FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rob Schultz, executive director
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 222
Minneapolis, MN (July 3, 2014) – Shadow, a male resident arctic wolf at the International Wolf Center, was euthanized on Wednesday, July 2 after a significant physical decline in his overall condition. The 14-year-old wolf joined the Center’s resident pack in 2000 with his brother, Malik, and the two had been housed in the Center’s Retired Enclosure for about four years. Shadow had been living alone since Malik was euthanized on March 21, 2014. A necropsy conducted by the University of Minnesota diagnostics lab revealed that the cause of Malik’s rapid decline was a ruptured mass on his kidney that resulted in internal bleeding, and that he would have likely succumbed to blood loss if he had not been euthanized.
Shadow was the dominant pack leader in the Exhibit Pack from the fall of 2002 until his retirement in July 2010. As the pack leader, he was engaged in far more physical dominance than his littermate Malik, and the energy needed to lead a pack seemed to take its toll as he aged.
Shadow and his fellow ambassador wolves have educated thousands of visitors to both the Center’s exhibit in Ely and to those people connecting through the Center’s weekly YouTube videos, wolf logs and webcams. Shadow and Malik were arctic wolves, known for their distinctive white pelage.
“Shadow had a strong personality and led the pack with definitive behaviors, both social and dominant,” said Center Wolf Curator Lori Schmidt. “He had many alliances among his fellow Ambassador Wolves and the wolf care staff that provided daily care.”
On Wednesday, July 2, staff monitoring Shadow on the Center’s surveillance cameras noticed his increased panting in response to the warmer part of the day. By afternoon, Shadow had difficulty standing and began displaying other physical abnormalities that may be indicative of neurological problems. As staff observed and documented his condition in attempts to diagnose the issue, they witnessed a rapid and progressive decline in less than two hours. Upon consultation with the wolves’ vets at the Ely Veterinarian Clinic and the Center’s Vet Care team, the decision was made to implement the Center’s euthanasia plan.
“Malik’s euthanasia was only a few months ago, and this is not our first experience of seeing the decline of retired wolves in such close proximity to each other,” said Schmidt. “In 2008, after 1993 littermate MacKenzie died of a pulmonary embolism, remaining littermate Lakota showed a decline less than six months later. Wolves are social pack animals so, especially for aging social pack animals, the loss of one can affect the activity and attitude of the remaining pack member. “
“Wolves in the wild rarely live to the age achieved by the Center’s captive-born ambassador wolves, which means that those who manage captive wolves have little information on older wolves’ health issues,” Schmidt said. In an effort to learn more about Shadow’s decline, the Center’s wolf care staff transported Shadow to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for a detailed necropsy. Staff expects the results will provide specific answers to Shadow’s decline and will provide valuable data as the organization continues to manage the remaining five ambassador wolves at the Center’s flagship facility in Ely.
Shadow’s death was announced on Facebook on Thursday July 3, and hundreds of the Center’s supporters replied with condolences and shared memories of the historic pack leader.
Shadow 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 find enough to eat. Few live to be 10, and extremely few into their early teens.
“For all of our employees and volunteers who have the honor of working with these incredible animals, its impossible not to feel a deep connection and love for them,” said Center Executive Director Rob Schultz. “Shadow was a decisive leader of the Ambassador pack, and the days ahead will be difficult for our staff, volunteers and supporters around the world who were inspired by him over the years.”
“The Center would especially like to thank Ely veterinarians Peter Hughes and Chip Hanson for their immediate help at a critical time” Schmidt said.
“We are incredibly grateful for the work that Curator Lori Schmidt and the wolf care team do in serving the Ambassadors and sharing what we learn from them with the public,” said Schultz.
The Center’s remaining resident wolves include Two-year-old Great Plains wolves, Luna and Boltz; six-year-old Rocky Mountain wolves Aidan and Denali, and the sole retiree, 10-year old Grizzer who is a Great Plains wolf. Visitors to the web can learn more about the Center’s wolves at www.wolf.org/visit/meet-our-wolves/wolf-logs or see them on web cams at www.wolf.org/?s=web+cam.
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER- 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, www.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, Minnesota, 55731. (Phone: 218-365-4695), and the Center’s Administrative and Outreach offices are at 3410 Winnetka Ave North, Minneapolis, MN 55427.