Rebecca Bose emerges from a wooded, rain-soaked hilltop wearing a black hooded sweatshirt that says, “got wolves?” in the style of the ’90s-era “got milk?” campaign. The North Salem native and head curator at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem may see it the other way—that the wolves got her.
As a child growing up in North Salem, her first love was horses.
“I remember in fourth grade, school would get out and I’d walk across the street from PQ over to Old Salem Farm. I was obsessed,” Bose said. “And I would beg, borrow and steal to ride.”
After graduating from North Salem High School, she majored in pre-veterinary science at Miami University of Ohio with the hopes of one day becoming a veterinarian.
Upon graduating from college, Rebecca applied to veterinary school but wasn't accepted. She began volunteering at the newly opened Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, using her training as a veterinary technician to care for the wolves at the Center.
“I didn’t apply to vet school a second time because it looked like I had a future here. And, what a unique place to be,” Bose said. “I was able to use my love of veterinary medicine and my love of wolves and the environment and put it all in one.”
A part-time role quickly evolved into a full-time staff position.
“You never know where life is going to put you and, who knew there would be wolves in my backyard?” she said.
Today, the Wolf Conservation Center has 11 staff members and 48 wolves. Bose is responsible for overseeing the health, nutrition and enrichment of all the wolves at the Center, a job that has taken her to places across the country including Washington, D.C., and New Mexico, educating others about wolves at museums, schools and national parks.
To those who wonder how someone can work amongst wolves—a species often vilified in popular culture—Bose is adamant that there are more myths than truths.
“Wolves have a bad rap,” she said. “We grew up with ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’ In Disney movies, the wolf is always the bad guy.”
She insists it’s a reputation they don’t deserve.
“Wolves are just like people,” she said. “They’re social; they care for one another; they live in family units.”
She shared the example of how wolf mothers behave when Center staff enter a den to do well checks on wolf pups.
“They’ll run away,” she said. “They’re that afraid of us that they won’t come and protect their young.”
Bose hopes that the programming at the Center will help open the public’s eyes to a new way of looking at them.
When she’s away from work, Bose and her partner, Chris Evers, like to travel around the world.
“We go one big trip a year,” she said.
Evers has his own slate of animals to look after as well. He’s the founder of Animal Embassy, a company dedicated to exotic animal rescue, adoption and environmental education.
The two have been to Africa, Mongolia, Galapagos, Borneo, Alaska and Belize. Her criteria for travel destinations? “Anywhere that’s wild; as wild as possible.”
At home, Bose maintains a deep love for North Salem. On days off, she loves to ride her horse on one of the many trails maintained by the North
Salem Bridle Trails Association. And, like many in town, she loves to stop in at Hayfield’s to rest and refuel.
“It’s my favorite market for food and community,” she said. “We are very privileged to live where we live.”