Malik is really focused on the raven activity. Ravens are very active due to the colder weather and the pattern of scavenging on food within the enclosure. Of course, since it's gotten colder, there's not much food lying around that the wolves haven't eaten. Malik does seem to fair the colder weather better than Shadow. While Shadow is very stiff, Malik is very spry for a wolf nearing 12 years of age.
Malik did howl to the dogs, but he wasn't as territorial as Shadow. He was far more cautious, more likely due to the fact that when Shadow gets territorial, Shadow gets dominant. On another note, we did hear from the facility that provided Shadow and Malik to the Exhibit. Shadow and Malik's mother recently passed away at the age of 21. So, when we view retirement as the waning years, with this genetic history, we might just be in a mid-life stage for the arctics. One other interesting even this week, when staff did an enclosure check around the retired pack, there were deer tracks right next to their outer perimeter fence. That's probably a bit frustrating considering the deer usually arrive in a wheelbarrow.
Malik was gnawing on the remainder of their last deer carcass fed a week ago. He continues to use the fresh straw as a caching site, and frequently carries the vertebrae throughout the enclosure. The benefit of feeding carcasses is that the time spent chewing on bones helps reduce tartar build up. We are starting to get some warm days, and with 12 year old bones, the arctics typically soak up the warmth of the sun on the top of the den.
The logs will all be the same this week. It has been an extremely busy week for the wolf curator between the job at the college and the Center. Wolf care is still done, but all other activities such as email, logs and reports are on the back burner. We had a relatively calm week except the return of the sled dogs created some stress for Shadow. He did some pacing, and in the warmer than average days, he got a bit overheated. He eventually settled down by mid-morning, and was fine the next day. This is the last trip for the dogs, and they will be moving back to their home turf by Wednesday. Aidan was less anxious and a bit more dominant, Denali got very playful, Grizzer howled, Malik ignored everything and Shadow paced. We are in the process of finalizing the Pup Care teams, and will be making decisions and sending notifications by the first week of March. We should return to a full set of logs next week.
Malik is an opportunist. Whether it be a raven, his packmate or a wolf care staff member that doesn't have a clear possession of an object, Malik will take any opportunity given. This best describes the pond filling event. It takes about 2 hours to fill the pond in retirement and while it would be nice to get some other work done, every time I went into the lab, I noticed the surveillance camera showed a new location of the water hose. I finally decided to just take a break on the bench, and show some guarding behavior over the hose, this seemed to work.
Malik managed to take a glove through the fence from one of the wolf care yesterday. This is why the number one protocol of working around wolves is never have put your fingers through the fence. The glove was not on a hand, but being held in order to deliver Malik a treat. He chose the glove instead. Other than testing the wolf care staff, Malik has had a good week. The cooler weather did create a skim of slush on their pond, but the forecast calls for 60 degree tomorrow. Shadow and Malik have been sharing the den on a regular basis during this cooler weather.
Malik doesn't have much to report this week. The surveillance camera identified some interesting raven interactions, and a middle of the night interaction that included a chin rest, face-off, whirl and invite chase. These two seem to be more active at night than in previous months, but the sled dog influence seemed to increase Shadow's patrolling of the enclosure. Malik didn't seem to respond in the same way, so when the camera picked up Shadow on the move, it usually captured Malik sleeping.
Malik is showing a new side to wolf care staff this summer. We've always struggled with brushing and fly ointment with the arctics, possibly because of their higher status, possibly because they were a bit older than the other wolves when wolf care staff met them, possibly because this subspecies has a genetic disposition to adverse environmental conditions, regardless, basic care was a struggle. In today's wolf check, not only did Malik get a full coat brushing, but he also successfully achieved two applications of fly ointment. The coats of the arctics are tremendously soft and glossy, a clear indication of good health and probably a natural selection for a harsher winter environment in the genetics of their lineage.
In this week's photo, you can see Malik in a submissive posture to Grizzer. The wolves had just been given frozen fish filets as a treat, and Malik attempted to take one from Grizzer, who promptly proceeded to defend his. In this photo, you can see that Malik is averting his gaze from Malik with his ears back. This is one of the ways that, through body language, wolves show their submission or intimidation.
Even though the wolves have two heated waters with fresh clean water available at all times, they still prefer to drink from the puddles created by spring snow melt, as Malik’s video demonstrates. Malik was a dominant figure on last week’s deer carcass, actually using a threat display to drive Grizzer off the carcass. Rank order doesn’t necessarily dictate who eats first. Wolves have a possession rule, if you get to the carcass first and possess it; you can defend it no matter what your rank. Malik’s anxious growling at the other pack members when he is being followed has subsided, as the spring nurturing hormones of prolactin increase, Malik’s willingness to initiate play behavior is likely to increase as well.
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