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

Lakota’s been very comfortable, utilizing the den boxes throughout the day as well as evenings. She doesn’t seem to require as much food as MacKenzie, and spent much of Saturday nights feeding caching her food. Her health is good, with the only noticeable issue related to the growth on her right left leg. This growth has been there for several years, and has yielded very little fluid or cells. It had very little growth after being initially identified. This past week, the wolf care staff noted either a pronounced growth or the arrangement of her winter hair making it appear larger. Lakota shows no problem with a full inspection of the growth and it doesn’t seem to bother her. Staff will continue to monitor this

Lakota has been actively excavating her den hole; fortunately the “Workin’ for Wolves crew used long stringers to support the birch logs covering the hole. Her suture site has healed and her hair has grown completely over the scar. Winter is the time for increased activity in the Exhibit Pack, which results in some interest from the Retired Pack. With leaf fall, they have a direct view through the fences and are frequently walking the fence line in response to the activity. This is good stimulus for wolves approaching 15 years of age.

One classic Lakota behavior is a face wipe, when a wolf rubs its’ face on the ground or in the snow after feeding. This behavior may have a function in cleaning the face of blood and debris from carcass feeding, or it might just feel good. In Lakota’s case, it appears the feel good response is a high likelihood. The snow and cold has increased the activity level of the Retired pack, winter is truly the season for wolves.

Lakota is doing well and has nearly completed the shedding process. Wolf Care staff will be monitoring the weather patterns and will likely choose a day in the upcoming month to schedule the surgery to remove the benign growth from her face. With the fly season dying down and the cooler mornings, this will be an ideal time. The growth seems to have no effect on her health, but she does scratch it with her dew claw, and we want to make sure she doesn’t open it and get an infection. We will keep you posted via the wolf logs on when this surgery will occur. This week’s video shows the rank order in the pack, even though MacKenzie is slowing down and not as agile as Lakota, she still shows her dominant status.

Lakota is doing well; we received a recent email expressing concern that Lakota had died because a photo on the webcam stalled while she was sleeping in the sun. The camera was off for 2 days, showing her in the same position. We can assure you that while she likes to take naps in the sun, even on the hottest days, she is active and agile and wolf care staff check on her multiple times a day, in additon to a monitor in the building which is on during business hours. If you see an image that shows a wolf not moving, always check the date and time on the image to see if the camera has stalled. Power outages and mystery technology woes can affect the camera image. Because of Lakota's desire to sleep in the sun, the wolf care staff not only treat her facial growth with antibiotics, but also zinc oxide to reduce any sun sensitivity. Please be assured that if anything happens to Lakota or MacKenzie, we will post the news on the web logs, but today, the only news to report is that Lakota seems to be as spry as ever, MacKenzie on the other hand, is showing her age.

Lakota's growth has started to really increase in size and after consultation with the vet, we have set a surgery date for September 10th. As you can see from Lakota's video, she is active and doesn't appear to have any physical effects from this benign growth, but we want to remove it and allow enough time for the hair to grow back before winter. We are giving it two more weeks to hopefully see a decline in growth before the surgery. Staff continue to clean the growth daily and apply antibiotics. She has completed the shedding of her winter hair and should have no problems with ambient temperature issues during the immobilization.

Lakota is doing well, and the planning process is in full force for her Surgery on the 10th. In order to do a surgery on a wolf, previous drugging history’s must be reviewed, food calculations prior to the event must be evaluated, and staff duties identified. Our wolves do not willingly jump into a car for the trip to the vet, and any added stress prior to the event can send a wolf into heat stress. So, the process involves sedating Lakota and transporting her to the vet clinic for the surgery, while other staff members stay with MacKenzie to avoid any negativity during the separation period. It is also important that Lakota has no food in her system for at least 2 days prior to the surgery. This will require a slight modification to their Wednesday, Saturday food schedule and a 2 day hold on her daily vitamins. This week’s video shows Lakota actively plucking the hide from a deer carcass. She maintains a good appetite and good health, which is key when sedating a 14 year old animal. Of course, there is always risks with anesthesia at any age, so many hours of time thinking about scenarios is critical.

Lakota’s surgery is scheduled for September 10th; the wolf care staff will be meeting on Wednesday the 4th to discuss the plan and staffing assignments. We will likely post a log after the return from the Vet clinic that day, but it may be later in the afternoon. All the parameters we were hoping for have been met. The morning weather conditions are much cooler, the fly season seems to have ended, the growth has slowed and Lakota has shed all of her winter hair. She is in good physical condition and hope to see a good outcome, but as I’ve said before, there is always a risk with anesthesia, especially on a 14-year old wolf. But, the location of this growth and size determines that it should be removed.

Lakota did extremely well with the surgery and immobilization. She was drugged at 7:04 am Central Daylight time, and at the clinic by 7:30 am. She weighed 92 lbs, which was the same weight during one of her 2001 exams, so in 6 years, she hasn't lost a pound. She is in exceptional shape for a 14 year old wolf. The growth was successfully removed and will be sent in for a tissue biopsy, although all indications show it as benign, we want to make sure. We also are doing a full blood panel to look at other age related issues such as BUN, glucose levels any any signs of abnormal readings. The conditions were ideal, with morning tempertures around 46 degrees farenheit, warming to the mid 60's. When a wolf is coming out of anesthesia, we usually bed them on a wool or fleece pad with hot water bottles. Lakota's video shows her recovering in the holding area with the full compliment of pads. Wolf care staff stayed with her until she regained full mobility, and placed her back in the enclosure with Mac around 3pm. We placed a full bale of straw in all the den boxes for comfort. Her incision is very dry and clean and she shows no sign of scratching. Although, most of the scratching response will likely come during the healing process. She is on daily pain treatment for 6 days and antibiotics for 7 days. She is doing very well and staff will check on her through the night.