The logs this week will all contain the same text… Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow. A spring snowstorm dumped nearly 30 inches of snow on the Ely area on Saturday and Sunday, leaving the wolf care staff to shovel, clean gates, blow snow, clean cameras, uncover heated waterers and pick up dead branches from trees that couldn’t support the weight of the wet snow. The wolves enjoyed the snow, although a few of the branches startled Maya. It’s not unusual for a spring snowstorm, but with temperatures usually in the 40’s and 50’s they go quickly. This time, the weather forecast doesn’t predict much above 40 degrees this week, and there are a few more days of snow predicted. Enjoy the webcams; I’m sure you will see the wolves romping through the snow.
Malik has shown that the bottom-ranking wolf doesn’t necessarily stay on the bottom. If an opportunity arises to gain status, a wolf will take it. With the deep snowfall, Grizzer’s larger body size has resulted in a harder struggle to maneuver around the enclosure. We have always said Malik is a lean wolf; this body structure is now paying off. Malik has been following Grizzer, taking a few grabs when Grizzer’s stuck in a snow bank and can run faster through the limited trail systems. This will likely result in a bit of redirected aggression from Grizzer after the snow melts, but it has been an interesting behavioral study.
The following text was written by Workin’ for Wolves participants: Joanne Wessels and Debbie Puett. Malik continued with his attempt to maintain some dominance over Grizzer he gained since the winter’s snowfall. He followed Grizzer closely making him aware of his presence. Malik initiated lots of chases and playing with Maya and Grizzer.
Malik continues to take advantage of Grizzer's calming nature, and Grizzer is taking it well, submitting to Malik and ignoring some of Malik's postures. This has helped Malik relax a bit, and he is spending more time in social interaction without the anxiety he displayed this winter. He continues to show associative behavior with Shadow as his littermate and is often found lying in close proximity to Shadow.
As you may already know, the pups arrived on site at 2 am on Saturday morning, May 10th. When the temperatures warmed a bit, wolf care staff, assisted by VCC student, Kristen Flowers took the pups outside to meet the adults. Malik initially showed interest in the pups, but then, he focused on Grizzer who was a bit preoccupied with the pups. When staff brought the pups blanket in for the Exhibit Pack to investigate, all wolves but Malik sniffed the blanket. Malik tried to grab it from our hands.
This week has been a bit more challenging for Malik, as it seems to be the peak of hormonal activities in this pack. One of the issues for Malik is that he has a very intense threat display towards the other wolves when he becomes anxious. While the intent of this behavior is to warn other wolves to stay back, it sometimes has the reverse effect in that this level of anxiety appears as a weakness and can make him more vulnerable. Malik had a front paw injury on Tuesday that may have been caused by a dominance issue with Grizzer, or may have been the result of an intense chase around the enclosure in the colder weather. He was treated with an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic for a week and was much better by the 2nd day of treatment.
Malik’s been seeking more contact with the staff, a sign that he is more relaxed. He continues to have loud threat displays towards Grizzer, but as the weather warms and Grizzer slows down a bit, Malik has actually started using the technique we term “shadowing on Grizzer. This is where one wolf follows another to intimidate them. Grizzer uses it on Malik a lot. Malik is also very active in doing a foreleg stab at Grizzer when Shadow has Grizzer pinned to the ground. This is a common behavior of a wolf that is not as comfortable with approaching and physically grabbing but, wants to get a dominant stab at a vulnerable wolf, especially one higher ranking. We’ve been attempting to get this on film to include in the ethogram.
Malik continues to be nervous about getting all 4 feet on the metal scale, but by the look and feel of his body, he has been benefiting from Shadow's "all you can eat buffets". Malik and Shadow willingly share the den, and show no issue of avoidance. To distinguish them on video is difficult, but if you get a close up view, Malik has more almond shape eyes, while Shadow has more roundish eyes. If there is a wolf on top of the den while another wolf is in the den, it is likely to be Malik on top, although, we have many hours of surveillance video with them both on top of the den. Regardless, they like the space and are both resting as a retired wolf should.
Malik has mastered the art of stealing caches. As Shadow regains weight, and is offered food on a daily basis, he doesn't always need it, so he caches. Malik waits until Shadow is about 5 feet away, then digs it up and eats it before Shadow approaches. This has resulted in more weight gain for Malik, which isn't bad as winter approaches. How much weight gain? We don't know, Malik refuses to put all 4 feet on the scale. So far, we have not overcome is cautious behavior towards the scale, but by the looks of his mid-section, he's developed a bit more roundish figure.
Malik appears to have a tooth abscess, which is being treated with antibiotics. With a 10-year old wolf, their immune systems are a bit weaker, and while we avoid overusing antibiotics, we are very cautious with gum infections. He has no problem eating, and is still active, but we don't take chances with the retired wolves. Malik isn't the best patient, staff have to use much patience, and some interesting handling procedures to even get a close inspection or cleaning of the wound.
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