We got our first snow during the week prior to Halloween, and it is still around. The past couple of days saw temperatures plunge to single digits for the first time this fall/winter. Luna’s winter coat is definitely keeping her warm and she is very active. Luna continues to appear to enjoy daily interactions with wolf care staff, and is very social with Grizzer.

This week’s log was submitted by Wolf Photography Weekend Participants Ken Kaveney, Lynn Kaveney, Anthony Brewer.

Luna was relaxed during the Behind the Scenes program. She seemed content on the top of the den enjoying treats from the curator. Luna continues to engage in social behaviors with Grizzer in the retirement areas.

Luna is showing good muscle tone as her winter undercoat begins to grow.  At the age of 5, her muzzle is starting to gray similar to MacKenzie’s, a female of similar pelage from our 1993 litter.  Luna is maintaining a weight of about 103 – 105 lbs.  While we would like to get her weight under 100 lbs., this is not the season to attempt this.  As winter approaches, she definitely needs resources to help her through the colder weather.  We are watching for additional signs of aging that may affect her joints.  In this photo, her back right hip has some play socket that is noticeable while she is sitting.  While it may be subtle now, these are the details that need to be scrutinized as Luna ages.

Luna was very relaxed with the participants from the Wolf Ethology class and even got on the scale with everyone sitting by the pup holding area.  Luna’s current weight is 106.4 lbs.  Luna looks good and we  continue to work on getting/keeping her at a good weight.  Although, I am not sure Luna has bought into the whole “diet” idea.  Just like the other wolves, Luna gets an enrichment.  The log picture shows her guarding a pig ear, which she gets once a month.  Luna also participated in the Mirror Self Recognition Test. She has been very receptive to body work and her mobility and tail posturing has shown a markable improvement.  Just to be clear, Luna’s issues are not just her femur, she has much greater concerns than the plate on her leg that has healed a long time ago.  The lack of  formation of her femoral head impacts many aspects of her physical condition, but she definitely seems like she feels more comfortable and is able to relax comfortably in the enclosure.   One thing that has not improved is Axel’s attitude toward Luna when he passes her in holding.  Axel displays a full hackle, growl and tail arousal when he passess Luna.  He hasn’t forgotten the events of a year ago.  

We haven’t gotten a new weight on Luna since the June 30th – 105 pound measurement, but she’s looking great, has shed her entire undercoat except at her neck and most important, she is feeling good.  We plan to weigh her again on August 2nd when we weigh the yearlings (on their birthday) .  She has really taken to the new bodywork techniques we learned this past month and we’ve never seen her so relaxed.  She is extremely excited to greet staff in the mornings and both she and Grizzer weight at the Pack Holding Area window while staff prepare their morning meatballs.  It’s been a good summer for wolves, cool temperatures and not much humidity.   It’s not the heat, but the humidity that makes things challenging, especially for wolves with some joint discomfort. 

Luna’s in the midst of shedding her uncoat.  Much of this undercoat is light in color that makes her appearance look a bit modeled in color.  But, if you look closely, you will see her guard hairs are starting to show some graying coloration.  It’s common to see wolves as they approach 5 or 6 years of age to start graying at the muzzle.  Luna continues to receive body work from the staff and we have noticed a significant amount of muscle development in the past several months.  We will be weighing her in the next week to see how she is progressing with her weight loss.  Once she lost most of her hair, we get a much clearer view of her muscle development. 

Staff continue to do body work on Luna whenever she feels good enough for hands on work.  She will back right over to staff when she wants the work or do an inhibited bite of the hand when she doesn’t.  If you are interested in learning more about our techniques for Luna, we will be featuring a webinar from the  practitioner who originally did the consolation last summer.  Here’s the link for the webinar – Sunday June 25th at 10 am Central.   If you are in Ely, she will also be doing private consultations with dog owners on Sunday afternoon and Monday. 

The biggest news for Luna is our desire to get her weight back down to ~95 pounds.  We spent the winter trying to work on the relationship with Grizzer and Luna and discovered that Luna took a few too many cache’s from Grizzer.  Grizzer is now at the age (and teeth wear) that requires smaller, more frequent meals and less bigger amounts to cache.  Luna is on the diet associated with a younger, pack life.  She gets to gorge on Saturday night, stimulating her stomach receptors to hold a larger volume of meat, then gets a smaller mid-week meal on Wednesdays.  We want her to lose weight, but we are managing it slowly.   So, here are Luna’s weights in the past, we want to turn back the clock to 2015, a weight of 95 – 98 pounds would be ideal for her physical condition. 



