Two overall observations were made in the last month. Mackenzie and Lucas have been noticeably more aggressive to the pups, but the pups responses have been slightly different. Malik flattens his ears, lowers his tail and instantly drops to the ground in submission. Shadow is more defiant, even to the point of growling back to Mackenzie. This causes intense reactions from both Mackenzie and Lucas, with Shadow being aggressively forced to submit.
Mackenzie's eye seems better, Lucas is still sensitive to light and appears to be listless. Their progress will continue to be monitored. Jen Westlund and Lori Schmidt were at the Wildlife Science Center for the past 3 days taking a class taught by Dr. Mark Johnson, from Wildlife Veterinary Resources. The course was entitled, Wolf Handling for Researchers and Managers. It was an excellent course and will be extremely valuable for the April 23rd medical exam scheduled for the Center's wolves.
Of all the wolves in retirement, Lucas looks like he is slowing down the most. He's noticeably slower to rise after sleeping and lets out a groan everytime he lays down. He does favor a den box to the open ground that his sister's frequent, but lately the draw of the warm sun has brought him more in camera view. Another Lucas trait is the changes to his pelage. Every week, he appears lighter and lighter in coloration, especially in his face. He is still a gentle animal, and prefers to avoid the overexhuberant behavior that his siblings (usually Lakota) portrays. He does fend well on a carcass and overall looks good.
Lucas sleeping on carcass, barely moving all day. Lakota licking Shadow's face a lot more than usual. Mackenzie disciplined pups if they came near staff while picking up scat. Mackenzie also charged Shadow if he approached Lori Schmidt, the curator. Lakota accepts attention from staff, but becomes nervous and jumpy after a few seconds. Mackenzie is clearly in charge.
This week's photo shows the most puzzled look from Lucas. Curator, Lori Schmidt was in the enclosure checking on MacKenzie when Lucas came by to investigate. I'm not sure what he saw, but it sure confused him.
As stated in last week's notes, the Wolf Curator redesigned the Wednesday night feeding program. To avoid a situation where the adults take possession of the deer legs first, the pups were isolated in the smaller holding kennel and the adults were isolated in the big pack holding area. The legs were placed inside the main enclosure and the pups were released. When the pups clearly had possession of the carcass, the adults were released. The pups were able to guard and possess the food since they got to it first. This seemed to work well and with modifications, will likely be the way the pup feeding programs are done in the future. Thursday, August 21st was the scheduled day for staining the building within the enclosure. This meant that all the wolves were isolated in the large pack holding area for the day ( 11 am – 3:30 pm). The pups are right at home since this was their main enclosure during the socialization process. The adults are not as comfortable with long term confinement and demonstrated some anxious behavior and a 5-minute bout of aggression toward Lakota. After the painters left the enclosure and the wolves were released, the adults spent several minutes scent marking and scent rolling in the front of the enclosure were the smell of residual stain remained. The pups spent 90% of the day sleeping and were somewhat oblivious to the events of the day. It was a real benefit to long-term management of the pack to have the pups so familiar with this pack holding area. As they mature, their comfort with this isolation pen will make for calmer interactions during future enclosure projects. Any future pups at the center should be reared in a similar manner as these Arctic pups, including all of the time and energy of the Nannies.
On 9/27, the wolves were held for several hours for the final staining of the building. The adult wolves were more anxious in the pack holding area than on previous days of confinement. Lucas and Lakota made several attempts to escape the pack holding area, not in the direction of the woods, but the attempts were made to get back into their enclosure. The main pack area is what the wolves consider as their territory and whenever they are anxious or stressed, they make many attempts to get back to where they are most comfortable, the main enclosure. As in previous holding attempts, the pups slept through most of the events of the day, including when the Wolf Curator gave Lakota and Lucas an IM injection. Again, this demonstrates the value of the Nanny program and the time spent in acclimating the puppies to the pack holding area. THANK YOU NANNIES…
Lucas's eye condition seems to have cleared up. He's still a bit stiff getting up in the morning's, but once he moves around he seems to do fine. He's been choosing to sleep under the new branches from the spruce tree, he likes the cover.
The last weekend of October will be a Working for Wolves weekend. Lucas will be anxious to get his den box out of the dirt pile Lakota created, so he can actually walk into it rather than crawl in a 12 inch space.
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