For Immediate Release-August 16, 2016
Axel and Grayson explore and discover their place in the pack.
Ely, Minn. – On Sunday, August 7, the International Wolf Center successfully introduced its two newest ambassador wolves, arctic wolf pups Axel and Grayson, to the Exhibit Pack. The multi-phase introduction process followed months of socialization to ensure that the pups were comfortable with the sights and sounds of the exhibit and the visiting public. Since their arrival on May 25, the pups have had round-the-clock attention by staff and more than 85 volunteers who assisted with their care and gathered behavioral data.
“Even though we have successfully introduced non-related pups to adult wolves in the past, every introduction is different since each pup shows a distinct personality and each existing pack has unique behavioral dynamics,” said Wolf Curator, Lori Schmidt. “Our staff, volunteers and behavioral observers learn to identify these wolf behaviors, particularly anxiety, that can lead to aggression.”
To make a smooth introduction, the Center’s wolf care staff brought the adult wolves into the pack holding area, the outdoor space adjacent to the newly constructed Wolf Care Center, to meet the pups. The pups had been using this space for months and were most likely to be relaxed as they met the adults there.
While the pups’ face-to-face meetings with Aidan, Denali and Boltz went smoothly, Luna’s response was defensive, and she was quickly moved into a separate area.
“Aidan engaged the pups with a high pitched whine, then did what we expect from a pack leader, he began to bond with his new pack mates,” Schmidt said.
During the pups’ first five days in the exhibit enclosure, a team of behavioral observers watched and recorded pack behavior and interaction to help manage a successful transition for the pups and provide the Center with important data in captive wolf management.
“Preliminary observations show that the pups are well accepted by the males in the Exhibit Pack,” Schmidt said. “Axel displayed bold behavior, facing off with Denali over a Cornish game hen and taking possession of it from this 148-pound adult pack member. Grayson has been more timid and learned to seek refuge on one of the Center’s “rock islands” in the pond when intimidated.
“We continue to see the pups’ personalities develop and alliances form with their adult pack mates,” said Schmidt. “The weeks ahead will be a very interesting time for visitors to observe and photograph interactions between adult wolves and pups.”
Currently, Luna is in an adjacent enclosure with a direct view of the Exhibit Pack and seems calm, with no signs of separation anxiety, according to Schmidt. The staff will continue to monitor Luna to see if she can return to the pack in the coming months, dependent on the easing of her defensive behavior and the pups gaining enough weight and confidence to interact with her.
To learn more about the Center’s Exhibit Pack or monitor the pups’ progress, visit wolf.org to view webcams, wolf logs and videos.
THE INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the premier source for wolf information and education. The mission of the Center is to advance the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.
The Center educates through its website wolf.org, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, educational outreach programs, International Wolf magazine, and a beautiful interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.