We learned over the weekend that Atka, an old friend of ours, died peacefully at his home at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem.
In a statement Sept. 22 on its website, nywolf.org, the organization said: “It is with deep sorrow that we share news about the most magnificent wolf we have ever known. Atka died in his sleep early this morning; he was 16 years old.
“His passing was painless and peaceful with his family surrounding him. While Atka leaves a hole in our lives so big that words can’t describe it, his impact on wolf conservation persists and cannot be overstated.”
WAG came to know the mighty Arctic wolf and ambassador for the conservation center, which was founded in 1999 by pianist Hélène Grimaud, through articles on the center and coverage of events. In one in particular event, Atka walked the catwalk along with fashion models at Neiman Marcus in White Plains for a fundraiser on behalf of the wolf center. The handsome white furry wolf seemed right at home as he set his magnificent body down at the edge of the walkway among about 100 guests.
Born May 17, 2002, Atka arrived at the wolf center from Minnesota when he was just 8 days old. Atka, an Inuit name meaning guardian spirit, traveled near and far winning the hearts and minds of thousands of people. The 90-pound wolf retired as a traveling ambassador in 2016. But to keep him in contact with his large fan base, on his 15th birthday in May 2017, the center gave Atka his very own email account – firstname.lastname@example.org.
“He instilled compassion, understanding, and awareness to the hundreds of thousands of people he met over his storied career. We will be better and do better because Atka lived. He will empower us to continue the fight to safeguard the wild legacy he leaves behind,” the center said in a statement.
A memorial to celebrate Atka’s will be announced later this week.
Rest in peace.