CHIPLEY — In the heart of this sleepy rural community in Northwest Florida, a group of residents has been known to howl at the moon. Their hair is long and unkempt, they typically have long noses and large teeth, but they usually will greet you with a wide grin and might even lick your hand.


CHIPLEY — In the heart of this sleepy rural community in Northwest Florida, a group of residents has been known to howl at the moon.  Their hair is long and unkempt, they typically have long noses and large teeth, but they usually will greet you with a wide grin and might even lick your hand.  



 Seacrest Wolf Preserve is one of the only places in North America where wild wolves live and breed in captivity, and visitors get to meet with them, face-to-face, up close and personal.



Co-owner Cynthia Watkins says visitors may leave the event with a better understanding of the plight of this endangered species.



 “Wolves get a bad rap, most of which is unfounded and unfair,” Watkins explains.  “These animals are gentle, social creatures and don’t fit the mold of the myths, legends and horror stories of which they have been a part for centuries.”



 Watkins has announced that Seacrest Wolf Preserve is prepared for the 11th Annual ‘Howl-O-Ween’ event, held each year at the facility, and is one of the main fundraisers which allow the efforts of Cynthia, husband Wayne and a very large number of volunteers to continue.



 This year’s event is Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21, with hours on Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday 9:30 a.m. 5 p.m.  Admission is free, and attendees can then purchase tickets for the exciting events on the preserve grounds.



 Features of the event include rare hands-on Wolf Encounter Tours, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday.  Hug the skunks, feed the raccoons, and play with the fox at the “Small Animal Adventure” while enjoying fun hayrides, great food, raffle baskets, a bonfire on Saturday evening, storytelling and a “Dog-O-Ween” Costume Contest.



 Camping is available near the wolves, by reservation with advance deposit, starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, with unlimited primitive camping and a limited number of electrical hook-ups available.



“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have this kind of close interaction with wild wolves,” said Watkins, “and we have visitors from literally all over the world spend time here with us to study these beautiful animals.”



 Seacrest Wolf Preserve is a 501c3 non-profit corporation and the event is partially underwritten by the Washington County Tourist Development Council and supported by a large number of volunteers.



 “Without these passionate volunteers we could literally not afford to maintain this facility and this work,” says Wayne Watkins.  “It’s amazing to see these folks come from quite long distances to spend hours at our preserve, communing with these marvelous creatures.”



 More information can be found at www.SeacrestWolfPreserve.org.