Malik has the most challenging time with the basic necessities of summer wolf care, which is fly ointment. Wolves generally avoid things over their heads and the lower ranking wolves are especially nervous. We had to resort to an old friend who has only had fence to fence greetings with Malik since Shadow was retired. Shadow is a bit particular about who is allowed in his enclosure, which limits Malik's social group. Grizzer knows the benefits of living alone, all wolf care staff socialize with him.
Written by Ethology Participant: Anna Schmidt<br> Malik, the smaller of the International Wolf Center's Arctic wolves, is often exhibits a docile behavior. This is due to his thirteen years of age. He lives with his brother Shadow, in an enclosure and is often found resting in the den to get away from the Minnesota bugs. Malik spends part of his day wandering around the perimeter of the enclosure to cheek out sounds. He whines when he is nervous or wants attention. When an ambulance is heard in the distance, this initiates the white wolves to start howling. Even though Malik is old for a wolf, he is still observant. His ears prick forward, his nose raises up to sniff the air, and his narrow eyes focus forward whenever there is a strange stimuli.
The retired area has increased vegetative cover with the recent rainfall and cooler temperatures. Malik spends a lot of time in the dense cover. His recent activities relate to caching some of the mid-week beef feedings and defending from Shadow. When he does howl with Shadow, his lower ranking status seems to favor howling from the security of a dense vegetation.
Malik has been shedding sheets of undercoat and has been very willing to allow staff to groom him with both brushes and bare hands. For a 13 year old wolf, he is very spry and agile, if he doesn't want to be brushed, he manages to get away. For the first time in several years, we managed to get Malik to willingly walk on the scale. As the lower ranking wolf, he's often very timid and won't allow a weight, but with some great staff and a lot of patience, we were successful in getting a current value. Here's his weight history since he was a yearling. <li>4/23/2001 Malik 86.5 11 month old <li>5/16/2005 Malik 89.5 5 yrs <li>7/7/2008 Malik 88 8 yrs, 2 mo <li>4/21/2009 Malik Not able to weigh 9 yrs <li>4/29/2010 Malik 91.09 10 years <li>5/25/2011 Malik 92 11 years 2 weeks (weighed during a medical exam) <li>6/4/2013 Malik 91.7 lbs 13 years 1 month
Malik has a lot of hair. He is shedding in 1 foot long sheets and the lower branches in the enclosure are covered with white hair. Otherwise, he's been very interactive with Shadow and they frequently share the den space. He is the most reluctant wolf for basic medical care, but one of our more experienced wolf care staff managed to vaccinate him without any issues. At this age, they are no longer at risk for Parvo and the protective titers shown in their blood work show that they have good protection, but we do vaccinate for rabies on an annual basis.
I'm sure I've covered this before, but it's worth mentioning again. Food possession in wolves is not necessarily tied to rank order. In the Retired Pack, Shadow is clearly dominant by the chin rests, tail postures, stance and direct eye contact that is displayed towards Malik. But, if there's food, Malik is far more active in guarding and food threat behavior. This occurred earlier in the week when we were feeding some chickens. Malik attempts to take all of them and keep Shadow away. I did have to do a stand over some chickens to allow Shadow time to gain possession. For some reason, Shadow doesn't assert himself over food and Malik takes advantage of this. I normally don't interfere with rank or feeding issues, but when there's smaller quantities, it's my job to make sure they get enough.
The logs will all be the same this week. The weather creates added challenges to the daily job of caring for wolves and we've had a variety of weather. The warm spell that melted a significant amount of snow led to standing water which later froze when colder temperatures returned. This week's Youtube video features some great demonstration of Aidan doing a stiff leg jump to crack the ice. Boltz is a bit hesitant on the ice since he fell through the ice into about 2 feet of water (thanks to Denali's hefty body size on the ice). Luna's displaying less stiffness as the temperatures warm and she's been spending a lot of time digging. This week is another special week as Grizzer turns 9 years old on May 5th and Shadow and Malik are 13 years old on May 8th.
We have had a tough week in retirement. Late last week we identified some diarrhea issues, initially with Malik, but then a few days later with Shadow. Since it was only these two individuals that seemed to be affected, we ruled out a food issue. Grizzer gets the same food resources and he had no issues. A consultation with the veterinarians revealed that there was a viral gastrointestinal bug going around the dog community and it appears that Shadow and Malik have a case of the crud. With viral infections, there isn't much of a treatment and it has typically be lasting 6- 7 days. We treated their symptoms with some anti-diarrhea medication, made sure they were hydrated and offered food whenever they started to show interest. Malik improved by the 6th day and ate ~ 10 lbs of chicken.
The logs will be the same this week. We had snow on Monday that required a lot of effort to gain access to all the gates, water containers and dens. Thanks to Danielle and Linda for helping in that Monday morning check. We also had to redistribute straw beds for all the enclosures, a task that can only be appreciated during the spring Working for Wolves program when we have to remove all that straw. We are very pleased that Shadow and Malik are back to their usual invite chase behaviors and both have fully recovered from the gastrointestinal virus that occurred a few weeks ago. Grizzer is more social than ever and staff continue to have relaxing checks on a daily basis. Most of the extreme sub-zero weather is behind us and even if we do have a cold night, the days warm up quickly. Rank order traits are starting to emerge in the Exhibit Pack with Luna showing Denali that she will jaw spar despite his over-towering height advantage. Fortunately for Luna, Aidan watches from and pins Denali if things get a little intense. Spring fever starts kicking in for staff and wolves alike as the warm days of March seem to stimulate some strong social behavior (at least for the wolves).
We have observed some very compatible resting behavior between Malik and Shadow, with them sleeping comfortably both on top of the den and inside the den. The straw has a significant amount of depth to the layers on the den, and it might work in the wolves favor to insulate the ice for a while keeping them cool on a warm spring day. I did acquire 5 roadkill so all wolves go back to a larger carcass feeding in the next week, this will be a good stimulus for Shadow and even more things for Malik to possess.
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