See the ‘Wolf Whisperer’ Cuddle With a Wild Killer Like It’s a Puppy Dog

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Published: February 6, 2023
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From their spine-tingling howling at night to their piercing gaze, wolves have inspired both fear and fascination for centuries. But there aren’t many people who would want to get too close to a wolf — and for good reason! These large carnivores have sharp teeth, a fierce reputation, and an incredibly strong bite force. In the video below, however, ‘Wolf Whisperer’ James Smith shows us how he isn’t afraid to interact with these large beasts. In fact, he gets up close and personal with wolves every single day! 

The ‘Wolf Whisperer’ and His Wolves

The video below depicts the unique relationship between a wild wolf named Nahkato and wolf whisperer James Smith. With an in-depth and hands-on understanding of animal behavior, as well as some exceptional energy control, Smith is a real-life wolf whisperer who continues to educate and provide a safe space for both humans and animals together.

Grey wolf looks straight ahead
If you’re hiking in wolf territory, you better know how to survive a wolf encounter!

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When it comes to wolves, everything revolves around trust, and let’s face it, these animals don’t trust just anybody. However, Nahkato and his sister Waffles have developed a rare and beautiful relationship with Smith. Smith is an animal handler at the Wild Animal Adventure Park in Stanton, Missouri, where these two wolves live. Unfortunately, their mother stopped caring for them when they were only a few days old. Smith stepped in and began to bottle-feed the two tiny wolf pups and care for them each day.

Now those two baby wolves are full-grown, 10-year-old adults — Nahkato weighs roughly 140 to 145 pounds! And yet Smith has no problem snuggling right up to this giant animal. In the video, you’ll see that Smith is actually relaxed even as Nahkato releases a few growls. Don’t worry though, Smith is smart; he knows that Nahkato is still a wild animal and could do some serious damage if he chose to. In fact, a wolf’s bite force is upwards of 1,600 pounds of pressure per square inch — that means with just a bite they can even crush bones! But Smith is extremely attuned to the wolves’ behaviors and moods and reinforces their bond each and every day (even on his days off!). 

This ‘Wolf Whisperer’ Is Also A  ‘Lion Dad’

Wolves are not the aggressive killers that Hollywood paints them out to be — in fact, Smith says it’s the lions you really have to watch out for. That’s right, not only is Smith a wolf whisperer but he’s also known as the ‘Lion Dad’! According to Smith, lions are much crankier than wolves are, so you have to pay extremely close attention to their moods and mood changes. As an animal handler and tour guide at Wild Animal Adventures Park, Smith educates the public on these beautiful but dangerous creatures, showing us a softer side to the kings of the jungle. In fact, the park’s female lion, Zella, sometimes sucks on Smith’s thumb like a baby!

The Wild Animal Adventure Park is located in Stanton, Missouri, and claims the title of “most interactive animal adventure in the Midwest.” Here you can see many wild animals up close, like lions, tigers, wolves, stingrays, sharks, dingoes, and alligators. All of the animals at the park have been rescued. Since they cannot return to the wild, they have become animal ambassadors to help teach people about their species. 

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About the Author

I have been a professional writer for 10 years with a particular focus on nature, wildlife, anthrozoology, and human-animal relationships. My areas of interest include human-animal studies, ecocriticism, vulnerable species, pets, and animal behavior. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in Comparative Studies, focusing on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the outdoors, watching movies, reading, creating art, and caring for my pets. Nothing brings me greater joy than a day spent in the company of animals.

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