Over the last two weeks, the wolf care staff have been focused on the well-being of Exhibit Pack member Boltz.  In summer, we typically experience Boltz’s nocturnal behavior  and tendency to seek comfort in the wooded areas of the enclosure, where he tries to avoid the pitfalls of summer including heat, humidity and a variety of insects.  In early August, he was starting to modify his behaviors a bit, coming down to hang out on the top of the den in the breeze.   With the return of the “What’s for Dinner”program in August, Boltz was feeding on the weekly deer carcass with Axel and Denali (actually Denali chooses who gets to eat with him and Boltz is always welcome).  On August 23rd, we were in the middle of several days of 85 degree heat and 90% humidity.  While this wasn’t as oppressive as the 94 degrees on the 4th of July, it was more problematic because the wolves have already begun to grow their winter coats.  Staff noticed Boltz a bit wobbly on his back legs.  There was no noticeable signs of an injury and we have had experience with wolves dehydrating.  The staff gave Boltz a dozen bonedust ice cubes and within an hour he was much better.  But, the next few days, the heat and humidity continued, with Boltz waxing and waning in mobility.  Our first concern was that he may have lost electrolytes while he was dehydrated, so pedialyte ice cubes were added.  Boltz did better and started to eat what was offered (chicken drumsticks are his favorite), but there was something about his movement that just didn’t seem right.  Hours of surveillance video was reviewed (thanks to the Explore.org cameras, we have a better view of the upper hillside and back den).  We pieced together a timeline and shared it with our local vets as well as the U of MN Neurology department.  We are going through several possible diagnosis; treating the less invasive items first in the hopes of improving his stability before having to immobilize him and take him to the clinic.  There is always a risk to immobilization even on healthy animals, much more on animals that may have their immune systems compromised.  The other risk, which we take very seriously, is if we take him out of the pack for vet care, the other wolves may perceive him to be a disperser, essentially ending his place in the Exhibit Pack.   We want to make sure that we exhaust all options before we go through with removal from the pack.  The first treatment includes a 7 day dose of Clindamycin for a possible protozoa.  On his first day of treatment, he gladly ate 4 pounds of meat, had several drinks of water (staff have added two more waterers to the upper enclosure) and is choosing to rest under the dense canopy.  The other pack members frequently walk by when staff are with Boltz and he seems to accept Denali and Grayson, but Axel seems to stimulate a lip curl response from Boltz.  Boltz seems to be more comfortable in the upper enclosure than he is in the lower enclosure near the public.  This  has been our experience with other wolves that aren’t feeling well, they prefer to stay to the back and seek some cover.  We will continue to search the cameras to monitor his behavioral patterns and will keep everyone posted on the wolf logs as we work through some potential issues.  If you have been a follower of our webinars, you may recall that Boltz had a medical exam in May and was diagnosed with an odontoblastoma.  While this type of cancer is benign, there is no doubt we are concerned about the potential for this to be something more serious.

An animals eyes can tell us how they are feeling