Jun 14

Fur Real?!

Wolves can tolerate temperatures well below zero – can you? You can now, with a wolf fur hat from one of our very own Busch Gardens’ artisans, Carrie. Don’t worry, no wolves were harmed in the making of this hat. In fact, they donated the fur. Every spring our wolves, along with other wolves in warmer climates, shed their winter coats. The dense undercoat comes out in clumps. Last year we donated it to help soak up the oil in the Gulf. This year, we are turning it into yarn that can be knitted or woven. How, you might ask?

Carrie is a fiber spinner. She can turn just about any fiber, from animal hair to cotton and flax, into a useable yarn. Carrie is usually seen at the Highland Stables working with the Clydesdales, Border Collies and Scottish Blackface Sheep. But lately, she has been the star attraction at Emerald Isle Gifts, where she is spinning Busch Gardens’ wolves’ fur. Here’s the scoop on how it’s done.

She does this by blending the wolf fur with lamb’s wool, which came from Bonnie, one of our Scottish Blackface Sheep. The lamb’s wool is great for the elasticity of the yarn, but the wolf fur is what makes it super soft and fluffy. This blending of materials is done using a process called “carding” where she uses a large flat brush with wire bristles to essentially brush the two together. She will mix in colors, which also are wool fibers but have been dyed to the desired color. She uses a spinning or treadle wheel to literally spin the fur/wool mixture into a thread. Once it is spun into a thread, she plies it by folding it back on itself and letting it wind. This gives it a yarn look. The last step is to wash it to remove the dirt from the wolves’ fur.

Finally, it is ready, and more importantly, available to you. If you would like your own yarn made out of Busch Gardens’ wolf fur, head over to Emerald Isle gifts. Carrie has prepared quite a few yards of it. If you’re lucky, you might even see her spinning away. If you are interested in any of the products, like a hat or rug, you can bid on them at this year’s Spare Wolves Bowling Fundraiser. All proceeds of wolf fur products, as well as all entry fees for the fundraiser, will go directly to fund wolf conservation projects supported by the non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Keep checking back for more details regarding the fundraiser, and, in the meantime, head on over to Emerald Isle Gifts for your own wolf fur.