We are 2 weeks post retirement and Grizzer is starting to become more interactive. Of all the wolves in the Exhibit Pack, Grizzer showed the most behavioral issues with Shadow's retirement. Since the 2008 pup introduction, we have observed Grizzer to be tolerant of pups, not forcing any conflict and letting the pups climb all over him. As those pups matured, he continued to avoid conflict, and maintained a social relationship. With the exception of the dominance he showed towards Malik, he's always been quick to give in, especially to Shadow's dominance. In the absence of Shadow's leadership, Grizzer appears to be responding with avoidance behavior when Maya, Denali or Aidan are in a dominant interaction. We interpret this as a lack of behavior towards assuming a leadership role, resulting in either Aidan or Denali becoming the next dominant male. The Center is re instituting a program called Wolf Watch. This program occurs the first Thursday of every month, and involves training program participants in data collection, and having the observers camp out in the auditorium for a night of observation. We hope to offer this program the first Thursday of every month, and be able to interpret the pack dynamics without the influence of wolf care staff interactions with the wolves.
In the last few month's prior to retirement, Shadow was very tense when any of the other wolves approached. This could have been related to his aging condition and overcompensation for dominance as he began to physically age. The pack is very calm since Shadow's retirement, and Aidan has benefited greatly. With Maya under less tension, Aidan has been less of a target, and was observed swimming during a recent enclosure enrichment, something that he hasn't done in years, likely due to the lack of a quick escape in the water. Aidan has been showing some dominance, and the following notes were observed by Wolf Ethology Students: Kara Lindberg, Kathy Shaw, Emily Perry, Jim Shero <br> Aidan has been very attentive to interactions between all of the pack members. Shadow initiated multiple howls, to which the pack responded. Aidan joined in these responses and stood near the other members of the pack , both of which are recent behaviors for him. Aidan has been initiating play bouts with Denali and has begun to assert dominance over Denali. One interesting interaction included Aidan pinning Denali while about ten feet away Maya pinned Grizzer. Aidan and Maya held the pins for several seconds. Also, two times this week Aidan and Maya were seen parallel gaiting together.
Denali is still very social, interacting with Grizzer and Maya in chase behavior, and also Aidan when Aidan is showing confidence. Denali allows Aidan to show rank over him, but is using direct eye contact towards Aidan. So far, the pack is showing no clear leader, nor any indication that dominance other than Maya is defined. As a reminder, the summer season is the calmest season of the year, and rank activity may not be apparent until fall. The following observations were made by Ethology Students: Sarah Bruskotter, Jocelyn Faydenko, Steve Dibble. <br> Denali and Aidan have spent a fair amount of time playing this week. The increased amount of play behavior suggests relaxed wolves. Denali has been experiencing dominance from Aidan this week, something he hasn’t experienced from Aidan in quite some time.
In the last week, staff have noticed a considerable calm over the Exhibit Pack, specifically related to Aidan and Maya. Aidan is freely going into the pack holding with Maya, frequently on the greeting rock, and always at the fence for morning vitamins. These are behaviors that were not always the case a month ago. We have also noticed a stronger association between Aidan and Grizzer than had been previously observed. This association is not as strong as Grizzer and Denali, but worthy of noting. The Center is re instituting a program called Wolf Watch. This program occurs the first Thursday of every month, and involves training program participants in data collection, and having the observers camp out in the auditorium for a night of observation. We hope to offer this program the first Thursday of every month, and be able to interpret the pack dynamics without the influence of wolf care staff interactions with the wolves.
On Saturday, Danielle Solberg and her grandmother Barb, volunteered to do some pack observations to help interpret the current pack dynamics of the Exhibit Pack. These type of observations are valuable, as they help give a perspective that doesn't involve wolf care in the enclosure. Danielle did an excellent job taking notes and observed Maya doing some parallel gating with each of the males in the Exhibit, but more frequently with Aidan. In an effort to learn more about the pack dynamics (post Shadow retirement), we are resurrecting a program called Wolf Watch, which occurs on the first Thursday of every month. Check out the Programs tab on the wolf center home page, Wolf Watch programs are posted under the Seminar tab.
Denali is definitely testing his position in the pack, and the Youtube video this week shows him doing chin rests, ride up behavior, pinning, whirling, and squashing behaviors, usually to Grizzer, but sometimes Maya. Denali is an active individual that will continue to test his limits and at this point, Maya is the only one showing any resistance to those limits.
While Grizzer is increasing social contact with the pack and staff, he has developed a new behavior that will make the wolf care staff more diligent in observations, management of the wolf yard and distractions for the pack. This new behavior relates to Aidan. It appears that when Grizzer is anxious from Denali testing, activity around the wolf yard, noise in retirement or Maya showing dominance, he is quick to redirect toward Aidan. This behavior makes Aidan extremely timid, and magnifies the weakness he portrays. This could just be a transitional phase for Grizzer, as it's only been 4 weeks, or this could be the behavior that Grizzer portrays until their is clear leadership in the male rank order. Of all the behaviors and wolves to watch, we will focus our first Wolf Watch program on the dynamics of Grizzer and probably Aidan.
The following log was written by Wolf Watch Observer: James Peregrine<br><br> Aidan has gained confidence as indicated with the "Direct Stare' photograph this week and the Raised Leg Urination or RLU's. When Maya comes down to the front of the Exhibit after being in the woods, Aidan becomes timid with a tucked or T-4 tail. After a few moments, Aidan seeks Maya's attention by doing foreleg stabs to Maya. Denali licked Aidan's legs, a grooming behavior. This behavior lasted over 7 minutes. Overall, Aidan is semi-timid with the other wolves, but shows confidence in later points.<br> <br> Note from the Curator <br><br> As a reminder, the Wolf Watch program will be scheduled the first Thursday of the month until the pack dynamics settles into some defined leadership. For more information, check out the Program tab on the website under Seminars…
As the Youtube video revealed, Shadow had a very easy transition into retirement, but social bonds are strong, and he continues to show a lot of howling to the pack. The packs response varies, sometimes rallying, other times ignoring him. In the months prior to Shadow's retirement, Shadow was very intense with staff, growling at individuals and keeping several people on the outside of the enclosure. Since his retirement, Shadow is a complete opposite, showing very strong social engagement towards all staff that enter the Retired Enclosure. We are pleased with the relationship between Shadow and Malik, sharing den space is a good sign of social compatibility.
For those of you concerned that Malik is the lower ranking pack member again, his actions in the last week should reassure you that Malik is managing well. First and foremost, wolves are social, and the best management scenario is for wolves to live in a social situation. Malik has always been the more subordinate since Shadow and Malik were pups, but with Shadow still adapting, Malik has had an opportunity to gain a few things. One issue is food possession, the Youtube video this week shows Shadow and Malik feeding on the carcass, and Malik has no problem guarding food. Actually, in one part of the clip, Shadow waits by the carcass while Malik feeds. The other notable event this week relates to the claiming of resting places. While the webcam shows they have no problem sharing den space, Shadow did approach the smaller den rock and entered it. Malik, who hasn't even approached that den in 7 months, watched Shadow enter, came over, pushed Shadow out, and now is sleeping in this den on a daily basis. His photo shows that he is quite comfortable in this space.
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