Lakota has had a good week, on Monday’s check, she and MacKenzie were running shoulder to shoulder with Lakota still showing the submissive head posture to MacKenzie as the 2nd ranking female in the Retired Pack. Certainly, the dominance is calmer in Retirement, but it is still existent. I would also like to make a note to the Nannies selected for this year’s pups. We are still juggling teams, and once the teams are set, we will send out a briefing packet to each team member (probably by email), so teams can have some opportunity to converse prior to arrival and possibly offer to carpool to Ely.

The following text was written by Workin' for Wolves participants: Theresa Williams and Joyce Wells. For almost fifteen years of age, Lakota has the thickest and softest fur of all the wolves. With the warm weather we had on Saturday, she had a hard time cooling off. With the Workin’ for Wolves program this weekend Lakota did a lot of pacing and staying towards the rear of the enclosure to avoid the activity. On Sunday she was much calmer and more relaxed again. The Workin’ for Wolves crew completed a lot of work in the Retired pack, removing a winter’s worth of straw to help provide cool places for Lakota to rest.

Lakota has been enjoying the cooler temperatures, and the fresh snow that accumulated over the weekend. She spends her evenings in the denbox, and smells of the fresh cedar chips that were recently spread during the Workin' for Wolves weekend. We spread cedar chips in an effort to reduce the insect population, not much chance of insects when we still have snow on the ground and temperatures are barely reaching 40 degrees. Lakota and MacKenzie are 15 years old today, in honor of their birthday, they received a small amount of sundried cranberries from Paul and Christine Batiste, along with a donation to buy them something special for this week's dinner. We haven't decided yet, but I think we will likely get them a roasting chicken a piece.

You may have noticed that we are experiencing some technical difficulty with the webcams. We hope to have them repaired this week. We appreciate your patience and support for the Ambassador wolves at the Center. The Nanny Application deadline has passed. Now we will begin to coordinate teams and make selections. We plan to have the award letters mailed by February 15th. The wolves are doing well, and have fared the recent cold snap without issues.

Happy President’s Day, Due to the Holiday, all of the logs will be the same posting today: The Nanny selection process has been completed and award letters were mailed on the 15th of February. We are still in the selection process for the Behavioral Observation program, and have extended the deadline until April 15th. We intend to have the Behavioral Observation award letters for those current applicants sent by February 22nd. Please be patient, as this is a very important task. We want to make sure we have a good fit for each crew to have the most positive experience for the pups. One other comment relates to a new face you may be seeing on the Exhibit Pack webcam. After 6 months of training, work with the Retired Pack and an opportunity to gain Shadow’s trust, Don Gossett and Sharee Johnson have been successfully integrated in the Exhibit Pack as a Level I wolf care staff. Shadow was a bit hesitant at first, but has been very responsive to the newest staff members. Being a Level I handler means that they must always be accompanied by a Level III for safety, with a Level 2 for backup. So, when new staff are in the enclosure, you are likely to see 3 or 4 staff. We want to make sure that all staff that will be handling pups are perceived as part of the program by Shadow and Maya. If a staff person is not trusted by Shadow, and they are observed handling the pups, it can create an aggressive situation. This is why we are so stringent on the Nanny program, it is critical to the social dynamics of the wolf yard that all people interacting with the pups respect the adult wolves, especially Shadow. Remember, this pup introduction’s purpose is to maintain a socially cohesive pack.

Lakota was very active during a check after a recent snowfall, she continues to be the most excitable of all the wolves on site. She starts with a playbow, lowering her front legs and springing back into a run. MacKenzie rarely chases her anymore, but that doesn’t stop Lakota from displaying the behavior. It is good to see a wolf nearing 15 years of age with that kind of spunk.

Even though Lakota’s hearing has diminished and her vocal chords no longer support a howl, she is still alert to the activities within and throughout the wolf yard. In this week’s video clip for MacKenzie, she shows a submissive greeting to MacKenzie followed by the motions of a howl. In her video clip, she investigates the enclosure and tosses a deer hide into the air. These are all expressions of strong social cohesiveness between the individuals of a pack.

Lakota taking stuffed toys from the pup pen to the Retired Enclosure.

The weather has turned warm here, from temperatures of -30 degrees Fahrenheit last week to temperatures of + 35 degree Fahrenheit today. The smell of spring was in the air, even if it was just a normal January thaw, and the promise of cold air returning later this week. When warm weather occurs, the wolves do respond differently, with a little more spring in their step and more play behavior. Even the retired wolves did a few social bouts this week. As a reminder, Nanny and Behavioral Observation applications are still being accepted until February 1st. We are willing to accept the application as an email attachment.

Lakota has been doing well; she has a good appetite and remains warm and dry in the den boxes during the worst cold. The issues with the cameras being off-line not only affects viewers who like to watch, but wolf care staff use it to monitor the retired wolves to get a sense of activity when we are not in the enclosure. Often with older animals, their excitement to see a handler may mask a pain or ailment. Being able to observe remotely, gives us a sense of how much a wolf is resting, who they are sleeping with, if there’s any stiffness when getting up and moving. We are happy to be able to keep the cameras on from our office to check in on the retired wolves as they near 15 years old. The Nanny Application deadline has passed, and Assistant Wolf Curator, Donna Prichard and I are meeting to organize teams. We will have the award letters mailed by February, 15th. The Behavioral Observation team has a few positions remaining, so, you will continue to see this program advertised.