The alpha wolf is looking straight at me, its gaze steady and calm. I stare straight back at its beautiful grey face in awe.
Which isn’t ideal. You’re not supposed to look a wolf directly in the eye. It can be seen as a challenge and prompt a fight response. But I can’t look away, so I’m grateful for the triple glazed floor-to-ceiling window that separates us.
The rest of the pack is howling for permission to do something, and the alpha joins in. Perhaps to signal their strength of numbers or to settle their restlessness.
“Wolves love to howl,” explains Serge Lussier, director of Parc Omega. “It’s like children singing or carrying on when they get excited or want something from their parents.”
I sit and listen, watching younger gamma wolves wrestle and nip each other, while the lone omega wolf sits apart from the pack, observing and serving them as is his role in the hierarchy. It’s spellbinding to watch these wild animals, so often misunderstood and persecuted, in a natural environment at such close distance.
My wolf encounter is taking place in a cabin in the heart of 2,200 acres of forested rolling hills and meadows of Parc Omega in Outaouais, Quebec. Opened in 1991, Parc Omega is a wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for Canadian animals. It is not a zoo, though the park is protected with fencing and the animals are separated to protect them from each other. It’s more of an outdoor safari park that only houses Canadian animals that can live in the park all year long, including during the winter months.
The animals that live at Parc Omega are recovering from injury or have been born in the park. The park rehabilitates and releases those that have a chance of surviving back in the wild. Those who must remain in captivity offer us the opportunity to connect with them and with nature.
Guests can meander at their leisure and drive through 26 kilometres of meadow, mountain and boreal forest environment in the park, spotting large animals like bison, caribou and musk ox, and smaller creatures like arctic foxes, deer and mountain goats.
For those searching for a deeper connection and encounter with the animals, guests can spend the night with them (or with the wolves at least) in a Wolf Observatory cabin.
Open all year long, the popular Wolf Cabins are bright pine chalets that sleep up to four people. There’s a kitchen and dining area, a wood stove and an ‘outdoor’ seating area where you can curl up and watch wolves play, wrestle and sleep.
The best part about the cabin is the floor to ceiling glass wall that overlooks the wolf enclosure. This is the closest many of us can come to these impressive wild canines (and the safest, given that the glass is thick).
The wolves can be especially active at night, howling at the moon in an eerie song. While I’d be too excited to sleep a wink with such amazing animal activity nearby, ear plugs are recommended should you tire of hearing the call of the wild among the wolves at Parc Omega.
For more information to and to book your own wolf cabin at Parc Omega, visit parcomega.ca.
Disclosure: The writer was a guest of Parc Omega. They did not review this article prior to publication.
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