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I’ve been to all kinds of zoos and wild animal parks. I’ve seen a trillion different animals in these settings, examples of animals who roam the wild somewhere in the world. But nothing prepared me for the shock of fear I experienced when I caught sight of one of the wolves at the California Wolf Center in Julian.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2012/may/31/25389/

I don’t know what it is exactly that makes wolves so scary to me, but they are. They're just so...wild. I didn’t even know I felt that way until I saw one emerge from behind a bush and approach the fence where I stood with Erin Hunt, the center’s general manager.

The fence was ten feet high with four feet of wire under the ground and four feet of overhang above, but the proximity was still unnerving. And thrilling.

The California Wolf Center currently has 19 wolves in 5 packs, two of which are “display packs” that they use in their public programs and private tours. The others are part of a special breeding program and are not allowed any kind of contact with the public.

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For $20 per person, on Saturdays (check their website for hours, as they change depending on the season), you can participate in a 2-hour program that includes an educational presentation, observation of two packs of wolves, and a 5x7 photo of one of the wolves.

On Sundays, $10 per person will get you an abbreviated presentation and observation of one wolf-pack.

Discounts are available for seniors, students, and military. Youth and educational groups can also receive discounts. Private tours are also available. Reservations for all tours and programs must be made in advance.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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