The International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, is a world leader in the area of wolf research and conservation advocacy. The facility welcomes thousands of visitors from all around the world each year. One of the aspects that is unique to the center is its commitment to transparency with regard to the information they display. Though committed to conservation, the institution encourages visitors to become familiar with the full scope of the issues surrounding conservation. To this end, the research displayed and discussed here represents views from groups whose goals are not always in complete alignment with the wolf center’s point of view. In this way, visitors are encouraged to form their own opinions about the relevant issues concerning conservation. With engaging exhibits, educational outreach as well as live ambassador wolves, a visit to the International Wolf Center is bound to be an unforgettable adventure for the whole family.


Ely, Minnesota, has always been known for having a large wolf population. The largest, in fact, of all the lower 48 states in America. This fact made the location a no-brainer when it came time to choose a place to build the International Wolf Center. The center owes its start to the very successful and widely attended exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota titled Wolves and Humans. This award-winning 6,000-square-foot display went on to tour 19 cities across the nation. Dr. L. David Mech, a prominent wolf biologist, went on to form the committee that campaigned for a permanent home for the exhibit. The International Wolf Center was built as a result of the committee’s efforts and opened its doors in 1993. Five years later, the center saw the addition of 3,260 square feet of space, which included the wolf viewing theatre, additional classrooms, laboratory, and storage areas. Today, the center boasts a membership of 9,500 people. Its continuing outreach includes a distance learning program, a quarterly magazine, a live wolf webcam, international symposia, and unique nature expeditions. Scholars and lay people alike can benefit from the center’s commitment to delivering well-researched and balanced views on all issues pertaining to wolf behavior and conservation efforts.


Arctic Wolves

The International Wolf Center has recently welcomed two new members to its ambassador wolf pack, the Arctic wolf pups Axel and Grayson. In their new photo exhibit, visitors can see the way that these newcomers have acclimated to life in a new community. The photographer Heidi Pinkerton expertly captures the intricacies of the social dynamics inherent to wolf packs. Through her photos, visitors can learn about the trials and tribulations that the Arctic wolf pups went through before they were fully accepted by their new wolf family.

Ambassador Wolves

As the focal point of the entire center, the wolf ambassador pack exhibit always draws a crowd. The five wolves currently living in the museum’s 1.25-acre wolf enclosure all come from different parts of the country. The ambassador wolf pack is made up of two Rocky Mountain wolves, two Arctic wolves, and a Great Plains wolf. The large observation windows allow visitors to observe these majestic creatures up-close, in a way they would never be able to safely do in real life.

Wolves and Humans

Designed by the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Wolves and Humans exhibit allows visitors to learn more about the historical ties between humans and wolves. This is the original exhibit that spawned the creation of the center.

Wolves and the Wildlands of the 21st century

This travelling exhibit was a joint project between the Bell Museum of Natural History and the International Wolf Center. Its aim is to educate museumgoers about the unique challenges wolves face in several key regions across North America. As human activities continue to encroach on the ecosystems that wolves occupy, the wolves’ survival hangs in the balance.

By viewing this exhibit, museumgoers will gain a better understanding of some of the issues surrounding wolf conservation. Canada’s Northwest is home to the Arctic wolf, which has traditionally been hunted by the First Nations people living in the region. Today, with the use of snowmobiles and specially designed rifles, some contend that this practice is no longer ethical as it gives humans an unfair advantage over their prey. At the same time, the wolf population seems quite resilient as every year enough pups are born to replace the wolves lost through hunting and natural causes. By understanding some of the key issues at play, visitors will be able to formulate an informed opinion about animal rights and wolf conservation issues.

1396 MN-169, Ely, MN 55731, Phone: 218-365-4695

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