13-year-old gray wolf euthanized Saturday night after his condition deteriorated quickly

Contact: Chad Richardson, Communications Director
Office: 763-233-7132

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Denali, an ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, was euthanized at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4.

The 13-year-old gray wolf was born in 2008 at the Wildlife Science Center in Minnesota. He came to the International Wolf Center with his littermate, Aidan.

Early reports on Saturday noted that Denali was very interactive and seemingly had no issues, but by Saturday evening that had changed. At about 7 p.m, a wolf care staff member noticed Denali’s gums were pale, his ears were cold and that he seemed dehydrated. Two additional wolf care staff members were quickly called in, including the Center’s longtime wolf curator, Lori Schmidt. As Denali’s condition deteriorated, the Center’s veterinarian, Dr. Kristine Woerheide, was also called in.

His condition continued to deteriorate and he was euthanized shortly thereafter. A necropsy was performed at the Ely Veterinary Clinic where Dr. Woerheide found a tumor on Denali’s liver that had ruptured. There were also calcifications throughout his lung lobes and a mass on his right atrium.

Tissue samples were collected and are being sent to a pathologist for further analysis.

“The benefit of working with socialized wolves is the trust that is developed between wolf care team members and the animals in our care,” Schmidt said. “This trust takes hours and hours to build during the critical bonding period as pups, but the benefits are never more important than those final moments when the hard decisions need to be made to end an animal’s suffering.  Denali’s last minutes were spent surrounded by the wolf care team, all of whom are dedicated to their task of caring for our ambassadors.

“He will be fondly remembered for his foreleg stabs, seeking attention from fellow packmates and staff doing wolf checks, as well as his bounding play-bows, when he was inviting anyone to chase him.”

With Denali’s passing, Grizzer, Denali’s 17-year-old packmate, again becomes the lone member of the Retired Pack, a position he has experienced in the past. In an effort to provide social contact to Grizzer, staff are working on providing a safe environment for face-to-face greetings with the wolves in the Center’s Exhibit Pack, including the 2021 pup, Rieka. Details will be shared on the Center’s wolf logs, webcams and upcoming webinars about the ongoing pack dynamics.

After 12 years in the Exhibit Pack, Denali joined the Center’s retirement pack in October 2020. In retirement, he joined Grizzer, a former packmate, and he adapted well to a calmer and more restful environment.

He and his packmates at the Center have educated tens of thousands of visitors at the Center’s exhibit in Ely, as well as thousands of people throughout the world through regular YouTube videos, wolf logs and webcams.

When Denali was born at the Wildlife Science Center, it was located in Forest Lake, Minnesota. The WSC has since relocated to Stacy and they were the source facility for Rieka, also a Northwestern/Rocky Mountain subspecies of gray wolf.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

From the Idaho Statesman:

Several conservation groups announced Monday that they intend to sue Idaho over the state’s controversial wolf law passed earlier this year, which the groups say could put other endangered species at risk.

A news release from the Center for Biological Diversity said it would join nine other groups in suing Idaho if it does not repeal a law passed in May that expands wolf hunting and trapping opportunities. The other organizations listed in the notice of intent are Footloose Montana, Friends of the Clearwater, International Wildlife Coexistence Network, Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment, Sierra Club, Trap Free Montana Public Lands, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and Wolves of the Rockies.

Click here for the full story.

Contact information:
Chad Richardson, Communications Director, International Wolf Center
Email: chad@wolf.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The Center planned to add pups in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Center to delay those plans for one year. The pups are expected to arrive in early to mid-May and they will be visible to the public starting on approximately Friday, June 4.

The Center believes in wolf education, and one method for accomplishing the Center’s mission of advancing survival of wolf populations in the wild is through the use of ambassador wolves.

“There are countless benefits when visitors experience the Center’s socialized wolves that offer a glimpse into the individual traits of wolves, showing the social nature of the species that makes it successful as a top-level predator,” said Lori Schmidt, the Center’s wolf curator. “So often people portray wolves for their predatory behavior and don’t appreciate the intricate pack life and social organization that keeps them together as a social unit. As curator, it is my job to maintain a socially cohesive unit of wolves in the exhibit, and we recognize that to do this, new life must be added to the exhibit.”

The pandemic does mean there will be some changes at the Center this summer. The 2021 pups will not be part of the Center’s hourly indoor programs.

