As we reported last week, wolf care staff have been diligent in monitoring Boltz as he chose to isolate himself in the den. We had been hand delivering food to him, watching for his use of the heated water source close to the den and added another layer of hay in the den.  In some sense, this densite is prime real estate in the Exhibit, but not if you have anxiety that keeps you isolated from the pack.   We are happy to report that on Saturday January 18th’s “What’s for Dinner?” program, staff arrived to find all 4 wolves at the gate.  Our management tactics of working on Axel’s dominance over the last week was enough to give Boltz time to build his confidence.  This is not the first time we had confidence issues with Boltz. If you follow our wolf logs, you may recall we have some issues with flying insects that can result in the same response from Boltz during the summer months.   Why is Boltz so sensitive? In 2012 when we adopted Boltz, he was almost 30 days of age before we met him.  While he was socialized to humans at his source facility, he didn’t have the broad socialization process to life at a high traffic public facility, so stress influences him differently than our other wolves.  Due to the neophobic nature of wolves (fearful of new things), the Center’s management policy prefers a pup adoption during the neonate stage of pup development between 10 -14 days of age.  The wolf care team is a group of dedicated, well-trained individuals that will work on the 2020 pup’s exposure to new stimuli with a goal of positive conditioning.  Our priority is to develop social alliances between the pups and the adults as well as the humans that will care for them throughout their lives.  The playful antics of pups can create a positive distraction during stressful times.  We definitely look forwards to the influence of Boltz’s future packmates.

 

Ely has had some fresh snowfall this week, which Grizzer enjoys. He has been seen excitedly rolling over in the snow, near the East Side den. Grizzer’s undercoat is quite thick and dense, which provides him with ample protection from the cold.  Despite the fact that we have five heated water sources throughout the two enclosures, You may see the wolves on the webcam eating snow.  The warm, wet snow has moisture and can meet their needs.  Grizzer also likes to do a face-wipe in the snow after his morning breakfast, a method of cleaning his face.

Whenever there is significant snowfall, staff shovel out pathways for Grizzer throughout all the retirement enclosures. The paths help Grizzer navigate his surroundings easier. Staff also make sure there is extra hay placed on the back sides of the dens. This hay provides extra traction for Grizzer as he climbs up onto the dens, keeping him active to maintain joint health.

Written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

In the Exhibit Pack, it appears that Boltz has lost some confidence. He has been spending a good deal of time in the den and comes out only when he is sure that Axel and Grayson are distracted.  Axel and Grayson have been testing their limits with the older packmates, Boltz and Denali. This is a seasonal issue  that has played out many times in the Center’s 30-year history of ambassador wolves.  By opening the Pack Holding Area and letting Axel and Grayson visit Grizzer, it diffuses some of the tension, keeps Grizzer stimulated and gives Boltz some time to move about the enclosure.  The leadership in this pack is in flux with tension between Axel and Grayson being observed as well. Axel will often ride up on Grayson, and the two of them have been engaging in face-offs. A face-off is a face to face confrontation between two wolves, with tense posturing. When Axel and Grayson are focusing on each other, that gives Denali a break from the tension.  It is always educational to look back at previous events when analyzing pack dynamics, Shadow and Malik, arctic brothers born on May 8, 2000 had their fair share of brotherly moments.

Logs written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

Denali getting a restful moment from the pack activity

 

August 2008 – Shadow and Malik face-off with Grizzer watching

Grizzer enjoys his daily interactions with wolf care staff. While greeting staff, he will play bow and then excitedly run around the Pack Holding Area. For a 15-and-a-half-year-old wolf, he is very mobile and active. Staff continue to open the Pack Holding Area for the Exhibit Pack to come in and greet Grizzer when feasible. Although staff aren’t always able to do this daily, a few times a week seems to work well for Grizzer.

The combination of staff interactions and fence line greetings with the Exhibit Pack provides Grizzer with the social stimulation he needs. Grizzer also utilizes the tops of the dens in the Back Habitat and Pack Holding Area to watch the Exhibit Pack. Just being able to hear and smell them from afar gives Grizzer additional engagement with his surroundings.

Logs written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

Recently, staff have noticed Grizzer engaging in what is known as caching behavior. Caching is when a wolf takes an object (usually food), and buries it under snow, soil, leaves, or other material, for later retrieval. He will cache small chunks of meat, using his nose to bury them in the snow. Now that he is the only wolf in retirement, he can retrieve his caches without having them taken by another wolf.

Grizzer is currently on a diet of 3 pounds of meat a day. We alternate between pork, beef, and other meat, to provide variety in his diet. Staff have been encouraging him to come into the Pack Holding Area vestibule to eat, to help him build a positive association in that space. Previously, that space had been where Luna came in to eat. Having that positive association was important for her on her last day, as she willingly came into the vestibule with minimal stress response.

