By Danny Baggott @dan_baggie
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Videographer / director: Gerrit Messersmith
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
With a DNA mix of 87.5% Gray Wolf, 8.6% Siberian Husky and 3.9% German Shepherd, it’s no wonder giant ‘dog’ Yuki, has caught the attention of social media.
Amassing over 40,000 Instagram followers, Yuki’s fame stems from a photo taken by a volunteer at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Florida, where he lives.
Volunteer Brittany Allen posted the picture of her and Yuki to her Instagram account and couldn’t believe the response.
Brittany told Barcroft TV: “I had an Instagram page kind of already developed before Yuki went viral. And it started definitely gaining more popularity as his picture was shared among all different accounts.”
“People have compared Yuki to the dire wolves from Game of Thrones. In fact, that's a super popular comment that I see all the time on my page.”
The giant wolf dog, who now weighs 120llbs, was rescued from a shelter where he was abandoned and left for dead as a puppy by his previous owners because of the wolf-like (rather than dog) tendencies he displayed.
Brittany is one of only a handful of volunteers at the sanctuary able to interact with Yuki.
She said: “I was nervous the first time going in with Yuki.”
“He's kind of unpredictable at times, but he is very selective in terms of who interacts with him and who doesn't.”
The Shy Wolf Sanctuary is an exotic animal sanctuary that rescues abandoned animals that were bred to be pets.
Sanctuary Director Jeremy Albrecht said: “Yuki is our most successful animal in the sense of fame, for sure.”
Thanks to the added interest Yuki’s fame has courted, the sanctuary hopes to expand.
Jeremy said: “As far as our future goes we are trying to get to a larger property and build a state of the art facility. Right now we've been surviving in a backyard essentially on two and a half acres of land for almost 30 years.”
“If I have 20 times the space I have now, then I have 20 times the Yukis that I can rescue and that’s what we are here to do.”
As well as rescuing animals, Shy Wolf also helps children through its Healing Hearts Program.
Jeremy explains: "We have partnered with six organisations specialising in everything from foster children and abuse victims to people in hiding and children that have recently experienced trauma.
“The program gives us an opportunity to bring abused, abandoned, and neglected animals to abused, abandoned and neglected people and the results have been beautiful."
Everyone at the sanctuary, especially Brittany, is proud of Yuki and all the work the Shy Wolf Sanctuary does.
She said: “He's an awesome animal, he's amazing even though, you know, he had a rough start. And you know, someone abandoned him and I'm so glad that Shy Wolf was able to step in and give him a home where he can just have so much affection and so much love given to him.”
Sadly, Yuki was diagnosed with cancer last year but he remains in good spirits.
Brittany said: “Yuki has just been in such high spirits. He’s not showing any signs of pain.”
“I'm really happy that Yuki’s picture went viral, because people can see him and people can just admire him for what he is.”