Grizzer, an ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, was euthanized Thursday, Jan. 27.

Contact: Grant Spickelmier, Executive Director
Office: 763-233-7132

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Grizzer, an ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, was euthanized Thursday, Jan. 27.
Grizzer was more than 17 ½ years old and was the Center’s oldest wolf in its 30 years of having an ambassador pack. He and his packmates at the Center have educated over half a million visitors at the Center’s exhibit in Ely and countless more online through regular YouTube videos, wolf logs and webcams.
Many of those webcam visitors watched along as Grizzer would race around the enclosure doing what later became known as the Grizzer 500.
“We’re all so sad today,” said Grant Spickemier, the Center’s executive director. “Grizzer meant so much to so many of us and to so many people around the world. Watching him encourage his retirement packmates to race around the enclosure with him during those Grizzer 500s was inspiring to all of us.”
The decision to euthanize him came after a consultation with the Center’s trusted veterinarian in Ely. His condition began to decline on Jan. 26 when wolf care staff observed him having troubles. He was brought into the wolf care building and the veterinarian was called to begin monitoring him. Blood samples were taken and IV fluids and antibiotics were administered. A portable x-ray machine from the nearby Vermilion Community College veterinary technician program was brought in for chest and abdominal x-rays, but nothing significant was found.
Wolf Curator, Lori Schmidt stated “In between the vet exams, diagnostic testing and treatments, some of Grizzer’s trusted wolf care team members spent the day keeping him comfortable in the wolf care center. The special bond that is formed during the neonate pup socialization stage has the most value on the last days of an animal’s life.”
Despite some hopeful moments where Grizzer ate a pound of beef and took meds early on the morning of January 27, his decline and more obvious indication of distress prompted the decision to euthanize him at approximately 7:40 a.m.
Grizzer joined the Center’s ambassador pack in 2004 with his littermate Maya. He was moved to the retirement pack in 2011 after her tragic death. He had lost confidence in his status and without the dominance of his littermate, he couldn’t compete with the younger packmates.
While he was in retirement, Grizzer saw several wolves share the enclosure with him, including Denali, Luna and Aidan, ​​as well as Boltz in a neighboring retirement enclosure. He was also engaged with the Center’s 2021 pup, Rieka, often interacting with her through the fence that separates the Exhibit Pack from the Retirement Pack.
To learn more about Grizzer’s condition, he was transported to the Ely Veterinary Clinic for a necropsy performed by Dr. Kristine Woerheide. Those results will further educate staff as the Center continues to manage the three remaining ambassador wolves at the Center’s facility in Ely.
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.