We spent all day Saturday in neighboring Lancaster County, visiting some cool places in the town of Lititz.
Lititz destination 1: The Wolf Sanctuary of PA
First up was a trip to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, a place we visited a few years ago with Ashar’s Wildlife Watchers 4-H club and wanted to return to as a family.
I was amazed at how popular the tours of the sanctuary had grown – when we went before, it was a group of about 20, and this time, there were several groups of about 40 people apiece going through the hour-and-a-half-long tour to see about two-thirds of the more than 40 wolves currently on the property.
Here in Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to keep wolves indoors – and in almost if not every state, it’s illegal to keep them as pets. The sanctuary exists to take wolves seized by game officials and give them a proper home. It’s not a breeding facility or a “rehab and release” place; once the wolves come, they’re there for life.
The organization is almost entirely staffed by volunteers, plus a paid “wolf master” named Darrell who matches up the animals into packs (which we learned is QUITE the process) and so on!
Our tour guide, who you can see above giving a snack to one of the wolves in the sanctuary’s “Big Pack,” was Chuck Rineer, also a noted wildlife photographer.
Chuck told us a TON that we didn’t know about wolf body language and communication – and how the volunteers know when they need to stay away from a wolf! When you see the photos, you think, “Oh, how cute, it looks like an overgrown dog,” but one thing you learn quickly is that the ONLY relation between these animals and how your dog behaves is in appearance.
These are wild animals – they are not trainable, they are not “social” (most of the wolves, unless they were bottle-fed upon arriving at the sanctuary, don’t like to be touched), and they only come up to the fence when you’re touring because the guide carries a large bucket of raw meat.
That said, they are incredibly intelligent, incredibly gorgeous creatures who I’m so glad to know are safe in the sanctuary! (They are IMMENSELY well cared for, by the way – though my pictures can’t do it justice, they have big spaces to call their own and a caring crew looking after them, including a veterinary team that donates the cost of the labor to care for all the animals.)
If you’re in Pennsylvania… I highly recommend a visit! Tours are best in the winter months – the wolves are most active – and they’re reasonably priced at $12 per adult on the weekends.
Lititz Destination 2: Wilbur Chocolate Co.
After we left the sanctuary, we headed about five miles up the road to the town of Lititz proper. There’s a lot of cool shopping there, as well as the Wilbur Chocolate Company. Wilbur is the maker of Wilbur Buds, something that many people would say bears a resemblance to the possibly more famous Hershey Kiss – except that the Wilbur Bud predates the Kiss!
While there isn’t an official “tour” of the factory, there is a small museum dedicated to the history and art of chocolate-making, and a change to see several goodies made behind glass. We sat and watched most of the video on how chocolate is created from cacao beans, and that was pretty cool! (And free!)
Finally, we closed out our time in Lititz and our Lancaster County day by visiting the Lancaster Barnes & Noble… which was fortuitous, as it was educator week, with a discount of 25% off your purchase instead of the normal 20%.
And guess what? B&N gives educator discounts to homeschoolers if you provide your affidavit (which I happen to carry in my wallet so that I can get A.C. Moore’s educator discount!)
Many books. Wolves. Chocolate. Good day in my world!
This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Best Homeschool Field Trips linkup. Click the image below to read more from this series!