We have limited numbers of Luna adoption kits left in our online store. Once they have sold out we will not be restocking, so if you would like to purchase an adoption kit in memory of Luna, visit https://shop.wolf.org/Ambassador_Wolf_Adoption_Kits_p/9809p.htm .

The temperatures in Ely have been dropping below zero this week. Wolves are usually more active during the colder months, and pack dynamics are more intense. Axel and Grayson continue to test Denali for weakness and have been focusing on Boltz as well. Distractions are an important tool that staff use to ease tension within the pack. One of the most important distractions we use is food. If staff feel like things are getting too ramped up, we will feed a deer torso,  a bag of chicken, a beaver carcass, or whatever else we have on hand.  If you watch the Exhibit Pack webcam, you might be able to spot some of these food resources in the enclosure!

Written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

In an effort to give Grizzer some social stimulation, we have been opening up the Pack Holding Area and allowing the Exhibit Pack to come in and greet Grizzer through the fence. At first, they displayed some anxious behavior, with Grayson being the most anxious. Denali, Boltz, and Axel all calmed down after a while and had face to face greetings with Grizzer. Although there was some posturing between Denali and Grizzer with neither of them backing down, the interaction wasn’t aggressive, which is a good sign. Grayson stayed back and didn’t approach Grizzer at all. Grayson has always had more of a timid personality, and with the current lack of leadership within the pack, he struggles to maintain confidence.

Wolf logs written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

 

After Luna’s passing, staff are motivated to keep Grizzer stimulated.  One method is to open up the Pack Holding Area during morning wolf care, which allows the Exhibit Pack to come in and greet Grizzer through the fence. During these sessions, Grizzer is locked out of the Pack Holding Area, but has full access to the East Side and Back Habitat. Grizzer has not displayed any aggression towards the other wolves, in fact, he seems eager to engage with them. Although he could leave the fence line at any time, he chooses to stay and greet the others, often face to face. Once the Exhibit Pack is back in the main enclosure, Grizzer is let back out into the Pack Holding Area, and he gets to investigate the areas that the other wolves marked. This helps keep his cognitive ability stimulated.

Grizzer was weighed last week, and his current weight is 125 lbs. This is a great weight for him, especially going into winter.

Wolf logs written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

Things are going well in the Exhibit Pack. The wolves have been sharing bedding space, taking advantage of the cover hay on top of the pump housing. The pump housing is large enough so that all four wolves can fit on top, however, Axel can be a bit obnoxious and test the patience of the others. This testing behavior usually leads to him going off and finding his own space. There is plenty of cover hay in front of the observation windows, so he doesn’t have to look too far for a comfortable spot.

Ely has had some significant snowfall recently, and with fresh snow comes an air of excitement for the wolves. Axel is often the instigator of interactions and has been observed engaging Grayson in chases around the exhibit. If you watch our wolf cams regularly, you may notice that the Exhibit Pack’s activity level tends to heighten around 4 pm.  This increase in activity is indicative of the pack’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle that is present in living beings.

Wolf logs written by Assistant Curator, Leanne Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Luna’s euthanasia on Tuesday afternoon, November 26th, 2019.  I know for some watching the webcams (and even our wolf log last week) she seemed to be doing good by greeting and eating (two parameters that I said were the ones I was watching for a decline). The fact is, Luna was incredibly tolerant of pain, we knew that from the time she was a pup, throughout the many issues in her life, we saw that tolerance over and over again.  As the curator, I assess the surveillance video on a daily basis.  Wolves tend to mask pain in the presence of packmates (wolves and humans alike), likely a survival mechanism to avoid showing weakness.  The video I saw on Tuesday and the look in her eyes while I did a physical assessment made me decide that she had enough.

In my mind, there was no other choice than to treat her with the respect she deserved and end the decline from this aggressive spindle cell sarcoma.  She had been strong in the fight of this cancer which was first identified in March, 2019.  The March surgery removed a mass on her left neck area. The biopsy report at that time was inconclusive, but the return of the growth in July led to a second biopsy with a diagnosis of an aggressive spindle cell sarcoma.  Complete extraction was not possible in July due to several deep masses embedded in the muscle behind her shoulder blade.  Staff prepared to manage Luna to the best quality of life possible and that also meant having a plan to make the difficult decision and reduce painful suffering.  It was a hard, day in wolf care.

We continue to monitor Grizzer and while his first night without Luna was a challenge, he is settling into a routine and the December wolf care calendar will include some increased staffing to give Grizzer the attention he needs.  He has no health issues at this time and the addition of some much needed snow roofs is keeping him dry and with safe footing as he travels throughout the retired areas.