HomeOutdoorsNewsTennessee Wildlife Park Forced to Euthanize Gray Wolf ‘Takoda’

Tennessee Wildlife Park Forced to Euthanize Gray Wolf ‘Takoda’

by Jon D. B.
gray wolf with black coat
Black phase Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Grey Wolf Portrait in fresh snow, USA. (Photo by: Dennis Fast / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“Takoda was a strong female that led the pack at the park for many years,” offers Megan Krager, Bays Mountain Park manager, of the gray wolf.

Beloved by Krager and all Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium staff, Takoda had to be euthanized last week. “She will be greatly missed by not only the park staff, but the community and region,” Krager adds for Bay Mountain’s news release. According to a news release by the Tennessee city of Kingsport, Takoda had an ear injury that led to a severe infection. University of Tennessee’s veterinary staff would euthanize her as a result.

No further details on Takoda’s condition, or why she was unable to recover, have been made public. But Kingsport’s Bays Mountain Park had been her home since she was a pup. Takoda was born in Sandstone, Minnesota in April of 2014, and after transfer to the park, she would grow into the well-respected leader of their pack.

Visitors loved Takoda for her “rambunctious nature” and will sorely miss her musical howling.

“Takoda was a strong leader from the time she was a young wolf,” park naturalist Rhonda Goins laments. “She enjoyed howling and was always willing to put on a show for visitors. She was a good but strict leader, the kind every pack needs.”

The gray wolf (Canis lupus), once one of the most populous mammals in North America, continues to be threatened with extinction by humanity. Parks such as Bays Mountain conserve the species in captivity. The Kingsport facility, which boasts 3,750 acre nature preserve and is the largest city park in the state of Tennessee, is not wholly conservational, however.

Bays Mountain Park’s Gray Wolves

Instead, Bays Mountain “features a wonderful collection of animals that are native to the area,” the park states on their website. Nature parks such as this one were once common. Nashville’s own precursor became what is now our AZA-accredited Nashville Zoo, for example.

Across the country, nature parks have often bred or housed local wildlife species. They provide visitors a chance to see wildlife, learn about them, and appreciate their existence. Many also rehabilitate wildlife that can no longer survive in the wild alongside.

“Bays Mountain’s wolves have been captive born and socialized to people. This means that they are accustom to having people around but are not tame,” the park describes. This has been a common practice throughout nature parks worldwide. But as society grows wary of breeding animals for the sole purpose of captivity, fewer parks are able to exist.

There’s no easy answer to whether such parks should or should not exist. In order for humanity to care about and fight to protect species such as the endangered gray wolf, however, nature parks like Bays Mountain may be a necessity.