous around children unless closely supervised. This is
not “meanness,” it’s just the fact that small children move
in a fast and jerky manner while emitting high pitched squeals—in
short everything that a prey animal in trouble does. A normal, healthy
wolf pounces on and bites an animal that behave like that. Because
of this behavior, Koani must be kept in an enclosure that does not
allow direct contact with people through the fence. When she is
outside her enclosure she must always be on a leash. We hope that,
in spite of this, her life will be worthwhile—and it will be if
she is able to help people form a more realistic attitude toward
at birth, she is becoming grayer as she ages (one black sister
and brother, one coyote colored sister and brother).
- Five pups
in her litter (three female, two male) weighed one pound at birth.
- Needs constant
companionship—this is provided by Indy, a mixed-breed dog of shepherd-collie
ancestry. They were raised together and are closely bonded. Indy
accompanies her everywhere. Koani howls if she is separated from
him for more than a few minutes.
- Koani can
never be released in the wild because she does not have a family
to teach her how to survive in the wild.
facilities include a one-acre wooded enclosure, with a spring,
that’s surrounded by ten-foot double fencing and provides access
through a ‘wolf’ door into a pen within Pat and Bruce’s living
hopes to dance with Kevin Costner.
Star of the Show
constant companion and dominant canine even though he’s half her
differences between wolves and dogs and provides a graphic example
of why dogs make the best pets (as opposed to wolves or wolf-hybrids).
he’s the star attraction, so don’t burst his balloon. He actually
is the star of Wild Sentry’s new program, Whatever Happened
to the Wolf? The Dog Domestication Story.
Often Asked about Koani and Indy
of dog is Indy?"
We rescued Indy
from the animal shelter so we don't know Indy's ancestry-probably
some shepherd and border collie, some people think his tail is Samoyed.
We call him a Big Sky Snow Roller-one of a kind. Or we call him a
Wonder Dog, because we wonder what breeds are in him. Actually, we
don't care about Indy's pedigree because he's perfect (or nearly so)
just the way he is.
Indy came from the animal shelter, we don't know his exact age. However,
we think that he's about six to eight months older than Koani. Koani
was born on May 5, 1991. So, how old is Indy? How old is Koani?
think that Koani will have puppies?"
No. We had a veterinary
do an operation so that she can't have puppies. Like we said during
the program, wolves don't make good pets; they belong in the wild
where they can run free. Sometimes we feel very sad about Koani being
in captivity. The only way that we can feel better about it is knowing
that she's a teacher who helps people understand wolves better.
go to other schools with Koani and Indy?"
Wild Sentry programs is what we do for our living. It's important
to remember that Koani is not a pet, she is a teacher and even though
we love her, we would never have agreed to raise Koani if we weren't
going to go to schools with her. We also do programs for adults. Every
year, Koani and Wild Sentry present about 150 programs to more than
ever bitten anyone?"
Koani has bit
Pat and me when we tried to take something away from her that we thought
she shouldn't have. It's dangerous to take things away from dogs too.
ever gotten hurt?"
Koani hasn't ever
been hurt badly. Once however, due to her curiosity, Koani stuck her
nose into a yellow-jacket nest and got stung. Her muzzle swelled up
and you could tell that it made her feel sick. Fortunately, by the
next day, the swelling had gone down and she felt better.
"Did you have
Indy when you got Koani?"
we brought Koani home to live with us, we couldn't leave her alone
for even one minute or she'd howl and cry and whine. We realized that
she needed a canine companion so we went to the animal shelter where
we found Indy.
if you could teach the wolf tricks?"
have gotten wolves to perform tricks for a food reward-to aid in this
process, they keep the wolves a little hungry. However, you can't
housebreak wolves or teach them to obey commands the way you can a
Koani ever been in the movies?"
and Pat were featured in an ABC-World of Discovery special, Return
of A Legend. Koani and Wild Sentry were in the IMAX movie Wolves as
well as many television programs aired on Tokyo Broadcasting, ABC
News, News Travel Network, Salt Lake City Channel 2 Morning Program,
Tigress Productions (PBS & BBC), Spokane Channel 6 News, and KPAX
& KNET Missoula.
"How big can
people, the size of wolves varies according to where they live. Wolves
in Minnesota and the Boundary Waters region average 80 to 95 pounds.
Wolves in the northern Rockies of Alberta and British Columbia average
90 to 110 pounds. The largest recorded wolf came from Alaska and weighed
in at 160 pounds; this was an unusually large wolf however.
have a cat?"
We used to have
a cat named Baggins. In fact, Pat had Baggins before she knew me and
long before Indy and Koani came into our life. Baggins died at the
age of 19 just after the Thanksgiving of 1992. I was glad that worked
out that way because it meant that Baggins got to eat one last turkey
dinner; and he loved turkey.
going to keep Koani until she dies?"
Yes and that's
a big responsibility. In the wild, wolves live to be 7 to 8 years
old. Koani, being in captivity, could easily live to 13 to 15 years.
Author, Storyteller, Educator, Wolf Wrangler
has led a richly diverse life and is a firm believer in the importance
of imagination and stories, Bruce never dreamed that he’d grow up
to be a wolf wrangler. Before teaming up with Koani, he also drove
skidder and set choker in the forests of Oregon, owned and operated
a ski and mountaineering store, instructed Outward Bound, roughnecked
on an exploratory barge in the Red Sea, worked as a climbing guide,
picked cotton on one of the world’s largest corporate farms, climbed
Yosemite’s El Capitan, owned a restaurant, and assisted his wife,
Pat Tucker, on the Whitetail Deer Study/Wolf Ecology Project in
the wildlands that border Glacier National Park—all subjects of
a good story or two. He holds a B.A. in geography and earned a M.F.A.
in creative writing from the University of Montana. While at the
U of M, where Bill Kittredge served as his major advisor, Bruce
was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship and a Clancy Gordon Scholarship.
