As the newest addition to the Wolf Conservation Center‘s Ambassador Pack, Nikai’s job will be to interact with the community, help to dispel the notion of the “big, bad wolf,” and to help humans understand the important role wolves play in the environment. The 10.2-pound pup certainly charmed everyone at the pup press preview this morning, even offering up a squeaky howl to our delight.
World-renowned pianist Hélène Grimaud founded the South Salem center in 1996 as a non-profit organization to promote wolf conservation. Grimaud believes that wolves are not only essential “biodiversity engineers,” preserving balances among animal and plant species but also “endlessly fascinating creatures who have much to teach humans.”
The WCC also participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for two critically endangered wolf species, the Mexican gray wolf and the red wolf, among the rarest mammals in North America that were once completely extinct in the wild.
Westchester Magazine Features Editor Nancy Claus first learned about the center in 1998. “I met Hélène at a concert she performed at the Mead Chapel in Waccabuc,” Claus says. “When she heard I had children, she asked if they would be interested in helping to socialize some new pups. They were, and I quite literally threw my children to the wolves!”
Here’s little Nikai doing his best howl impression: