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As synecdoches, symbols carrying different meanings depending on personal affiliations and values, how we perceive wolves is highly subjective. Robisch (2009), in Wolves and the Wolf Myth, offers that we write of wolves in our culture based on what exists in our imagination and what serves our human needs — the World Wolf of our literature, the Corporeal Wolf of our biological world. We need both, in order to understand its place in our world, within its landscape, its role in our ecosystem, and its inherent right to exist.
To appreciate our interconnection with the wolf, as an animal of high intelligence, social qualities, relational capacities, survival instincts, tenacious and fierce determination, is to recognize its intrinsic values. We have romanticized, overemphasized, villified, reified the wolf in order to support our position, as reason for its eradication or its existence. The choice to take a wolf’s life is not ours to make. Wolves possess an inherent right to live. As we continue to assert dominance, employ all means of murder — from political, economical, manifesting into physical — we conveniently disregard other responsibilities as stewards and guardians of life on earth. Certainly, it is as reasonable to protect ourselves from the natural effects of a wolf’s predatory behavior as we would seek shelter from a hurricane or higher ground from a flash flood. But our continual choice to assert our right to a healthy and prosperous life, if there were such right, by murdering sensitive, feeling, intelligent and beautiful creatures is a crime of inner morality, an act of ignorant arrogance and contributes to the social violence amongst us. For these alleged acts of self-protection are eschew with myth, overreaction, and malice. Wolves deserve a rightful place in our landscapes — we can employ nonviolent means to deter predator behavior, we can use our human consciousness — continually evolving — to create paths of coexistence. We can address the legitimate concerns of those living close to wolves to put the hearts and minds at ease. And we can expand our concept of what it means to live in the world with all creatures, even those that push the edges of our very human boundaries.
“RESTORE HUNGER ANALOGIES TO THE WOLF SCENE.
SHARPEN THEIR FANGS FOR THE FEAST SCENE,
WHICH HAS NO BEFORE AND NO AFTER”
Nineteen eight year-olds–my niece is one
of them—bare their small white teeth at
a thick pane of glass which protects two
young wolves and their father. The elder
wolf’s eyes relax. He does not shift his
position facing the glass, paws in melting
snow. At the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo,
three wolves await their release into the
wild. For now, fences contain them, and
their fluffy tails bore the hordes of children
who taunt them. “What kind of dog
Later, as giraffes maneuver around an acrylic
zebra carcass, the sun presents itself. “I left my
sunglasses with the wolves!” my niece hyperventilates.
I offer to make the journey alone.
Entering the synthetic cave—which houses the
glass for viewing the wolves—rhinestones glint
off of Kate’s glasses. I grab them and pause,
looking for the vanished dogs. No sight of them.
Exiting the cave, I feel the chill of eyes tracking
me. Oh, good. That’s more like it, I think, smiling
(baring my own set of fangs).
A Daughter’s Personal Mythology, Part III
When I was nine years old, my father and I took a trip to Alaska. Dad had the she-wolf at his side, and I was eager to search for my own wolf-sister. He told me it was a hereditary honor, that an animal would manifest itself to me when the time was right. I practiced howling for two days. A coyote’s been following me ever since.
Later, in Antarctica, the wolf and coyote transformed themselves into magpies. We all shivered and flew over the cold brightness. In Antarctica’s climate, wings were necessary for our survival, and eventually my father and I sprouted our own.
It was an exhilarating experience to fly above glaciers in a white world. Even the sky was white. My father had a love for ice since childhood, and he was fascinated with the fact that glacial ice had been frozen for thousands, if not millions, of years. There were stories frozen there, traces of early intelligence. The wolf took him deep into the snow-world in search of heredity. She held memories in the cells of her tongue, passed down through ancestral wolves, and shared them with my father. They spoke a common language. At night, they would go out together and howl. From camp, I heard other wolves respond in the distance.
Suzanne DuLany from Endangered Memory