Explore San Diego: Julian’s Wolf Sanctuary

JULIAN, Calif. – They look like dogs, sometimes even act like them. But make no mistake, these are wolves -- wild animals -- and they’re highly misunderstood.

“I think the biggest misconception is that they’re going to attack us. Wolves are actually afraid of us," said Heidi Pankratz, animal care manager at Julian’s California Wolf Sanctuary.

Nearly two dozen wolves live at the sanctuary. The first time you notice is their size – huge paws and teeth.

Pankratz says some of the most common things she hears is, “oh my gosh, a wolf! Look how big it is!”

They’re also stealthy, sneaking up behind us several times -- not in a menacing way, but cautiously curious.

FOX 5 hid a GoPro in some bushes and it didn’t take long for Wintu, the most curious of the pack, to figure it out and scamper away.

“They don’t want much to do with us," Pankratz said.

But people sure do love them. The sanctuary is often booked for public tours.

“Kids are great to have here...a lot of them have never seen a wolf before and they get really excited," Pankratz said.

FOX 5 also learned wolves are obsessed with digging big dens for their young.

The sanctuary is renowned for its breeding program and hopes visitors leave with new respect for the majestic wolves.