Weight in Pounds





1.5 years



~2 years



~3 years



~4 years



~ 5 years 1 month



~5 years 3 months


*shared enclosure with Grizzer since 11/201

*changed feeding protocols for Grizzer reducing excess caches in the enclosure


There is something about the contrast of Luna’s eyes, her dark pelage and the surrounding pine forest of the back habitat that makes these photographic moments striking.  With Luna’s dark pelage, she has a tendency to absorb radiant heat more quickly than the other wolves, so we have been working hard to brush not only Luna, but all the wolves to help them shed the insulating undercoat.  We would like to also announce that the consultant who initially helped us with Luna’s physical therapy last fall will be returning to the Center to offer a lecture and private consultations with dog owners.  Sandy Prantl will be offering a session called Body Work for Your Dog on Sunday, June 25th from 10 am – Noon at the Center in Ely, but we will also have the lecture available as a webinar.   She will provide background information to understand the self-care techniques to keep your dog structurally sound.   If you are in the Ely area, a 20-Minute Personal Consultation session with your dog is available on Sunday afternoon (6/25) and Monday (6/26).  The private consult fee is $40 with a portion of the proceeds supporting the Wolf Care Department.  We will more information on our website and to webinar subscribers in the upcoming weeks, if you would like to reserve a private consultation, please contact curator@wolf.org to reserve a spot.


This week’s photo shows Luna looking into the yard from the Pack Holding Area kennel.  This project involved building a wall that protects them from rain (a new rain gutter was added) and snow that drifts up against the fence.  We left a viewing window as both Luna and Grizzer like to watch the yard.  The Working for Wolves projects vary from reduction of fire hazard, removing branches that may cause the wolves to trip, tree planting, removal of straw, fresh wood chips, covering ground wire fence issues, building protective roof’s and barriers around the enclosure and cleaning raven droppings from the rocks.  It is amazing the amount of work that is done in a weekend with the dedicated participants that give so willingly of their time, energy and resources to improve the lives of our wolves. Luna is doing well.  I recently had a question on Youtube about the possibility of Luna rejoining the Exhibit Pack or was she “forever banned” to retirement.  I thought I would share my response here:  

Thanks for your question about Luna. Whenever we retire a wolf, there are many circumstances that impact the decision and those decisions are fluid depending upon the dynamics of the pack and the leadership in a pack. There’s no banishment here, only an ongoing process of behavioral interpretation and decisions to make sure we strive for the best care possible for each individual as well as the pack. In the past, we did transition Lakota out of retirement back into the pack, but she was lower ranking and she didn’t have the physical needs that we have to consider with Luna. Luna is getting the care she needs in retirement, including extended periods of body work with her on her back extending her back right leg. This type of care would be less likely in the pack, as you may witness in pack videos, as soon as one wolf is rolled over, the other 4 come to investigate. If you recall from her time in the Exhibit Pack, Luna would become defensive and aggressive with the other wolves around her. This could likely be a defense mechanism because of her medical limitations, but based on how she presents herself to get staff to work on her leg, we believe this is what she needs right now. We have also witnessed some antagonistic behavior from Axel towards Luna. Axel was the pup that received the brunt of Luna’s dominance on the introduction day and when the Exhibit Pack is moved off Exhibit for projects, they go past Luna. Axel usually has a high tail and hackles when he sees her. Needless to say, we are very concerned about Luna’s vulnerability with the pack.  

Luna will not be part of the medical protocol this spring because she received an extensive evaluation and exam last fall after her removal from the Exhibit Pack.   While we still think it was the best decision for Luna and the pups to move her to retirement, it’s been our experience that removal from the Exhibit Pack has two components, the physical change of space and the psychological removal from the pack.  It’s a challenge, especially for high ranking wolves like Luna to be extremely focused when the adjacent pack activity is heightened.  We experienced this in 2002 when Shadow was testing our dominant female, MacKenzie.  Once she lost the psychological connection of leading the pack, she relaxed and became more content in retirement.  While Luna continues to be “On Watch” for those Exhibit Pack moments, we have been noticing more contentment with life in retirement, especially when sharing den space with Grizzer.  For those of you who watch our Youtube channel, the last video showed Luna having some anxiety coming into the Wolf Care Center.  We have worked through that anxiety and she is back on track to enter the building and stand on the scale for regular weighing sessions.  Her last weight was 111 pounds which is consistent with Boltz.  But because of her hip condition, our vet would like her back at 95 pounds.  We have adjusted her feeding schedule and expect to see some weight loss as summer progresses.  Wolves traditionally look much thinner after they shed their undercoat.