“Because of Covid-19 restrictions, we will be offering outdoor viewing opportunities that will require pre-registration to participate in a 15-minute pup viewing opportunity,” said Interpretive Center Director Krista Harrington. “We will do our best to accommodate everyone, but safety of our guests, our staff and the wolves is paramount and opportunities may be weather dependent.”

Another way to see the 2021 wolf pups is with a one-hour behind the scenes tour. These tours are only available for members of the International Wolf Center. Information about membership is available at wolf.org.

Advance tickets are required for everyone

Everyone who visits the Center in 2021 must purchase advance tickets. To get your tickets, click the Book Now button on the lower right-hand side of the page at wolf.org. For members of the Center, entrance tickets are free. Members are also required to book tickets in advance so that we can ensure everyone’s safety.

Your pup viewing opportunity must be booked for the same day as your general admission.

What will their names be?

The International Wolf Center will conduct a pup naming contest beginning in early June and announce the names at a special virtual fundraising event on June 15.

Where are the pups coming from?

The International Wolf Center is a non-breeding exhibit, so when pups are added, we coordinate with another professional animal organization. The source is dependent upon reproductive plans within their facility and availability. We always acquire captive-born pups. This year we are coordinating again with the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minnesota. They collaborated with the International Wolf Center first in 2008 to provide pups Aidan and Denali and had pups ready for us in 2020, but the International Wolf Center had to cancel the transfer due to Covid-19.

In 2021, we are planning to integrate the Northwestern subspecies into our Exhibit Pack.

The Wildlife Science Center has more than 100 wolves and is an active participant in both the Mexican gray wolf and red wolf Species Survival Plan program.

The mission of WSC is to serve as an educational resource for all ages by: providing exposure to wild animals and the body of knowledge generated for their conservation; to advance understanding of wild animal biology through long-term, humane scientific studies on captive populations, thus contributing to technical training for wildlife agencies, educational institutions and conservation agencies.


The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Prognosis isn’t yet clear for Boltz, an 8-year-old gray wolf

Chad Richardson, Communications Director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-233-7132

Additional photos available on request

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Once the doors closed at the Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital MRI unit on Sept. 15, a special patient was wheeled into place for a unique MRI. This patient was a wolf.

For the first time in the history of the International Wolf Center and the first time at the hospital, an ambassador wolf from the Center was given an MRI. The procedure was done to help identify some lingering health issues that are negatively impacting Boltz, an 8-year-old gray wolf.

“We’re so thankful that the Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital worked with us on this really unusual request,” said the Center’s wolf curator, Lori Schmidt. “It is not uncommon for us to have x-rays taken at the Ely Veterinary Clinic, but an MRI is not available there. This contribution to helping diagnose Boltz was critical.”

The MRI came about thanks to an initial phone call from Dr. Woerheide from the Ely Veterinary Clinic, followed by hours of logistical details on how to keep a wolf safely sedated for the duration of the procedure.

“She made the call to the hospital and was able to coax them into seeing what a benefit this could be for all the parties involved,” said Krista Harrington, the Interpretive Center Manager. “The closest animal MRI is in the Twin Cities, so we could not have done it without her and the Ely hospital.”

The hospital said it is proud of its contribution.

“While certainly an unusual request for a different kind of patient, we were excited, challenged and blessed by the opportunity to help with Boltz’ diagnosis and eventual care plan,” said EBCH’s Diagnostic Imaging Team Leader, Victor Aime. “I had two planning meetings with Dr. Woerheide to consider the challenges of an MRI on a sedated wolf. The meetings paid off with a flawless experience. It couldn’t have gone better! Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital is proud to have been a participant in this collaborative effort with the International Wolf Center and Ely Veterinary Clinic for the benefit of Boltz.”

Dr. Woerheide figured she had nothing to lose in asking the hospital.

“It didn’t hurt to ask,” Woerheide said. “We thought they were probably going to say, ‘No, we don’t want a wolf in our very expensive machine,’ but Victor was open to helping out. I met with him in person and we talked it all through. We just made a plan and made it happen.”

Staff at the International Wolf Center were able to get Boltz sedated during the day and then transported him to the hospital in a crate. Woerheide was in the back of the truck monitoring Boltz on the short drive to the hospital. When they all arrived, he was loaded onto a lift and taken into the MRI trailer.

Everything inside took about 90 minutes. During the MRI, hospital staff carefully studied what was showing up on their monitors. It’s safe to say that these results looked much different than what they normally see.

