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Movie Review: “Stories of Wolves — the Lobo Returns” Teaches "The Web of Life"

Albuquerque Wellness Examiner November 5, 2011 (posted 11/13/2011)

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By George Peknik

One of the truths learned while researching and writing about wellness is that truly healthy living doesn’t just happen at the doctor’s office, the church, the clubhouse, the bank, or between the pages of a good book. The road to wellness is paved with decisions we make every day, including one that will be addressed in this and upcoming articles: “Inter-species Social Wellness,” thanks in a large part to a wonderful movie about the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf that was watched by a full house at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque last Saturday evening, October 29. The film, talk, and wolf blessing that preceded the film were the work of Albuquerquean Elke Duerr, who heads the Web Of Life Foundation that is “dedicated to creating a healthy coexistence between wilderness and civilization, the reconnection of humans to the natural world and the recovery of endangered plant and animal species.” “Inter-species Wellness” is actually part of a trio of upcoming article categories that also includes “environmental wellness” and “nature wellness.”

“Stories of Wolves —the Lobo Returns” is a finely filmed and edited  overview of the plight of wolves in general and of the Mexican Gray Wolf in New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico, as well as the truths about this animal over time, including how they are respected by the Natives who consider the wolf nothing short of a deity and, on the other hand,  how the wolf’s portrayal in children’s stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” has engendered many misguided myths and false beliefs about the wolf.


The Mexican Gray Wolf once lived well in central and southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas, and south all the way to Mexico City. After several years of post-Conquest decimation by ranchers trying to protect their livestock, hunters, and government extermination campaigns, the Mexican Gray Wolf’s howl is once again heard in the mountains and plains of the southwest. Like many species protected by the Endangered Species Act, the Mexican Gray Wolf is getting a second chance at life through a recovery program led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.  By the 1970’s, the Mexican gray wolf had been almost eliminated from the United States and Mexico. “We are privileged in New Mexico at a time when there are few places where we can peacefully co-exist with these marvelous animals,” said Elke before the film. “We share the space with them, and I feel that wolves often bring us beauty, healing, pleasure, love, and a sacred connection."

Nowadays, the Mexican Gray Wolf population area contains a wide belt crossing central New Mexico and Arizona, and 2400 square miles of lands managed by the White Mountain Apache Tribe are also open to Mexican Grays. People in central and western New Mexico are able to observe, photograph, and learn about wolves at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary south of Grants, New Mexico.

So what does this have to do with social wellness? Social wellness is the ability to get along and interact in an effective way with others—whether they are in one’s family, neighborhood, city, country, online, or in the world--while at the same time appreciating the diversity of people and maintaining satisfying relationships with them. Clearly, having healthy social relationships is key for one’s mental wellness.

Read the full article here.


“Stories of Wolves – The Lobo Returns” will be showing again on Friday, November 18th at 6:00 pm at the Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors Blvd, NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120.

To learn more click here.