Twenty days ago, we celebrated a milestone. Grizzer turned 17 years of age on May 5th, 2021. We shared his birthday with some of his favorite staff; Wolf Specialist Abby Keller made him a birthday cake that he enjoyed (well, Denali helped). We see Grizzer slowing down, but not losing his personality or spunk. Due to some advancing cataracts, he relies heavily on his sense of smell. A decline in vision has not impacted his awareness. He manages to identify our Veterinarian from a distance, usually with a warning bark-howl. To try and reduce some of his tension about a vet visit as well as some of the chainsaw work done by the Vermilion student work crews, we are trying to integrate our Vet and VCC instructor, Ryan Miller into the wolf care team. So far, Grizzer has been the biggest challenge, posturing and testing just like he did when he was a yearling, although a bit slower. We use techniques to help the process including using positive associations. With the new person’s smell (maybe from a t-shirt or flat hand at the fence) along with a treat, we try to gain acceptance. So far, what we have gained is an appreciate that regardless the age, a wolf’s personality seems to live on. Grizzer was a bold, testing yearling and he’s a bold testing 17 year old. Denali’s response has been quite different. Denali’s has displayed more playbows and social instigation, indicative of his history as a pack member that was most concerned with the food being delivered rather than the staff that made the delivery. In this week’s photo, Grizzer uses his sense of smell to determine the staff interactions and the photos below show his birthday cake and the attitude of a yearling wolf, posturing and testing the dominant wolf, Shadow.