In 1977, you'd find as many sticks in a pack of gum as the number of Mexican gray wolves that roamed North America. Five lonely wolves remained in the wild at the time; gun-wielding ranchers had nearly driven the species extinct. Some 25 years later, the number of Mexican grays has grown to 43 in the wild, with 100 thriving in captivity.
And why should you care? Among other good reasons, if you mess with nature, sooner or later you're talking about an impact on the lives of people.
"Animals balance the ecosystem," explains Pamela Rout, educational coordinator for the Wild Canid Center in Lone Elk Park. "We try to drive home the importance of wolves being reintroduced into the wild."
The Center presents the lecture "Wolf: The Long Road To Recovery" at 3 p.m. in Lone Elk Park as part of a once-a-month series of hour-long presentations. Learn about the center's pivotal role in protecting the populations of various endangered canids. Admission is $3, half of which supports the Center (North Outer I-44 near Route 141, 636-938-5900). -- Thomas R. Raber
Young Man River
Kids wade into the arts
Several definitions of the word "camp" could apply to ArtsINTERsection, a weeklong performing-arts program for kids taking place July 7-11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. The five days of acting, singing and dancing geared towards the 7-12 age range have been developed by the Metro Theater Company, a locally based, nationally-toured children's theater group (meaning theater for kids, not by kids).
This year's ArtsINTERsection incarnation is centered around a "two rivers" theme; students will work on songs, steps, and scripts that "creatively explore the Mississippi and Missouri rivers' influence on the folklore, history and culture of our community," says Ken Anderson, special events coordinator for the museum. Tuition is $195 per child, with a $25 discount for each additional child from the same family. For more information or to sign up, call Metro Theater Company's Emily Petkewich at 314-997-6777, or go to www.metrotheatercompany.org. -- Rose Martelli
Hug Those Bugs
There is no better harbinger of summer's arrival than lightning bugs. The little will-o'-wisps appear as if by magic one night, and for a few, brief months, they fill the late evening with drifting globes of tremulous light. Kids chase 'em and trap 'em in jars, or worse, tear off their bulbs and smear them on their clothes for temporary glow-in-the-dark shirts, but there's no need for such senseless brutality. The family dog doesn't want luminescent stripes, so don't try to give him any. It is far kinder, and more entertaining, to catch them with bare hands. Even if you're not a kid anymore, you'll feel like one when you stand knee-deep in the grass while the sun dips below the horizon, cupping your palms around a fluttering lightning bug as the light spills from between your fingers. -- Paul Friswold