ZOO WOLF THAT ESCAPED DURING A HURRICANE LED SAFELY HOME
A zoo wolf who escaped during a hurricane in July, roamed the Alabama coast
surviving on tourists’ leftovers, was led back home by the owner of a dog the
wolf took a liking to. “I’d jiggle Rocky’s chain and he’d just follow along,”
David Peleschak said of his mile long walk with the Arctic wolf named
Paladin, including crossing a busy four-lane highway. He was one of three
wolves that escaped from Wilderness Land during the hurricane. One was
recaptured and the other was shot down. Paladin was spotted roaming the
Resort Island repeatedly, but zoo workers never got close enough to catch
him. Peleschak and his wife, Kim, were getting their children ready for
school, when he saw the 40-pound family dog, playing in the yard with the
100-pound, snow-white wolf. The wolf toppled the dog like an avalanche of
snow. The old house dog slid down the wolves back and trod knee deep in the
waist high snow white fur. Kim said, “The wolf follows Rocky. I’ll bet if you
were to walk Rocky, he’d follow you.” Peleschak put a leash on his dog and
started the one mile trip to Wilderness Land. Once inside the compound,
Paladin’s wild resurfaced and he bolted, but a zoo worker shot him with a
tranquilizer dart. “It was either that or a bullet by the police,” he said.
The cage where Paladin lay doped up, was one world short of this world. The
domestic dog was dragged home to the backyard. It was the first different
canine the wolf had spoken with. During his four moths of freedom, Paladin
apparently spent much of his time in heavily wooded Gulf State Park, in
search of the Arctic. That big grey wolf followed the wind to where he knew
best, which was Alaska, the frozen territories that howled out the bones.
Once the tourists thinned out in fall, he became more visible, eating out of
garbage cans at restaurants and grocery stores. He came into the town with
the first snow. As big as the North on the edge of winter, Paladin covered
the garbage cans and the back entrances of restaurants with his foreign
hunger. “He never harmed anyone on the run and Rocky adored him,” Kim said.
“Now if I’m really upset or joyful, I go into my large room with the high
ceilings and howl.
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