“The staff was comparing the anatomy of wolves to people and asking a lot of questions,” Harrington said. “They were asking things like ‘How many lumbar vertebrae do wolves have? What were the presenting symptoms?’

“They explained a lot of what we were seeing on the scans as they happened — where the spinal cord was, the various parts of the brain, the sagittal crest, the jaw and other skull and spine features.”

Once hospital staff were finished with the MRI, the images were burned onto a disc. Those images were emailed to the University of Minnesota Neurology Department, which conferred with Dr. Woerheide on the results. Nothing conclusive has been found yet, so additional tests are being done to get a diagnosis for Boltz.

“Wolf care staff are closely monitoring Boltz with the aid of onsite surveillance equipment and daily review of video to assess his response to treatment, Schmidt said. “We are hopeful we’ll have a conclusive diagnosis and prognosis soon.”

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

North American Bear Center, Dorothy Molter Museum and International Wolf Center are back open, albeit with some changes



Three of Ely’s biggest tourist attractions are open to the public after temporarily closing because of the pandemic. The Dorothy Molter Museum, the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center have all opened their doors.

Each organization has needed to make adjustments to its daily schedule, of course. Each facility has instituted new cleaning protocols, some also require masks and advance ticket purchases.

After all the changes, though, the experience within each facility is just as memorable as always.

Scott Edgett, the Senior Director of Operations at the bear center, said the response from the public has been incredibly positive so far.

“There have been a lot of changes behind the scenes, but we’re hearing from our visitors that the experience here isn’t diminished at all,” he said. “I’m so proud of the staff here that’s managed to adapt to this new normal.”

At the International Wolf Center and the Dorothy Molter Museum, a new online ticketing system will help ensure there aren’t too many visitors at any one time. The system also makes it possible for visitors to be guaranteed entry after they purchase those advance tickets.

“Moving to the online ticketing system is going to be the biggest adjustment for our visitors,” said Dorothy Molter Museum Executive Director Jess Edberg. “Since we have to limit our capacity to comply with the governor’s orders, this system should help visitors rest easy knowing that they will be able to get in as long as they purchase those advance tickets.”

While each organization was closed, staff members worked hard to get ready for reopening. Sinks were changed to touchless models, as were soap dispensers and hand dryers/towel dispensers. Hand sanitizing stations were tracked down and purchased, which wasn’t easy considering many other organizations were looking for the very same thing. With all of those new safety features in place, doors are reopening.

“We’re so relieved that we’ve been able to come up with solutions that keep our visitors and our staff as safe as possible,” said International Wolf Center Interpretive Center Manager Krista Harrington. “I know that everyone at the Dorothy Molter Museum and the bear center have been hard at work on the same thing.”

All three facilities plan frequent cleaning and sanitizing throughout each day, and each implemented its own Covid-19 preparedness operations plan based on state requirements.

Here’s more information on how each facility plans to operate for the time being:

Dorothy Molter Museum

Advance tickets, available online or by phone, are required for admission to the Dorothy Molter Museum, which celebrates the life of Dorothy Molter. Molter operated the Isle of Pines Resort from 1948 until 1986 and made tens of thousands of bottles of root beer for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness paddlers.

She lived at the resort year-round. The museum honors her legacy with several of the cabins from her property on site, as well as countless photographs and many of her belongings.

One-hour time slots are available from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., seven days a week. There is a limit of 10 visitors on-site at any one time.

Masks are required. Disposable masks are available in the gift shop for $1.

Hand sanitizer is available on site.

Changes may be made to this schedule, so visitors should watch the museum’s website for the latest information.

More information about the Dorothy Molter Museum can be found at rootbeerlady.com or by calling (218) 365-4451.

International Wolf Center

Advance tickets are required for admission to the International Wolf Center, too. They are for sale online at wolf.org or by phone.

The Center features a live pack of ambassador wolves, exhibits and lecture-style programs in an auditorium setting.

The Center is open for members only from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. seven days a week. From 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. is general admission. The Center closes between 3:30 and 4 p.m. for a cleaning, then limited group admission is available from 4 to 5 p.m.

Masks are required. Disposable masks are available in the gift shop for $1 and hand sanitizer stations are available.

Changes may be made to this schedule in the coming weeks and months, so visitors should watch the Center’s website for the latest information.

More information about the International Wolf Center can be found at wolf.org or by calling 218-365-4695.

North American Bear Center

The North American Bear Center is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The bear center will operate at 25 percent of its visitor capacity, or 65 people.

