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Lockport sanctuary home to wild animals

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
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John Basile has answered the call of the wild by providing a sanctuary for unwanted animals- including cougars, wolves and a mountain lion.

At the Lockport ranch, Basile is sparing with a 450-pound bear that just woke up after his winter sleep. He's one of many animals that lives at Big Run Wolf Ranch.

"Two thirds of the animals are rescues....so basically this place was their last stop before euthanasia," said Basile. "They're given a permanent home and they stay here the rest of their lives and are used for wild life education with the kids."

The ranch is a federally licensed not for profit educational facility that keeps Basile busy most of the day. At night, Basile works as a ups diesel mechanic.

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"I request to work the midnight shift then when the kids come out for field trips. That gives me daylight to maintain this place. I'm getting away lately with three or four hours of sleep," said Basile.

Created in 1986, the ranch is a major attraction for school kids. Last year, 20,000 students visited Big Run Wolf.

The animals include timber wolves, cougars, lynxes and a lone llama. Also, an assortment of colorful birds.

"I'm a biology teacher so I bring my kids out here every year and I incorporate it into my curriculum," said Julie, Basile's wife. "They love it."

Basile was selected as a finalist for a UPS Global Community Service award this year.

"We're gonna have camping for the kids out here...and all eleven wolves will howl probably five or six times," said Basile. "Where can you find a campground in the state of Illinois where you have eleven wolves waking you up? I think they'll get a big kick out of that."

To learn more about the ranch, visit BigRunWolfRanch.org

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