Many guests on Endangered Wolf Center tours are fascinated by a sight that has nothing to do with the animals that live here: The tour begins inside a World War II-era bunker.
Even before that, guests see other bunkers on their drive from the front gate to the classroom.
During World War II, the federal government used eminent domain to acquire the approximately 2,000 acres that now houses Washington University’s Tyson Research Center. The government constructed 55 30-yard-deep bunkers and 10 10-yard-deep bunkers camouflaged into hillsides. The bunkers were used to store munitions and other military supplies.
After World War II, St. Louis County opened a park on the site, but the government reacquired the property during the Korean War and used the bunkers to store grain. Washington University bought the land in 1963 for use as the Tyson Research Center, where ecological and biological research is conducted.
The Endangered Wolf Center, founded in 1971 as the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, leases about 65 acres from Washington University. The Center uses two of the large bunkers, No. 7 and No. 44, on its part of the property for storage. Two of the small bunkers near the animal enclosures are used to store food and hay.
Another of the big bunkers, known as Bunker No. 6 or “The Igloo” because of its rounded walls, houses the Center’s classroom and gift shop. It is there that guests learn the historical significance of the building that arches over their heads.