A staff member is shown with one of the wolves at Big Run Wolf Ranch in Lockport, Ill. A family day and open house is planned Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 at the facility. | Photo provided
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:39PM
Close encounters with a bear, wolves, a cougar, a porcupine, and birds of prey are just part of the experience at the family day and open house on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Big Run Wolf Ranch in Lockport, Ill.
“Big Run is a wildlife rescue and education facility specializing in North American wildlife. It’s a seven-acre, nonprofit federally licensed preserve where we try to educate generations of the public about the presence of these animals in the wild, and about what we can do to protect wildlife for years to come,” said Lori Trathen of Big Run Wolf Ranch.
She said that the facility is currently home to about 30 animals in addition to the domesticated animals on the site’s mini-farm, which includes ponies, roosters and guineas.
At Saturday’s family day and open house, visitors can tour the facility and see the animals in their enclosures, and roughly once every hour one of the resident or guest animals will be brought out for an educational program.
“One of the favorites of visitors is Kuma the bear. He was actually rescued from a highrise building where someone bought him to keep him as a pet. Big Run gives a home to many animals like Kuma when the only alternative was euthanasia. He was just a little cub when he came here, and was hand-raised here by John (Basile, Big Run president). Now he’s over seven feet tall,” said Trathen.
Programs with Kuma are tentatively scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.
“Other favorites are Wilson the groundhog, Charlie the cougar, and the wolves,” Trathen said. “We have a little wolf pup right now that, depending on his temperament that day, visitors might even get to pet. It’s great for kids to see these animals up close and learn about them, and learn not to fear them but to respect them and their role in nature.”
Dave’s Birds of Prey will be one of the special guests at the family day and open house, with programs tentatively scheduled for noon and 2 p.m. The event will also include Darren Curt’s Comedy Magic, and an appearance by Spunky the monkey. There is a gift shop and food concession on site.
The open house will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $4 for all ages.
Parking for Big Run is at the nearby Wal-Mart, 16241 Farrell Road, with a free shuttle bus to the open house. Take Interstate 80 west to the Interstate 355 Veterans Memorial Tollway north. Exit on 159th Street and turn left toward Lockport, and turn left in about a mile at Farrell Road. The drive is about an hour from Northwest Indiana.
Trathen said that Big Run’s animals are also available for adoption. The $25 minimum adoption fee helps Big Run to feed the animals, while adoptive parents get a certificate and photo of their animals in addition to an invitation to a VIP event.
For more information, visit www.bigrunwolfranch.org.