The last member of the Alaska Zoo’s resident wolf pack has died at the age of 16, zoo staff said Monday.
Windy was a gray female who came to the zoo in Anchorage in 2006, one of a half-dozen pups the Alaska Department of Fish and Game took from a predator control zone, where wolves were being hunted and trapped, Alaska Zoo Director Pat Lampi said.
“They were wonderful animals,” Lampi said. “I would say they were the best ambassadors of species that we’ve ever had here at the zoo.”
Zoo staff would walk the wolves every day on a service road and introduce them to visitors, and the wolves were part of an education program, Lampi said. Over the years, about 3 million people had a chance to experience and learn about wolves, he said.
Windy lived longer than her siblings and much longer than a wolf in the wild, which has a life expectancy somewhere between five and 10 years, Lampi said.
Windy played a key role in educating people about wolves, he said.
“We were able to dispel a lot of the myths and false information that has been put out about wolves over generations,” Lampi said. “So people could learn about them, see them, understand more about them and gain appreciation for the wild counterparts.”
The howling of wolves won’t be heard at the zoo for the foreseeable future, but if an opportunity comes along to again have wolves there, the zoo will look into it, Lampi said.
“Right now, it’s kind of a hole in the zoo, for everyone,” he said.