Malik has been displaying some very juvenile behavior lately, which would be fine if he was a juvenile, but he is approaching 13 years of age. His juvenile behavior relates to his tendency to take possessions from the staff's head, pockets, hands and hair. His latest obsession is any staff member wearing a hair band; unfortunately while it's still attached to human hair. I experienced this first hand yesterday and while allowing Malik to floss with my hair may have been exciting for him, it's not a habit I want for wolf care. This experience is just a reminder that wolves are opportunistic and no matter what the age, don't become complacent.
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.
Speaking of wolves showing their age, Malik and Shadow are NOT acting like 12-year olds. Their mobility and jumping capability is incredible, and when they get excited, they can still spring in the air like 2-year olds. Of course, it helps that they rest 10 – 12 hours in between these springing greetings, but we are not experiencing the aging process like we did with our previous retired wolves. Malik continues to be the guarding of all things food in retirement as well as the likely wolf to possess any unattended items.
At some point, humans should have the capacity to learn and retain information. Well, I proved that theory wrong today. For the 5th time this summer, Malik managed to steal the sponge from my hands when I was cleaning their water container. Guard your possession or lose it is the lesson. I guess wolves are better adapted to learned behavior than curators.
The arctics have been spending a lot of time sleeping on the den together. This may be out of necessity rather than brotherly bonding, the snow is deep with a lot of slush and standing water making the den the few high and dry spots in the enclosure.
The focus on the pups has had an impact on the Retired Pack. We certainly don't spend as much time with them as we did prior to the pups. When this happens, we usually see an increase in Malik taking things from staff. This past week was a great example as he took a bag of wood chips, brush, coat and feeding bowl. Of course this is my fault as I left all of these items unattended for a split second. Malik seems to enjoy the focus of our efforts to retrieve the items. We should be back to normal with the pups transitioning into the Exhibit. We continue to use sprinkler hoses on the Retired Pack and this week's photo of Malik shows him soaking wet, but cool on an 85 degree day.
The logs will be all the same for this week. We did some concrete work in the Exhibit Pack on Wednesday which took precedence over all filming. The back of the den site in the Exhibit Pack had some old logs as a cover to prevent snow or rain from getting into the den. These logs were starting to rot and with Luna still being vulnerable and extremely active near the den, we decided to concrete a 3 foot by 6 foot overhang at the back of the den site. You may have noticed the densite webcam showing the fencing used to keep the wolves out. They were extremely good about the fencing and other than Denali on circling the fence on the first night, they didn’t dig or push on the fence. This allowed the concrete to dry thoroughly before the form and fence were removed on Friday. Grizzer, Shadow and Malik have had a quiet week and we will have more to report next week.
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