Aidan, an ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center, and former pack leader passed away on 8/14/19.

Possible rupture of mast cell tumors is likely the main cause.

Chad Richardson, communications director
International Wolf Center
Office: 763-560-7374, ext. 225

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Aidan, an 11-year-old ambassador wolf at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, died on Wednesday August 14th. He was the longtime pack leader at the Center, earning the role in 2011.

Aidan had been taken to the Ely Veterinary Clinic the day before for a medical exam and surgical removal of a mast cell tumor on his neck. The removal of this single mass was a success, but further diagnostic tests were done to understand the depth of his condition. He was recovering from the surgery, but he died the following morning.  Wolf Curator, Lori Schmidt noted, “His last morning was spent with two core wolf care staff and very calm social interactions. His level of trust and social bonding with the staff was there until the end.”

This was not Aidan’s first bout with these tumors. He had two surgeries in 2017 and one in February of 2019 to remove tumors. Immune suppressants were used to slow the growth of these mast cells, but in the end weren’t enough to keep the tumors from growing.

Aidan joined the Center’s pack in 2008 with his littermate Denali, both Rocky Mountain subspecies of wolves.  Aidan was moved into the retirement enclosure in the summer of 2018.

He and his packmates 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.

In an effort to learn more about Aidan’s condition, he was transported to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for a necropsy. Those results will further educate staff as the Center continues to manage the remaining wolves at the Center’s facility in Ely.

“This news hits us all especially hard,” said Chad Richardson, the Center’s administrator. “Aidan’s prior six years as the pack leader taught us staff members and the public so much about pack leaders and their important role. We were able to watch him take on the leadership position and then looked on in awe and sadness when his fellow pack members began testing him in 2017 and 2018. Moving him to retirement was the right decision, but none of us were ready to see him pass away within a year of that move.

“Our Wolf Care staff did everything they could to make his time in retirement as comfortable as possible. Our staff tried every possible treatment that our veterinarian suggested. Sadly, nothing worked.

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