In 1991, Montana wolf biologist Pat Tucker and her husband Bruce Weide began raising a wolf pup at the request of a filmmaker, who wanted to use the wild animal in a movie. Once the scene was shot, Tucker and Weide had a choice: put little Koani to sleep, or spend the next 15 years—her projected lifespan—leading a wolf-centered life. They chose the latter, and Rob Whitehair's doc tells the story of those 15 years, much of it captured via the couple's home videos. We see Koani pulling Tucker across a snowy field on cross-country skis; Tucker and Weide digging through their butcher's dumpster for surplus meat; Koani's "wolf babysitter" Indy, a fluffy collie mix who looks diminutive next to his huge and rangy wolf friend; and, in one unnerving scene, Koani baring her teeth when Tucker tries to get her off the couch. But Tucker and Weide didn't keep Koani to be a pet—at the time, Yellowstone National Park was preparing to reintroduce wolf packs, and opposition ran high—particularly among ranchers with livestock at risk. Groups like the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition equate wolves with Satan and protest with signs reading "Wolf Is the Saddam Hussein of the Animal World." Tucker and Weide then use Koani as an "ambassador animal," bringing her to schools (!) and using her to teach communities about the much-maligned creatures. Weide asks for a middle ground between "the wolf that you fear and the wolf that lies down with the lamb." Neither depiction, it turns out, is accurate.
You tell Koani to get off the couch.
Opens Fri., June 22 at Varsity. Not rated. 76 minutes.