One of the concerns when working with wolves is the issue of separation from the pack being perceived as a dispersal from the pack. Some facilities have observed problems when a pack member is absent, even for the shortest of veterinary checks, and the rest of the pack doesn’t accept it back. We had a bit of concern about Lakota’s surgery, but we were cautious and kept Lakota in the adjacent vestibule in the Retired Pack so MacKenzie was able to see her. MacKenzie was amazingly tolerant, and lay several feet from the gate until Lakota was returned later to the enclosure. There has been no sign of investigation of Lakota’s stitches, and no dominance between the sisters.

With the more frequent feedings, smaller portions of food are required. Fortunately, people are cleaning out their freezers before deer season and donating some freezer burned meat to the Center. This makes for a nice meal, and a good size to cache in the enclosure.

MacKenzie is doing well, she has had many more interactions with Lakota in the past month than she had in the earlier part of the winter. This is usually an indication of how a wolf is physically doing, if they seek social contact, they seem to be feeling well.

MacKenzie’s photo may look a bit under the weather this week. Wolf care staff noticed her holding her left ear at an odd position and rubbing against the fence. When wolf care staff attempted to check the internal ear canal, she became very agitated. MacKenzie is a very dominant wolf and is very reluctant for any handling when she’s not feeling well. Upon the Veterinarian’s recommendation, wolf care staff started MacKenzie on otibiotic ear ointment twice a day. Getting the ointment in her ears is a bit of a challenge, but she allows wolf care staff to come behind her while another staff person offers frozen bonedust through the fence. She only has one week of this treatment.

MacKenzie is monitored daily for mobility and attitude. At this age, declines can happen quickly and the staff discusses any subtle change in her condition. She still maintains a good appetite and is able to compete with Lakota for food. In previous weeks, Lakota has taken food and guarded it from MacKenzie, this week MacKenzie did the same to Lakota. When the wolf care staff feed the Retired Pack, they generally stay in the enclosure long enough to ensure that each wolf gets their fair share. MacKenzie’s video this week also shows her shaking off dirt from her coat. This is one of those subtle signs that her mobility and stability is still good.

MacKenzie is doing well, she has some days when the temperatures are too warm for much activity, but she becomes more active later in the day. Staff will begin brushing the wolves to remove the dense undercoat and aid in their cooling. In this week’s video, you will see MacKenzie take the deer leg that Lakota was enjoying and retreat back to her favorite spot in the back of the enclosure.

They say when one sense becomes compromised, the others take over. In MacKenzie’s case, we know that her vision has been marginal for some time, but her sense of smell and hearing are tremendous. She is always alert to the sound of gates, freezer doors, voices of staff and interactions in the main exhibit. As her video demonstrates, her appetite is good; she really enjoys the beaver tails during a feeding.

The warming of the spring has been hard on wolves that still have a full winter coat. Staff have begun brushing the wolves to encourage shedding. At this weekend’s “Working for Wolves program, we will be mounting the sprinkler hose on the retired enclosure fence to provide some added relief this summer. The placement of the hose has a tendency to upset MacKenzie, as her poor vision has made it hard for her to define changes in the enclosure. Once the hose is in, the cool mist of air is a welcome addition to the summer enclosure.

MacKenzie is continuing to slow down, and as the warm weather approaches, we are noticing a great deal of panting. Wolves have a difficult time during this spring adjustment period when the temperatures can be very warm, but they haven’t begun the shedding process. Wolves will generally start to shed around the first of June. If you’ve ever visited Minnesota during May, you may have experienced the black fly season. It might explain why the shedding process is a bit more delayed.

MacKenzie is very alert to all activity that occurs within her enclosure and outside of her enclosure. In this week’s photo, she is doing a threat display towards the male dominance hierarchy in the Exhibit Pack, even though their fence line is over 25 feet away. One day during wolf care, MacKenzie was in a very excited mood, actually running toward wolf care staff and submitting. Her video clip this week, you show MacKenzie in a submissive posture, before she gets up and runs across the enclosure to one of the staff. It’s always a thrill to see these older animals so excited.