When Busch assumed the helm of the Endangered Wolf Center in 2012, she was determined to instill a strong educational component into its core mission.
“The Center’s been here for more than 45 years, and it’s still one of the best-kept secrets in St. Louis,” she says. “Most people have no idea red wolves still exist in the US, let alone that they’re one of the most critically endangered mammals that are indigenous to this country. We really needed to open the Center doors wide to make sure people knew we were here and felt welcome to come in and learn more about our animals.”
The Center was founded in 1971 by beloved wildlife expert Marlin Perkins and his wife, Carol, a few years after Marlin began hosting his iconic television series, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Their work began by bringing the last seven known Mexican wolves to the Center for breeding and, eventually, reintroduction into their natural habitat. “They built all these enclosures specifically for breeding and then introduction back into the wild,” Busch says. “At the time it was a very new idea in conservation.”
Busch’s work at the Endangered Wolf Center is illustrative of her strong belief in the power of local conservation leaders to get the job done. “Most people feel very protective of where they live and what makes it special,” she says. “I’m the same way, and a big part of what draws me to WWF is their emphasis on identifying and helping communities implement local solutions to conservation challenges.”
She also likes to point out that, throughout history, wolves have not fared well in children’s literature. From Little Red Riding Hood to The Three Little Pigs to Frozen, wolves have been depicted as villainous creatures to be feared and avoided. And so Busch is now on a mission to challenge and ultimately change this perception. “Predators don’t need to be feared—they have an important role to play in nature,” she says. “You should always be knowledgeable about why they should exist and how they keep our ecosystem healthy.”
Everything seems to have come full circle for Ginny Busch—she didn’t become a veterinarian, but has found a way to take care of animals after all.