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.
Someone recently asked me if I had a favorite wolf. Certainly some people may think it's hard not to think of some individuals with a greater concern because of their individual needs, but the reality is, every wolf is different and they all have some unique characteristic to make them special. So, I thought I would dedicate this week's wolf logs to those unique characteristics. Malik's characteristic is being an opportunist. Yes, all wolves are described as opportunistic predators, but Malik seems to excel. His behaviors are not just restricted to interactions with Shadow, but wolf care staff have to be on guard around Malik even though he will be 13 years old in a few months.
We haven't had a lot of extra resources to provide the retired pack with a full deer carcass in a while (don't worry, we have plenty of meat for them, just not the fun of tugging on a deer), so we decided to let them have a deer torso on Saturday night. Malik who tends to be more food dominant really seemed to enjoy this treat and the extra volume of food left enough for both wolves to satiate themselves. By Monday, they consumed the 50 lb torso including the vertebrae. There's some good video footage on Youtube this week of Malik gnawing on the vertebrae with no trouble. As a reminder ,this is the wolf that had an infected premolar removed a few years ago, even though these two will be 13 years of age in May, they have great teeth.
With the webcam on retirement, people may notice the behavioral differences between Malik and Shadow. Malik is more nervous and may be up and traveling more than Shadow. Malik may also be more food possessive and if there is a wolf howling, it's likely to be Shadow on the top of the den. Malik, as a lower ranking pack member, may be howling from behind some protective vegetation.
For a 13 year old wolf, Malik is extremely quick. He once again managed to take the sponge I use for cleaning the water containers. Of course, this has become such a repeated activity for him, just the mere view of the sponge creates some excitable behavior. We always get the sponge back, usually with a bribe of some meat. It's actually enjoyable to see 13 year old wolves get excited about something.
There isn't much to report in retirement, Malik has been guarding a beaver for the last few days, keeping Shadow from entering the lower part of the den. This doesn't seem to bother Shadow much, he has been using the smaller alternate den at night, and during the day, he is content with the perch from the top of the den. Malik, while lower ranking, is very adept at keeping his food possessions. Chasing ravens also seems to be another trait of Maliks.
In Retirement, we noticed some behaviors that make us think that Shadow’s not feeling well again. Malik is posturing, presenting a high tail and did a lunge bite towards Shadow with no response from Shadow. When Malik starts to take advantage of Shadow we know something is up. At this point, don't intervene on Shadow's behalf, past experience tells us that Shadow will work it out when he's feeling better, but we do need to get a sense of what's causing these bouts of discomfort for Shadow.
I discovered a cache in the Retired Den, not because I saw it, but because of Malik's reaction when I was putting fresh straw in the den. If he's guarding a cache, he is prone to posturing and today, grabbed my boot as I went into the den. It's always important to observe the subtle signs that can magnify into bigger problems. Fortunately, Shadow watches them too, and asserted some dominance over Malik. I don't believe Shadow was protecting my boot, I believe Shadow saw Malik in a more dominant posture and decided to nip that behavior before it became an issue.
Malik's been taking advantage of some dense vegetation to help him shed his undercoat. As the lower ranking of the two pack members, he's less tolerant of brushing from the staff, so the dense underbrush is very helpful. He's also fond of the pond and is frequently spending time in the water.
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