M943. That’s his official name. The one designated to him at birth by lineage and the alpha numeric coding system that designates a unique number to each Mexican Gray Wolf. Himuti is the name by which he was known affectionately at The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona where he lived for 8 of his 11 years of life. Himuti (He-moo-tea) means “proud of one’s self” in the Native American Hopi language. Maybe it was his deep golden eyes or his quiet self-confidence that earned him the name Himuti as a pup. For us at Yoga Democracy, having decided that we wanted to become involved with the Center, all we needed was a wolf-one of their wolves. The design for Lobo needed to be personal to the Center. After all, we wanted to raise money for them, for the costs of housing their Mexican Gray Wolves including Himuti and for caring for the rest of their 300 animals.
The Center has recently faced serious challenges. A lawsuit brought by a disgruntled neighbor has pushed the non-profit to the brink of extinction itself, ironic given the tireless work it has carried out on behalf of the Mexican Gray Wolf, of which fewer than 100 continue to exist in the wild. The Center provides sanctuary for 16 of these beautiful animals without the benefit of any state or federal funding. It’s wolf housing program is vital to re-establishing the species in the wild. It is reliant on donations and income earned from educational tours. Those same education tours which it has been forced to scale back as it defends itself against the lawsuit.
As the owner of the company I was sent a wolf line up by Southwest. How could I not choose Himuti? No more photogenic a wolf was I likely to find. I mean, those eyes…Other than his good looks, I had no particular reason to have chosen him. Little did I know however, how fascinating a back story he actually had.
He was in fact the great grandson of Don Diego (M2) the last wild caught Mexican Gray Wolf to be taken into captivity as part of Recovery program that followed the species addition to the Endangered Species List in 1976. Wolves are not an easy sell in the New Mexico and Arizona territory that is their traditional range. State v federal politics, ranchers, human encroachment and general misunderstanding of the species have slowed the recovery program notably when it comes to releasing pups and captive born wolves into the designated recovery area. In many ways therefore Himuti is representative of where the species stands today; cared for with the support of centers like Southwest but in limbo as bureaucracy and public fears collude to block them from returning home. Three generations of wolves, raised and housed at centers like Southwest. As of 2016, wolves housed as part of the wolf recovery program outnumber wild wolves by almost 3:1.
For a wolf family is everything. Highly intelligent animals, they mate for life and display mourning behavior when a member of their pack and in particular their mate passes away. Himuti’s parents Picaron and Tanamara were a particularly poignant example. Both born in captivity and designated M520 and F547 respectively they formed an exceptionally close bond.
“Tanamara was eventually paired with Picaron, her true lifelong companion, whose deep, baritone howl stood out from the moment he arrived. Their chemistry was instant, and over their years together, the couple substantially contributed to the survival of their species, delivering three litters of pups. In 2009, Tanamara passed away. When she died, Picaron howled for so long and so often that he permanently damaged his vocal cords. His life, and his magnificent howl, were never the same without her.”
When I picked that beautiful face out of my wolf line-up, I didn’t know Himuti had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2015. We began working on Lobo in late March, sadly Himuti passed away peacefully at Southwest on April 4th this year at the age of 11.
During his lifetime, Himuti contributed to our knowledge of the Mexican Gray and has been an ambassador for his species, while his parents and their beautiful love story inspires and educates all who hear it. I cannot think of a more suitable send-off than to use his image for Lobo, to raise funds for the wonderful work carried on by Southwest and awareness for the plight of his wolf brothers and sisters. We think Himuti would have approved.
“Proud of one’s self”
We think he has every right to be.
For more information on Southwest’s Mission and Programs check out
For more information on Himuti and his story check out
For more information on the challenges Southwest has been facing this year check out