Red River Zoo's 'wolf mom' celebrates milestone
A woman known to many as "wolf mom" is about to celebrate the tenth birthday of two fluffy mammals.
On the highest hill in the Red River Zoo sits one woman's dream job.
Nicole Lee says it all started as a volunteer gig in the early 2000s.
Then in 2008, young Moose and Ella moved to Fargo.
For an entire summer, Lee stayed overnight with the wolf pups at the zoo to socialize them.
"Our goal was to interact with them in ways that we wanted to interact with them when they were adults. So playing was off limits," said Nicole.
She says it's not like raising a pet dog.
"Any type of play behavior could turn dangerous at any point. No fetch, no tug of war," said Nicole.
They did get the wolves used to being handled for medical care thanks to a heaping dose of peanut butter.
"Jump up, good boy," Nicole says, "So this allows us to look at their paws, it allows us to look at their mouth, their face."
The rest of the wolves came in 2015, but unlike Moose and Ella, they were not hand raised.
It took a little longer to get them used to humans.
One thing they're all used to, is people trying to speak their language.
"I think they've kind of become desensitized to human howling because we have so many visitors and everybody wants to try and howl with the wolves," said Nicole.
She says the pack forms a hierarchy.
"When they disagree on things like pee spots and snacks, they sort it out by themselves," said Nicole.
Her biggest challenge as mother started three years ago when she had Murron, her first human baby.
"I was up all night with the infants and I was up all night with these guys. So it's a kind of similar as far as that goes. But the human children are a little more demanding than these guys were," said Nicole.
They say being a mother is a full time job.
In some sense, Nicole found a way to get paid for it.