Friday, March 11, 2005

Wolves by Candace Savage

A Book Review by Zinta Aistars

# Hardcover: 159 pages
# Publisher: Random House, Inc., 1989
# ISBN: 0871566893
# $29.95

Few creatures have been so misunderstood, so shrouded in myth... and such inaccurate myth... as canis lupus, the wolf. Wild and beautiful, in my mind the most beautiful of all creatures still walking our earth today (although in painfully diminishing and harrassed numbers), the wolf inspires fear in many. But then, ignorance often inspires fear. We need books such as this one - with text and photographic selection by Candace Savage, foreword by L. David Mech - to banish such ignorance and reveal to us something of this wild and wonderful animal. For not only is he beautiful, but he is also highly intelligent, and, yes, highly "civilized" in his ways.

Henry Thoreau, author of another of my favorite books, "Walden", said: "In wildness is the preservation of the world." I believe this with all the healthy wildness in my heart. On a journey some years ago to Alaska, I brought along little luggage, but many books... and many of these were about wolves. I realized how little I knew about this incredible animal. Like so many, I knew more the myth reaching back to my own childhood... the nasty child-eating beast of Red Riding Hood, the ravaging monster harrassing three little pigs.... and, later, Jack London's Call of the Wild. I saw movies that portrayed the wolf as a fearsome monster who freely stalked and killed human beings. I visited museums where the taxidermist had so positioned the wolf as to fully expose bloodied fangs in a nightmarish snarl, dear little bunnies lying gutted in the red snow before him. The wolf kills, as all animals must to survive and eat and feed their young, but the more I read and researched this animal, the more I was impressed with his intelligence and integrity. The first myth to go was the one that wolves will hunt down and attack a human being. That is simply false. They are intelligent enough to avoid if at all possible every encounter with man, but will defend themselves and their young with respectable ferocity. Rarely have I known of any species that has such a strong sense of family as does the wolf. If only we cared and nurtured our young as does a pack of wolves... Faithful for life to his mate, the wolf not only provides nourishment for his young, but fosters a sense of family that we can only envy in our society of broken families and latch-key children.

This book provides not only fascinating information about wolves, but is filled with a breathtaking selection of photography that allows the reader a glimpse into the lives of these magnificent animals. I would follow this book up with an evening in a log cabin, fireplace roaring, wolves on the snowy horizon singing, with my favorite movie, "Never Cry Wolf," based on Farley Mowfat's book by the same name.

No comments: