Memory by Dr. Jack Thornton


A memory submitted by Dr. Jack Thornton, a retired veterinarian and former owner of Blue Mountain Animal Clinic in Port Angeles, WA regarding his experiences volunteering his veterinary services for Jack Lynch in Gardiner, WA. The initial interview was conducted by Kirsten Canfield over the phone. This memory was written by Kirsten Canfield based on that interview and then sent to Dr. Thornton for his corrections and approval of accuracy prior to posting.


Dr. Jack Thornton


Kirsten Canfield


March 4, 2014


Dr. Jack Thornton moved to the Sequim area in 1976, by which time Jack Lynch and his wolf preserve were already established. At the time, Dr. Thornton worked for the Olympic Game Farm run by Lloyd Beebe, a competitor of Lynch’s. The Olympic Game Farm exhibited animals formerly used by Disney (such as Bozo – the bear who played “Ben” on the Grizzly Adams TV show – and other former animal TV stars) and was very popular, well-advertised, and had a high rate of tourism. It was more public-friendly than Lynch’s preserve. Additionally, Beebe had precedence over Lynch because Lloyd was raised (and possibly born) in the area.

Jack Lynch was off to the side in Gardiner with a smaller facility, maybe 20 acres, with a high cyclone fence around five acres in which his wolves ran free all together. Dr. Thornton heard that occasionally a wolf got out, but not while he was in the area. He had never heard of any problems that developed because of one of Lynch’s wolves escaping.

Lynch had a smattering of people who paid a nominal fee to visit the preserve. Dr. Thornton was interested in and passionate about wildlife, so he went out to meet Lynch and to see his facility and to volunteer his services to help in any way. Lynch went through his tourism routine and showed Dr. Thornton his wolves as he spoke about them. Lynch was dramatic about showing his animals. He would tell the history of a specimen and how it had torn out another wolf’s throat recently, and then Lynch would reach in to caress the beast. Lynch was adamant about visitors not touching the wolves, but demonstrated that he could because he was the “leader of the pack.”

Dr. Thornton only went to Lynch’s preserve maybe twice on calls. His most interesting case was the one about which he wrote “Wolfman Jack Led His Pack” in the Sequim Gazette. To Dr. Thornton, the most impressive part of that experience was watching Lynch crawl into the hole with the wolf to give the animal the painful, burning shot of anesthesia and then went to retrieve the sedated wolf ten minutes later, all without incident. On another occasion, Dr. Thornton bought some canine vaccines for Lynch’s animals to reduce Lynch’s expenses.

Lynch was not in Washington for very long; Dr. Thornton remembers him being there for maybe a year or a year and a half, but he doesn’t know how long Lynch was there before Dr. Thornton came to the area. He recalls Lynch saying he intended to move back to Pennsylvania. Dr. Thornton remembers locals mentioning that Lynch had trouble finding a place to relocate because many people were uncomfortable with having a pack of wolves next door.

Dr. Thornton surmised Lynch may have also worked with other veterinarians if he could have, but there were only two other practices in the Sequim area and neither wanted to do that sort of thing. They preferred not to work on horses, and were nervous about wild animals because they aren’t ideal patients in terms of practicing good medicine. Dr. Thornton doubts that Lynch worked much with other veterinarians, but does not remember any other veterinarians mentioning any negative interaction with Lynch, and they had been around for a long time before Dr. Thornton came to the area.

Dr. Thornton’s impression was that Lynch was “quite a character.” Lynch impressed Dr. Thornton as a highly dedicated and amazingly committed individual whose resources were used primarily to fund his wolves. He had a kind of renegade chip on his shoulder and acted not quite angry but a bit insolent about the Olympic Game Farm which was more subsidized and got more attention. For instance, when an animal (such as a horse) in the locality died, Lynch was in competition with Lloyd Beebe to acquire it, each needing it to feed their animals. Beebe was more organized; his Olympic Game Farm had more money, and he also offered to pick up the deceased animal so he was often the one to receive it.

Compared to Beebe’s wolves at the Olympic Game Farm, Dr. Thornton described Lynch’s wolves as more beautiful and spectacular. They were huge – maybe a good six feet tall when standing on their hind legs. Dr. Thornton remembers Lynch claiming to have the last of the prairie wolf subspecies, or something to that effect.

When asked about the name of Lynch’s wolf park (Loboland or the Pacific Wolf Preserve), Dr. Thornton said that the Pacific Wolf Preserve sounded very familiar, but that it could have been either. He doesn’t specifically remember any signs for Lynch’s preserve, but figured there might have been some. The Olympic Game Farm was overwhelmingly advertised in the area. Lloyd Beebe’s grandson has now taken over the Olympic Game Farm, which today is (in Dr. Thornton’s opinion) a shadow of what it used to be.