Winter is a time for wolves to respond to the hormonal urges associated with the breeding season. Even though the Center's wolves are spayed and neutered, they still maintain some of the social behaviors termed pair bonding. In this week's photos, Lucas sniff's Lakota's coat, while MacKenzie looks on. It's usually Lucas and MacKenzie who share bonding behavior, but MacKenzie's nervous behavior seems to drive Lucas to Lakota. There seems to be no question that MacKenzie is still dominant over Lakota, no matter how nervous she is.
Thanks for the many emails and phone calls from wolf care supporters… Over the next few weeks, we will be including photos of Lucas sent by those who felt a strong connection and appreciated his presence as an ambassador wolf.
Lucas was more social with staff earlier in the week, but appeared more wary as the week wore on. Perhaps this coincided with colder weather, or with the exhibit pack getting more noisy as the week progressed. This week's photo shows Lucas keeping an eye on the staff working in the retired pen, but staying just out of sight.
Lucas remains a bit shy, but seems to be fine otherwise. It's hard to say the cause of this, there are a wide variety of behavioral changes that appear during this time of the year. He actively takes his vitamins and will approach for food, but it seems he only wants human contact on his terms, so staff respect his space and continue to observe him for other behavioral or physical changes.
Lucas has been the focus of many discussions this week. Staff noticed a weeping eye several weeks ago; but examinations don't appear to show any type of eye injury. Staff clean the weepy debris from his face and it appears to show up again the next day. There are several things that can cause this: a slight infection, a weakening of the immune system and even a response to stress. There's major construction across the road from the retired pack that has been going on for some time. Staff have noticed MacKenzie a bit more irritable as well. As fall approaches we expect things to quiet down. Until then, we continue to clean his eye, and check on his physical conditon.
Lucas seems to be doing better, although he has a bit of a stain from his weeping eye. The eye condition has improved and the stain should fade. He's resistant to staff cleaning his face. After the last time his face was washed, he proceeded to roll in the dirt to get rid of the smell. He's been very active with the cooler weather. The Workin' for Wolves program in October will be moving the den boxes out from under Lakota's pile of dirt and creating a more accessible and comfortable den box complete with new straw.
As you can see in the picture, Lucas is almost aproaching his 13th birthday. From all the retired pack, he is the one whose age is more noticeable, but that doesn't stop him from enjoying some play time with his littermates. Today he chased Lakota around the enclosure, and was also observed play bowing to her in response. It is good to see they still have stamina to play!
During the medical exam for the arctics, the retired wolves watched intently on the action, Lucas seemed to be having a good day today. He was alert and very stable. Sorry, no photos, we were focused on the main pack today.
Lucas is slowing down a bit. Of all the wolves in retirement, he seems to show his age. He stll manages to get his fair share of a carcass. Lately, bow hunters have been bringing in scraps of deer, usually the vetebrae with a head remaining. These have been fed to the retired pack along with their regular meal. It appears that Lucas has taken to eating the meat off the vetebrae and sleeping with the deer head in the den box. It seems to keep the possession from the MacKenzie and Lakota while he gets some sleep.
During our last program called the Workin' for Wolves weekend, participants did many enclosure enrichment and maintenance projects. In addition, the group generously donated a brand-new single wheelbarrow to take the place of one of our old ones, which was literally on its last leg. The wolf care staff appreciated this generosity very much, as these pieces of equipment are used often for maintenance work and for feeding. In this photo, Lucas is checking out the new wheelbarrow that was used to take the deer out to the retired pack.
The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.