Bruce has authored numerous magazine articles, a travel book, Trail
of the Great Bear, and two children’s books: There’s A Wolf
In The Classroom, about raising an ambassador wolf (selected
for Science Book & Film’s Annual Best Children’s Science Book List),
and Tales of Two Canines: The Adventures of a Wolf and a Dog.
He produced and wrote the awarding-winning, Public Television documentary, The Wolf: Real or Imagined? and an award winning wolf-identification
video, Was That A Wolf? (Best of the Northwest Video Festival
Instructional Award and Educational Award from the International
Wildlife Film Festival). Bruce currently co-directors Wild Sentry,
a position that also includes presenting environmental education
programs, writing a quarterly (fun and entertaining as opposed to
doom and gloom) newsletter, and caring for Koani, the ambassador
consulted and/or appeared in documentaries such as Wolves-IMAX, Wolves-Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet, Really Wild
Show-BBC, Secret Life of Wolves-Audubon/Disney, Return
of a Legend-ABC Discovery Series, The Snow Wolves-KUED
Public Television, and Wolves of the World-BBC. His articles
and photography have appeared in Montana Magazine, Boys’ Life, Northern
Lights, Washington Magazine, High Country News, the Montanan, Defenders
Magazine, Outside, various newspapers, and books such as Montana:
A Photographic Celebration—Vol. I & II, Christmastime in Montana,
and Montana on My Mind. He co-authored Can You Turn a Wolf
into a Dog? He is a member of the Society Children Book Writers
to his educational work with Wild Sentry, he instructed Wolf Courses
for the University of San Francisco and Glacier Institute, taught
Writing and Technical Writing courses at the University of Montana
and worked as a Senior Instructor for Northwest Outward Bound and
Summit Expeditions. He has been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian
Institution, American Museum of Natural History, Monterey Bay Aquarium,
and the California Academy of Sciences among others.
Wildlife Biologist, Author, Educator, Wolf Wrangler
development of Wild Sentry: The Northern Rockies Ambassador Wolf
Program in August 1991. She quickly realized that people possess
a tremendous desire for contact with animals. The impact and importance
of viewing live animals cannot be overstated. Ironically, urban
children, because they live close to zoos, possess a far greater
opportunity to see large predators than do children in most rural
areas. Seeing a live wolf forces viewers to alter their mental image
of the animal and confront misconceptions. This is particularly
important with the wolf, an animal that plays a symbolic role in
our imagination based on its characterization in stories. Pat’s belief in and commitment to environmental education predated
her development of Wild Sentry. From 1987 until 1992, as a biologist
for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), she produced and distributed
educational material about wolves and wolf recovery in the northern
Rockies, in addition to serving as a consultant on numerous wildlife
issues. Wolf advocates and opponents continue to credit Pat for
presenting sound information that represents both sides of the issues
surrounding wolf recovery.
tenure at NWF, Pat presented programs to several hundred diverse
groups that included sportsmen clubs, ranching groups, students
of all ages, teacher workshops, scientific symposiums, business
associations and conservation groups;
an educational video;
the Traveling Educational Program on Wolves, which reaches more
than 22,000 students annually. Distributed to teachers throughout
Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the 25 “Wolf Boxes” contain curriculum,
videos, books, pelts, skulls, plaster casts of tracks, scat specimens,
as well as classroom aides such as a felt story board, puppets
- And served
as a technical advisor to the congressionally mandated Wolf Recovery
a BA in nursing in 1979 and earned her M.S. in wildlife biology
from the University of Montana, in 1991. She also wrote Can You
Turn a Wolf into a Dog? and co-authored two children’s books: There’s
A Wolf In The Classroom, about raising an ambassador wolf (selected for Science Book & Film’s
Annual Best Children’s Science Book List), and Tales of Two Canines:
The Adventures of a Wolf and a Dog. She published the popular
booklet, Wolf Recovery in the Northern Rockies: Commonly Asked
Questions (more than 40,000 distributed), Wolves: Identification,
Documentation, Population Monitoring and Conservation Considerations (1990), Attitudes of Hunters and Residents Toward Wolves in Northwestern
Montana (Wildlife Society Bulletin, 1989), and compiled the
definitive Annotated Gray Wolf Bibliography (1988) for the
U.S. Fish Wildlife Service.
include the 1995 Public Awareness Award from Partners in Flight,
1993 Environmental Educator of the Year from the Montana Wildlife
Federation, 1992 Environmental Achievement Award presented by Renew
America, a 1990 certificate for outstanding dedication and initiative
presented by the Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Steering Committee,
the 1988 Bertha Morton Scholarship.
As a consultant,
Pat provided technical and expert advice for television documentaries
such as Return of a Legend (ABC), The Wolf: Real or Imagined? (Public Television), and Was That A Wolf?, Wolves of the
World-BBC and has consulted and appeared in Wolves-IMAX, Secret Life of Wolves-Audubon/Disney, Return of a Legend-ABC
Discovery Series, and The Snow Wolves-KUED Public Television.
She has been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institution,
American Museum of Natural History, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the
California Academy of Sciences among others.