Border Battle: Real wolverines living in enemy territory - Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Border Battle: Real wolverines flourishing in enemy territory

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We are just a few days away from the big Border Battle.  That's the annual rivalry game between Ohio State and Michigan.

This year we discovered a hard-to-believe fun fact for football fans.

13abc's Christine Long road tripped to Columbus for proof.

We journeyed into the heart of Buckeye Country to find that, yes, a few four-legged wolverines are, indeed, living and flourishing in enemy territory.

Lions, and tigers, and elephants … Oh My!

At the Columbus Zoo, animal lovers can find the usual exotic suspects. 

But wander into the North America exhibit and you'll discover something wildly rare.

"Of course we have to stop and see," says Rich Wehrenberg, a University of Michigan fan. "I just wanted to make sure no one painted them Scarlet and Grey before the game."

"I think they oughta just pick 'em up and send 'em up to Ann Arbor" says Alvin Yoder, an Ohio State fan. "They need them up there more than we need them here."

"You hear people come up, 'Oh wolverines, we've got to see them.' They're actually Ohio State fans!" says Alicia Shelley, the North American Zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo.

Shelley is one of the many Buckeye fans who takes care of three wolverines: Kiwi, Rocky, and Buffy.

They look like bears, but are the largest members of the weasel family.  Wolverines have feet like snowshoes and are not often found in zoos.

"They're actually very, very solitary," says Shelley. "It's typically very difficult for scientists to get much information on them because they're very smart."

Wolverines, found mainly in Canada and Alaska, have a reputation of being powerful despite their size.  They weigh between 25 and 45 pounds.

The fearless gluttons are so strong they can take down a moose.

"People are so surprised to know that they have been known to run a bear or a wolf off of a kill, even though they're substantially smaller," says Shelley.

Wolverines have been here at the Columbus Zoo for more than 20 years. It may be hard to believe, but they're very popular.

Rich Wehrenberg of the Cleveland area is from a proud Michigan family.  He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1973.  His daughter graduated this past spring.

Wehrenberg is satisfied to see Buckeyes in Columbus are taking good care of the wolverines.

"He looks nice and healthy and he's enjoying it," says Wehrenberg.

"They actually get meat and fish and rats," says Shelley. "Sometimes frozen rat-scicles, mice-scicles. A good variety of food."

Alvin Yoder and his wife are Ohio State fans from Boise.  They're not throwing Buckeye candies at them, but still believe wolverines stink.

Christine asks, "Do you like them?" Yoder answers, "If we put a Buckeye hat on them. But, no, they are cool animals. Very, very cool animals."

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