We are extremely pleased with Shadow's transition. He had one rough day on the 4th of July, one week post retirement. The issues were a combination of things. The heat and humidty were unbearable by Ely standards (temps nearing 90 degrees with high humidity), the flies started to emerge, Shadow hadn't started shedding and the Curator took a day off (who up until that point had been with him every day). Wolf care staff member Jen Westlund was called in and helped calm the situation. The following week, after displaying some agitation, Shadow rubbed himself up against the fence next to a running garden hose. Staff was able to completely douse Shadow, encouraging the start of the shedding process. Once Shadow started shedding, his undercoat came off by the bucket load. We noticed an immediate response in calmness, and an increase in resting behavior. Staff also installed sprinkler hoses on both enclosures, and now allow water to mist several times a day. The wolves will walk under the mist, fully wetting their coats.

The colder weather has increased the wolves diet. A full deer carcass doesn't last long between the four wolves. In this week's video, you see Grizzer and Maya sharing a deer hide. There doesn't seem to be much competition between these littermates, although there is the occassional wrestling match.

Extremely vigorous with food. Was stressed during pup program. Was constantly pacing along the pen and trying to find escape route. Was whining to get out. Did well during program; a little anxious but was able to be distracted with pine cone and deer hide. Howled with adult wolves after encouragement from staff.

As a general rule, Denali is not very submissive to Maya's dominance. He is more likely to raise his tail, posture his long, lanky body to face off with Maya. Of course, Maya increases the dominant growl, until she eventually moves away. Although, when watching the video for this week's Youtube posting, there was a short parallel gate between Maya and Denali, which is a social bonding behavior. The upcoming months will be interesting. 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.

Maya has been noticeably calmer in the last week, and while she continues to make every effort to get Denali to roll over, she has only succeeded in making Aidan submissive and Grizzer avoid her. Certainly the role of the dominant female plays a critical part in pack dynamics, and while she and Shadow had a strong bond, his weakening condition made life more difficult for Maya. What is interesting, is the Maya has spent very little time focused on the Retired Enclosure, but seems to be putting all of her focus on the future of the pack. 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.

Shadow's been extremely social in retirement, and we have not recorded any bark howling or tucked tail response with activity in the wolf yard or actions in the main enclosure. This was not the case when he was the dominant male in the Exhibit Pack, where he displayed real leadership by threat displaying towards anything that was not familiar and bark howling as a warning to strangers. In retirement, Malik and Shadow co-exist, with very little show of dominance with the exception of Malik's possessiveness over food. We are concerned about Shadow's weight. While it is common for wolves to lose weight in the summer, Shadow's weight has dropped considerably since April. On April 29, 2010, Shadow weighed 87 lbs. The ~ 72 lb weight today is a significant concern, and certainly reinforces the decision to retire him from the stresses of Exhibit life and gain the benefits of limited competition and unlimited resources in retirement. We will implement a feeding regime to increase his weight, but we must also consider the possibility that there are underlying physical conditions to monitor. The good thing is, behaviorally and physically, he is very active, alert and calm, getting a lot of rest in the den.

Aidan has been displaying some very interesting behavior. While watching the interactions between the other wolves, he would paw the ground with his front feet and then kick out with his back feet. He was observed displaying this behavior once every 10 minutes. This behavior is interpreted as social behavior from a wolf that wants to join pack activities, but may be a bit intimidated. It's a modification of the playbow, and certainly reinforces Aidan's social engagement in this pack. 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.

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 Grizzer still being aloof and spending time alone in the woods, but interacting with all pack members as the feeding approached. Grizzer does have a bad habit of getting excited prior to the feeding, biting on the chain at the gate and digging or rolling rocks in anticipation of the feeding. 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.

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 Denali doing a number of poses in front of the windows, social greetings between Aidan and Denali, and with several food defense displays of lip curls and snarls, as he has no problem controlling the deer carcass. One behavior that was very interesting was Denali's (and later Maya and Aidan) sweet tooth. He was filmed picking cherries and eating them. It was interesting behavior as the research team had discovered some wolf scat with evidence of berries in the scat. 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.