Born on April 24, 1989
Arrived at Mission: Wolf on August 1, 1992
Passed away on March 5, 2001
Lived with Mira
Ballazar was an eastern gray wolf, born in a Minnesota zoo in 1989. For two years, he was part of an educational exhibit at the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN. A film producer working on a wolf documentary, Jim Dutcher, arranged to have Ballazar transferred to Idaho where he was placed with an adult female wolf and several unrelated pups. Hopes were high to film the newly formed “pack” along with the mating and birthing of wolf pups. It took only a short time to realize that Ballazar did not bond with his new girlfriend. The next year, Ballazar challenged the filmmaker and forced him out of the enclosure. This was the end of Ballazar’s short-lived acting career, though he was still featured as the alpha male (a.k.a. Akai) in the film “Wolf: Return of a Legend.” The filmmaker then asked us to take in Ballazar, and we agreed.
We traveled 100 miles to the airport where we received a very delirious and heavily sedated Ballazar. His recovery from the tranquilizers was slow, and he suffered high stress from the drugs and the sudden move. He was depressed and upset about being removed from the movie project and the wolf family he had known. He showed severe aggression toward his proposed mate, Mera. Within four months Ballazar was a pacing basket case, afraid of everything and aggressive if people came too close. He started to chew on himself in fits of anxiety, resulting in a hole the size of a baseball in his leg. The veterinarian recommended we euthanize him.
When mating season started that winter, a new attitude took over the refuge. Soon Ballazar was found fence to fence with Mera, happily wagging his tail. These two became the flirts of the refuge, with Ballazar so distracted by showing off for Mera that he forgot to chew on his legs and the wounds began to heal. After only a short time, he was downright demanding to be let in with Mera. When the day finally came to open the gate between them, the happiness he expressed as he bounded up the hill with her by his side was unparalleled. For the rest of their lives together, they were never seen far apart. With Ballazar by her side, the extremely shy Mera started to come out of her shell and would occasionally walk up to the fence to sniff a visitor or receive attention from the staff.
On the morning of March 6, 2001, staff members found Ballazar unable to stand. He was rushed to the veterinarian in Colorado Springs where he passed away on the operating table of heart failure at the age of twelve. Mera lived for five more months and reached the ripe old age of fifteen. After the death of her beloved mate, she slowly went downhill until she passed away quietly on the evening of August 26, 2001. These two will always be remembered for their incredibly tight bond and the affection they always shared with each other.