Malik, an Ambassador Wolf that Educated Thousands, Euthanized After Sudden Illness that led to Rapid Decline
March 25, 2014
Tom Myrick, communications director
International Wolf Center
3410 Winnetka Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55427
Office: 763-560-7374 ext. 225
Minneapolis (March 25, 2014)-Malik, a male resident arctic wolf at the International Wolf Center, was euthanized on Saturday, March 22, after a rapid decline in health over several days. The nearly 14-year-old wolf joined the Center’s Exhibit Pack in 2000 with his brother, Shadow, and the two entered retirement from the Exhibit Pack about four years ago.
Malik and his fellow pack members have educated thousands of visitors to both the Center’s exhibit in Ely, Minnesota, and to those people connecting through the Center’s weekly YouTube videos, wolf logs and Webcams. Malik and Shadow are arctic wolves, known for their distinctive white coats.
“Last week, Malik began having difficulty walking, and with the help of a 24-hour motion-sensor surveillance system, staff was able to document an extremely quick decline in his physical condition,” said Lori Schmidt, wolf curator for the Center. “By Saturday morning he had difficulty maintaining mobility and was suffering from hypothermia. Upon consult with the wolves’ vets at the Ely Veterinary Clinic, the decision was made to implement the Center’s euthanasia plan.”
Wolves in the wild rarely live to the age achieved by the Center’s captive-born ambassador wolves. “As a result, those who manage captive wolves have little information on older wolves’ health issues,” Schmidt said. In an effort to learn more about Malik’s decline, the Center’s Wolf Care staff transported Malik to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory for a detailed necropsy. Staff expects the results will provide specific answers to Malik’s decline and will aid in providing best care for Malik’s littermate, Shadow.
Malik’s death was announced on Facebook on Saturday, March 22, and hundreds of the Center’s supporters have replied with condolences and shared memories of the handsome arctic wolf.
Malik led a healthy life to an age rarely matched by wolves in the wild. About half of pups in the wild die in the first year, and most others live for two to four years if they are not fatally injured and can find enough to eat. Few live to be 10, and it’s rare for wolves to live into their early teens.
“It is never easy to lose one of our ambassador wolves,” said Center Executive Director Rob Schultz. “It’s important that we take this opportunity to celebrate the long, 14-year life that Malik had, as well as the incredible impact that he and all of our ambassadors have in changing peoples attitudes toward wolves and improving our understanding of them.”
The Center would especially like to thank Ely veterinarians Peter Hughes and Chip Hanson for their immediate help at a critical time, Schmidt said.
Schultz also praised Schmidt and members of the Wolf Care team for “the truly outstanding work they did over the past few days to care for Malik. We are very fortunate to have such a talented and committed group of professionals working with our ambassador wolves.” Shadow has been behaving normally, and the staff will continue monitoring him closely for several days.
The Center’s remaining resident wolves include two yearling Great Plains wolves, Luna and Boltz; two nearly six-year-old Rocky Mountain wolves, Aidan and Denali; the nearly 10-year-old Grizzer who is a Great Plains wolf in retirement; and the 14-year-old retired arctic wolf, Shadow. Visitors to the Web can learn more about the Center’s wolves at or see them on Webcams.
Learn about the International Wolf Center at wolf.org. The Center, founded in 1985, is known worldwide as the nation’s premier source for wolf 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 Web site, wolf.org, its ambassador wolves, museum exhibits, on-site adventure and outreach programs and International Wolf magazine. The educational facility is located at 1396 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731. (Phone: 218-365-4695), and the Center’s Administrative and Outreach offices are at 3410 Winnetka Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55427. (Phone: 763-560-7374)