Dr. McCleery Lobo Wolves Digital Archive

Dr. McCleery's Lobo Wolf Park in Kane, Pennsylvania

Wolves at Dr. McCleery's first lobo wolf park within the town limits of Kane, PA (1921-1929)In 1921, when he acquired his first wolf, Dr. E. H. McCleery lived in a house at the corner of Tionesta Avenue and Pine Street in Kane, Pennsylvania. He owned at least four acres of land, part of which bordered Park Avenue. This location was sometimes referred to as the "West Side" or "South Side" park. It was located just west of the Kane High School, which at that time was located along Chestnut Street. The wolf pens could be seen from the high school.231 Robert B. Jones, superintendent of the wolf park, lived in a house located across from the wolf pens which was close enough that he and his wife could keep an eye on the wolves from their window.7(p.10)

Dr. McCleery with a wolf at his first lobo wolf park within the town limits of Kane, PA (1921-1929)When Dr. McCleery received his first wolf - Jerry - in 1921, he kept him in a stall in his barn along with several other animals including a mare whom Dr. McCleery kept to drive a buggy, and various species of wild ducks and geese whose wings were clipped and who were kept in a stall adjacent to Jerry's.7(p.5) The barn adjoined a fenced four-acre field in which the wolves were allowed to run.7(p.3) The wolves were only allowed in this field when supervised or chained, so it seems that the fence was low enough that the wolves could have jumped over it.

The first wolf yard was completed by May 19211 and was located in the center of the four-acre field231 about 500 feet from Dr. McCleery's house.7(p.18) The yard contained a vestibule, runways, and individual wolf pens which Dr. McCleery divided into more pens as he obtained more wolves.2 By 1926, the wolf yard was divided into seven separate pens - each 50 square feet - contained by eight-foot-high wire fences and with wire laid on the ground inside the pens near the foot of the fence to prevent the wolves from digging out.231 In 1927 an eighth pen was added.128 At first, the wolf yard was constructed of wire nailed to wooden posts and the pens had wooden doors with heavy wire nailed over them.7(p.11) The wooden posts were later replaced (or at least supplemented) by metal poles with slightly diagonal ends at the top.3 Some of the pens were separated by sheet iron attached to the fences, presumably to keep the wolves from attacking each other through the wire.7(p.13)

Wolf pups at Dr. McCleery's first lobo wolf park within the town limits of Kane, PA (1921-1929)In addition to the danger posed to the wolves by their pen-neighbors, the first park's fences were insufficient to prevent human visitors from injuring the wolves on occasion. Two of Dr. McCleery's wolves were stuck with knives through the fences at the first park.7(p.9, p.10) The fences at the next park, along Route 6, were designed to prevent these sorts of incidents.

In the meantime, Dr. McCleery hung signs to warn people to keep their distance. By 1927, the wolf yard fence bore a sign that said "Do not approach closer than ten feet."128 Another sign read "Dangerous, keep hands off wire," though it is unclear at which park this sign was hung.7(p.9)

A wolf at Dr. McCleery's first lobo wolf park within the town limits of Kane, PA (1921-1929)Each of the pens contained a wooden hutch-like structure which was elevated from the ground. These were the houses in which the pups were born. The houses contained a hole through which the mother could enter and exit but which was too high up for the pups to crawl through.7(p.29) These structures seem to be unique to the Tionesta Avenue/Pine Street park location. When the wolf pups were about three or four weeks old, they were removed from their mothers and taken to a stone house200 - sometimes referred to as the "pup house" - in the outer field of Dr. McCleery's property7(p12) where they were hand-raised to become tame and accustomed to humans.128

By 1928, Dr. McCleery had begun searching for a new location for his park. He was looking for a larger area and one which was more heavily-traveled to bring more paying visitors to the park to help fund it. In 1929 he moved the wolves to a new location along Route 6, five miles east of Kane. Though Dr. McCleery had a house built for his family there, he and his family continued to live at their house on the corner of Tionesta Avenue and Pine Street until at least 1940, though it is possible that they lived at the Route 6 house during the summer when Dr. McCleery's daughter was not in school.232

Footnotes

1The Lone Killer (page 6) indicates that the wolf yard was built for Jerry and the first four pups, and that only Jerry and the four pups were put in the large yard upon its completion. Achilles arrived around the end of May 1921, so I believe that the first yard was completed by May, before Achilles' arrival.

2This is an assumption I have made based on The Lone Killer (page 10). Dr. McCleery states that he had asked Mr. Jones and his son to nail a strong wire fence to the posts in the alley, but they could not do so because Achilles objected so ferociously. I assume therefore that they were in his pen or near enough that he could potentially do them harm. On the same page, Dr. McCleery states that Achilles' pen at the time (shortly after obtaining him in May 1921, so maybe June or July) was 100 square feet, whereas the Hurri-Kane in 1926 states that each pen was 50 square feet.

3Most of the photos I have seen dated before 1929 show the wolf pens constructed of wire nailed to wooden posts. A few of the photos I have seen from this time period also show metal poles with slightly diagonal ends at the top.

Learn More

Find out more about the Kane, PA park by exploring the Locations - McCleery's Property tag in the archive.

See photos of the Kane, PA wolf park here.