Aidan and Denali were born on April 27, 2008 and joined the Exhibit Pack on August 4th, 2008. The 2008 pup introduction was very unique for the Center as it was the first time that our Exhibit pack contained three subspecies of the gray wolf and three age groups-the arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos) born in 2000, Great Plains wolves (Canis lupus nubilus) born in 2004 and Rocky Mountain wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis) born in 2008.
Denali was fairly immune to dominance rank order. He was more prone to social engagement and avoided interactions that related to dominance. He was encouraged to be more dominant by the 2nd ranking male, Grizzer, who allowed Denali to readily take food or possessions without any sign of threat display. By the time Denali turned two years of age, he was always very social, but also very testing. Grizzer attempted to assert some rank over Denali, but starting at 2 years of age wasn’t very effective.
In July 2010, the pack leader, Shadow an arctic wolf born in 2000, was retired which essentially left no leadership in the pack. In 2011, we had a tragic injury to Maya, the dominant female and littermate to Grizzer that resulted in her euthanasia and prompted the decision to retire Grizzer. Without Grizzer’s limits, Denali was looking for an opportunity to assert his rank and did so to both the 2012 and 2016 pup litters. He was especially focused on Grayson, an arctic pup introduced to the Exhibit in August 2016.
Visitors to the Center or to the webcam can witness Denali’s tendency to gain full possession of the weekly deer carcass, making Grayson and often Boltz wait their turn. Dynamics are always changing in a wolf pack and we know that Denali will always look for opportunities to possess his food and test his limits.
For more information on our ambassador wolves, watch extended wolf videos on the International Wolf Center’s YouTube Channel or enjoy a close-up of wolf behavior on our Wolf Watch Cams.