MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The search continues in Chisago County for at least one wolf still on the loose, after four escaped a sanctuary late last week. Caretakers are pleading with the public to help with the search and keep the animal alive.

Four wolves left the Wild Life Science Center property on Thursday after digging their way out of a fenced in area on the property, which — with 120 wolves — is home to the largest captive population of wolves in North America.

So far caretakers at the center have only been able to recover one alive. Another wolf was put down after being hit by a car and a third is presumably shot and killed. They are hoping they will find the last wolf, Gigantor, alive.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office is assisting with the search.

“If you shot him, we’re not going to press charges,” Megan Beckel, animal care coordinator, told WCCO Monday. “No judgement — we just want the body back. We need to know who we’re still looking for.”

Beckel said the wolves likely escaped in their quest to find a newborn puppy in their pack. The alpha female, Iris, had given birth to just one sole puppy — which is rare — and it was taken to be bottle-fed and transported to the International Wildlife Center in Ely.

READ MORE: 4 Wolves Escape Minnesota Wildlife Center After Pup Taken From Pack

Noticing a pup went missing, the wolves started digging in the den to search for one of their own. A torrential downpour caused the den to collapse, creating a hole opening through fenced pen for them to escape, Beckel said.

The news hit Beckel particularly hard. It’s not an overstatement that her world revolves around the animals — her devotion to them is clear.

“These guys are for lack of a better word—they’re our life. This is not a normal nine-to-five job. During puppy season, the pups we bottle feed, they live at my house,” she said. “To say we are devastated doesn’t even touch it. We are just completely numb. We just so want our guys back.”

Nothing like this has ever happened in three decades of operation, she said, but she and others who work there are pleading with the public to alert the center if they see a wolf roaming so they can bring him back safely.

If you see the animal, take a picture, note its location and call the center at 651-464-3993.

“We’ll be there as fast our cars can drive,” Beckel said.

Caroline Cummings