You might have noticed that it’s been raining just a bit over the last couple of weeks.  Spring has come early this year and it’s that season where we watch the water rise as Lookout Creek swells. If you stop by, you’ll see that the treehouse is not accessible right now, and some of our trails have temporarily become one with Lookout Creek. Most years, we deal with flooding - it’s a natural and welcome part of our landscape. And don’t worry, our Animal Ambassadors are always relocated long before the water gets high.

One of the things that makes Reflection Riding so unique is that it houses a variety of landscapes — including swampy areas. The floodplain under the boardwalk is a naturally occurring environment and is integral to many amphibians, fish, and birds as a nursery, source of food, and home; it’s also nature’s sponge. Floodplains and swamps purify water by absorbing waste and runoff into the soil and roots of plants, and what the plants do not use gradually collects at the bottom of the swamp as sediment. They also absorb excess water as levels begin to rise, limiting the damaging effects of flooding

So while flooding is a natural occurrence that we consider a seasonal norm here, it is also important to note that floods become much more damaging once wetlands, our natural barriers, are removed. Wetlands are one of the most biodiverse places on earth! We are proud to protect them. In our upcoming Master Planning process, we will consider the entire property, including the floodplain and placement of structures, to respect the importance of this area (and not have a treehouse half-full of water). 

We hope you’ll continue to support our work protecting wetlands, and much more as we reconnect Chattanoogans to nature. There are so many ways to get involved - you can donatebecome a membervolunteer, even remember Reflection Riding in your estate plans. You might even head out this weekend to see the flooding -  it’s pretty amazing. If you can’t make it out, or even if you can, check out these drone pictures from one of our supporters, Jeff Guenther. There’s nothing as amazing as seeing Mother Nature at work. 


Mark McKnight



PS - Check out this cool article about swamps from Nat Geo, too:

Posted by Mark McKnight

In memory of Kane the red wolf

January 28th, 2020

80 lbs of handsome, dominance, confidence and brawn. That was male red wolf 1390, better known as Kane. 

A good looking red wolf with a handsome smile and a notorious history, Kane was known around the red wolf cooperators as one who didn’t play nice with his female companions. In fact, he could be considered a bully. He kept his female companions from eating, while he ate all the food. Most of his companions had to be removed from the habitat and Kane was subsequently transferred to another facility to play his games again. 

Several facilities where he lived had some fond stories to share about his dominant, yet endearing personality. Kim Wheeler, president of the Red Wolf Coalition affectionately remembers Kane’s bold attitude. She recalls a time he stole a camera bag from a biologist who was photographing him and a game of tug o’ war ensued. Kim gave Kane his name. She recalls thinking it just seemed fitting to his strong, confident personality. 

Kane was known to approach his caregivers and one facility recalls him mock charging them. In his younger years, he was fond of female caregivers and was known to run the fence line with them as they walked by. By the time Kane came to Reflection, he had developed a bad boy reputation, but was definitely revered, admired and loved.

I’ll never forget the phone call I got from Red Wolf Species Survival Plan captive coordinator Will Waddell. After hellos and how are yous were exchanged, his somewhat hesitating words were, “so, I’ve got this wolf….” Knowing Will, I knew there was something more to his statement and its content. Will went on to tell me that Kane had been aggressive toward the females he was housed with and came way too close to caregivers. Will knew I had a lone female and I knew she could handle herself, even though she was small. The proper paperwork was completed and we awaited transfer. 

When Kane arrived, we were awed by his size, handsomeness and his laid back attitude toward us. When a red wolf arrives at a new facility, the animal is usually timid, unsure and spends time hiding, but not Kane. We loaded him into our isolation habitat for an acclimation period and he was out investigating, curious and definitely interested in us, even taking a rat from us. He held his head high and was so sure of himself. The defining moment would arrive when he would go into the habitat that his new companion, Mom, lived in. He would be arriving on her turf. Keep in mind, Mom is a small female with a dominant, matriarchal personality. During Kane’s time in isolation, he could smell and see Mom, so he knew quite a bit about her. 

