- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) - A $1.4 million wolf habitat that opened Monday at the Detroit Zoo includes grassy hills and meadows, trees, a stream and pond, wolf dens and elevated rock outcroppings from which the wolves can survey their surroundings.

The 2-acre “Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness” is located in the southwest corner of the zoo in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak. Events are taking place Monday to mark the opening of the sanctuary, which also allows the wolves to keep an eye on zoo visitors.

“Our goal is to provide the wolves with a wonderful home and also to educate our guests about these … predators and their importance to Michigan’s ecology,” Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society executive director and CEO, said in a statement.

The family of Shery and David Cotton donated $500,000 toward the development of the habitat, which is the new home of two gray wolves - 7-year-old female Waziyata and 5-year-old male Kaskapahtew. The Canadian-born wolves arrived from the Minnesota Zoo earlier this year.

Visitors named “Wolf” or featuring variations of the word can roam free at the Detroit Zoo. Admission is free to anyone with valid photo identification that shows a first, middle or last name containing “wolf” in some form. That includes “Wulff,” ”Wulfmeier” and “Wolfe.”

In conjunction with the opening, a National Geographic photo exhibition titled “The Hidden Life of Wolves” will be displayed through Oct. 24. The traveling exhibition includes 21 images by filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who observed wolves for six years.

The collection of photographs is intended to dispel myths about wolves and educate visitors about the importance of protecting them.

“We’ve all heard stories of the ‘big, bad wolf’, but that reputation is undeserved,” Mr. Kagan said. “Wolves are close cousins to man’s best friend and, as such, are highly intelligent, social creatures.”

The photo exhibit is free with zoo admission.

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