Dr. McCleery Lobo Wolves Digital Archive

Memory by Nancy A. Avolese

Description

A memory submitted by Nancy A. Avolese regarding her childhood visit to the wolf park in 1962, her research of Dr. McCleery, and the publishing of her book, “The Wolf Man of Kane, Pennsylvania.”

Date

December 7, 2013

Format

Memory

In 1962, I was two years old, my grandparents and parents took me to see the Lobo Wolves in Kane. Seeing the wolves, their faces, their eyes, the pens, and the feedings; these were my first vivid childhood memories. Although I never met Doctor McCleery myself, when I attended college for American Studies, I often asked historians about Edward McCleery and the Kane Lobo Wolves and what they might know. No one I spoke with seemed to remember any details or where the wolves ended up.

So in 2000, when I was ready to complete my master thesis, I decided it was my responsibility to write the history of the wolves and Doctor McCleery. I began to spend a lot of time in Kane and talked with anyone who would speak with me about the wolves. One person would send me to another person and I’d string bits of personal accounts together. I spent months looking over forty years (1920s to 1960s) of newspaper articles from the Kane Republican at the Kane High School, using an old crank-turn microfilm machine. I copied everything I could find on Doctor McCleery and his wolves, took photographs of the wolf park remnants, of the old houses, found post cards and other memorabilia on auction sites, searched at court houses to trace deeds and marriages, visited gravesites, and salvaged anything I could find related to my research.

When I retired, I was finally able to publish Doctor McCleery’s story in 2012. Since writing the book, “The Wolf Man of Kane, Pennsylvania”, I have discovered even more information about Doctor McCleery and his passion to keep the Lobo Wolves healthy and thriving and prove that given fair treatment, wolves could live in harmony with humans. By caring for the wolves and providing a tourist attraction to educate visitors, he saved the Lobo Wolf (Canis lupus nubilius), a subspecies of the gray wolf, from extinction. The offspring of his first wolves still survive today.

Doctor McCleery was just a man and I will never fully understand why he took some of the actions that he did but his story is a magnificent account of a time in America when one person could, and did, make a real difference. He sacrificed so much in terms of time, money, and heartache for his wolves. Chronicling his life has been one of the most rewarding adventures I have had the honor to experience. Kirsten’s website is another welcomed tribute to this remarkable individual.