The day came for us to allow Kane into the enclosure with Mom. As Kane left isolation and walked into Mom’s enclosure, we were hopeful and nervous. They both approached a pile of deer meat we had left for them and I remember thinking, this is it, the moment of truth. As Kane went in to take what he wanted, Mom approached him from the backside and promptly bit him in the rear haunch! At that moment, Kane had met his match and we knew this pairing was going to work. Mom continued to keep Kane in check, barking at him, biting him and making him play fairly. As the years went by, there were times Kane would challenge her, but it was never more than a snarl or small charge.

Kane became a wonderful companion to Mom and an excellent exhibit animal. He was readily visible for guests, he howled often and loudly and was a magnificently beautiful animal.

Mom reminded Kane how to be respectful and kind and their relationship was fair and amicable.

Kane lived out his life with us at Reflection and we all had very warm feelings for him. His illness was thankfully brief. He left us with so many memories and was a wolf no one will ever forget.

What tracks will you leave behind? Kane leaves us as beauty, not beast. Vital, not vicious. Fierce, fabulous and a favorite.

Eulogy by Tish Gailmard, Director of Wildlife

Below is the obituary for Kane the red wolf.

Kane, Canis rufus, died on January 4, 2020  at the age of 14y 9m after a brief battle with gallbladder cancer. 

Kane was born into a litter of 5 (3.2)  in Asheboro, NC at the North Carolina Zoo on April 22, 2005 and was assigned studbook number 1390 . As a member of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, he was transferred to different facilities based on the needs of the population. He later moved to Durham Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. He was then transferred to Sandy Ridge, NC which is the small, private location for the wild release site at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. He then transferred to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Jacksonville, FL where he stayed for approximately 2 years before going to Jackson Zoo, Jackson, MS for about 1 year. 

Kane then came to Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center on December 9, 2012 at 7y 8m. He lived peacefully as a companion with female red wolf 1275 in a large habitat.

He is preceded in death by his sire, red wolf 1125 and dam, red wolf 1197 and 2 male siblings, red wolf 1389 and 1391 and 1 female sibling red wolf 1393. He is survived by one female sibling red wolf 1392 of North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, NC and numerous cousins.

Kane participated in many scientific studies including several on irritable bowel disease with the Smithsonian Conservation Research Center, a study with North Carolina State University on progressive retinal atrophy and many college level studies on the relationships between enclosure mates and breeding pairs. Additionally, his sperm is cryogenically stored in a sperm bank for future in vitro fertilization use. Kane could be easily seen by his public and was often heard howling with his peers.

He will be fondly remembered as a dominant, very handsome male who represented the red wolf species with confidence, grace and confirmation.

Support our work. Adopt a wolf today.

Our symbolic adoptions keep our endangered American red wolf program going year-round. Plus they make great gifts!

Posted by Tish Gailmard

Why I give

By Lisa Lemza

"Change is hard."  It is dangerous; it invites failure — or fabulous new and different failures; it requires us to leave the cherished security of our cozy current state, even when that state is miserable .  And, it is the most inevitable and constant absolute of mortal life.

Change can be 'for the worse' of course.  The current desolation in our dynamic but beautiful and intricately balanced natural world indicates how very bad 'change' can be.

Change is uncomfortable.  It is scary, and more than occasionally outright terrifying. Some seek it eagerly; most of us resist kicking and screaming and are dragged into the future leaving claw marks.  But change also brings renewal, inspired leadership, creative collaboration, and the grace of yet another chance to get it right.

I believe that Reflection Riding's experiencing such a pivotal moment.  It is why I have given them my hard earned money. The gentle wisdom and sanctuary it has long offered seems now seems crackling with a different and vibrant energy, bringing  wider participation, more access, and clear advocacy. I especially appreciate its use of good science while healing the degraded natural systems in this regional treasure. I sense the lively shipyard energy of an ark being built, one dedicated to restoration, education, and the preservation of this good earth and its creatures.

Where will it end?  Well, let's see. This is why I give.

Ready to help?

Join, donate, volunteer.

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: giving tuesday

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