SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Some of the rarest wolves in the world are located right in South Salem.
The Wolf Conservation Center is a private, not-for-profit environmental education organization. The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future.
The WCC, which was started in 1999, is home to 21 wolves, who can often be heard howling away.
On Saturday, the WCC hosted "Winter Wolves," in which patrons learn about the mythology, biology and ecology of wolf families.
They also got to meet Atka, the WCC's chief ambassador wolf, and Alawa and Zephyr, a two-and-a-half year-old brother-and-sister pair.
The event was hosted by New Rochelle resident Joe Darling, who has volunteered at the WCC for six years.
"Nobody told Alawa and Zephyr they weren't puppies," Darling said, as he put his thumb in harm's way, feeding the wolves.
Before meeting the wolves, Darling spoke about how wolves survive and how organizations like the WCC are doing what they can to replenish the population. While wolves have a negative PR problem thanks to "Little Red Riding Hood."
"They have a reputation for being scary and mean, but that's not true," Darling said. "Every year, chipmunks bite more people than wolves."
In the wild, wolves generally live between 6-8 years, feeding on ungulates, like deer, bison and moose.
Atka, Alawa and Zephyr enjoy eggs, bananas, tomatoes, roadkill deer and anything else the volunteers at the WCC throw to them.
The WCC also features Mexican Gray Wolves and Red Wolves who they work in replenishing and eventually releasing into the wild.