Staff will wear masks and cleaning and sanitizing public spaces throughout the day. Hand sanitizer is available. Visitors are encouraged to practice proper social distancing, too.

Changes may be made to this schedule in the coming weeks and months, so visitors should watch the center’s website for the latest information.

More information on the North American Bear Center can be found at bear.org or 218-365-7879.



The Center will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, June 22.


By Chad Richardson
Communications Director
International Wolf Center



For the first time since March, the International Wolf Center is opening its doors to the public. The Center will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday, June 22.

Several changes are planned at the Center to ensure everyone’s safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The biggest change is that tickets must be purchased in advance to ensure there’s enough space within the facility at any given time. Tickets can be purchased online at wolf.org.

Those without internet access can also purchase tickets by calling the Center at 218-365-4695.

There is a small convenience fee that is added to the ticket price whether purchasing online or over the phone.

Masks are required for all visitors. For those who don’t own a mask, they will be available for a suggested donation of $1 at the door.

“We can’t wait to open our doors back up and start teaching about wolves again,” said Krista Harrington, the Interpretive Center Manager. “Since we closed in March, we’ve all been working incredibly hard to prepare to reopen. Finally, that day is almost here.”

The daily schedule looks like this:

  • From 8 a.m. until 10 a.m., seven days a week, the Center opens to members only. This exclusive experience will allow for members to watch daily wolf care activities from the viewing area windows as staff members perform medical checks and feed the wolves supplemental nutrition. International Wolf Center members receive free admission, but they do still need to pre-register online to ensure the Center isn’t over capacity. Memberships can be purchased online at wolf.org for those looking to gain these benefits.
  • From 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., the Center is open to the public. Advance tickets are required for admission. Members can receive free admission but must pre-register. Several educational programs are offered in the auditorium every day. Lecture-based programs take place at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Also planned are two wolf enrichment programs, which are a great time to observe the Center’s wolves. These enrichment programs are planned for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
  • From 3:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., the Center will be closed for a thorough cleaning.
  • From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Center will reopen for groups from vulnerable populations. Attendance will be capped at 10 people during this time period.  Advance tickets are required and can be booked at wolf.org. During this session, a wolf enrichment program is planned at 4:15 p.m.

This schedule is subject to change. To stay up to date on all changes, please visit www.wolf.org.

A few special programs are also available including a members-only behind-the-scenes tour available on Friday and Sunday mornings. Information on how to register for this program and others can also be found at wolf.org.

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands and the human role in their future.

Additional webcams featuring the Center’s pack of wolves are now online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Two new live webcams featuring the pack of ambassador wolves at the International Wolf Center are now featured on explore.org.

Explore.org is the world’s leading philanthropic live nature cam network and documentary film channel. Their website features hundreds of live streaming cameras focused on nature and animals across the world. The International Wolf Center maintains a pack of ambassador wolves at its interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.

“Our followers passionately observe our pack through webcams on our website, so we know there’s a great interest in this twenty-four hour access,” said the Center’s Executive Director, Grant Spickelmier. “By adding two cameras to the explore.org network, we expect we’ll be able to educate even more people about the natural behaviors of wolves.”

“[The new wolf camera] is one of a kind,” said Charles Annenberg Weingarten, founder of explore.org. “It can’t be more sacred and I’m so excited to be a part of the wolf pack. Welcome wolves to the explore.org family!”

Explore.org’s cameras are operated by a network of volunteers, so viewers will be able to consistently observe wolves as operators zoom in and/or move the cameras around the wolf enclosure. In addition, representatives from the Center will be online at set times every week to answer questions from viewers on explore.org‘s commenting boards.

“It’s incredibly hard to observe wild wolves,” Spickelmier said. “Cameras like these make it possible for anyone, anywhere, to watch our Ambassador pack and learn about wolf behavior. This effort fits in very well with our education-based mission.”

A microphone is also part of the experience, making it possible for viewers to hear the wolves howl. Mornings and evenings are typically when the wolves are most active.

“We’re appreciative of the work that the explore.org team has done to make this partnership happen,” Spickelmier said. “Without their generosity and their expertise, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

To see the cameras, visit https://explore.org/livecams/international-wolf-center/wolf-cam-2

The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wild lands and the human role in their future. For more information about the International Wolf Center, visit wolf.org.

Contact for livestream footage/photo requests:
Emily Berlin, Public Relations for explore.org