By Danny Baggot @DAN_BAGGIE
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Videographer / director: Gerrit Messersmith
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ruby Coote
Editor: Beth Angus
Giant wolf dog Yuki resides in the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Florida, an exotic animal sanctuary that rescues abandoned animals that were bred to be pets. The impressive wolf dog currently weighs over 120lbs and his DNA is a mix of 87.5 percent Gray Wolf, 8.6 percent Siberian Husky and 3.9 percent German Shepherd.
With his striking looks, Yuki has been building up a spectacular social media following. Yuki has over 100,000 followers on the wolf dog’s dedicated Instagram page and his previous contribution to the Beastly channel has amassed nearly 2 million views on YouTube. Besides that, Game of Thrones fans often compare Yuki to the fantasy drama’s very popular dire wolves.
It’s fair to say Yuki has become somewhat of an internet star and Sanctuary Director Jeremy Albrecht agrees that Yuki has been a wonderful public ambassador for the sanctuary.
However, it’s this shot to fame that might have gotten to Yuki’s head a little. Where the temperamental wolf dog used to accept a mix of male and female carers into his enclosure, but he has recently become a bit pickier.
Senior Volunteer Katie explains she used to be allowed into Yuki’s enclosure, but he recently kicked her out.
As Katie’s colleague Judy explained: “To watch Yuki kick somebody out of his enclosure, it's not a good thing. He will show those big pearly whites and growl and let you know that you need to back up and leave the enclosure.”
Slowly the star has decided which of the Shy Wolf Sanctuary volunteers have the X-factor, and Yuki seems to prefer the female kind.
Judy said: “I am one of only four people that does interact with Yuki now. One by one I watched him literally kicked the men out of the enclosure. And then he brought his, what we call his harem of women to down to just less than a handful.”
Despite his rock star manners, each and every volunteer at Shy Wolf have a special place in their heart for Yuki. Which made it all the more difficult when they found out the impressive animal is terminally ill.
Jeremy explained: “Yuki has a form of blood cancer that we've seen before, where it sort of manifests as a nerve sheet tumour on the leg. And so we had a large lump removed from his leg, that’s when we found out that he was ill in a way that we weren't going to be able to fix.”
Since his diagnosis a year ago the team monitor Yuki closely, making sure he’s not limping or showing any other signs of worsening of his illness. Surprisingly, Jeremy actually thinks Yuki looks healthier now than he did ten months ago.
One of Yuki’s carers, Brittany said: “I believe that Yuki just loves to have human companions, the ones that he selects obviously. But I believe he really just loves the attention. He loves being looked at. He loves being, basically…adored.”