Shadow and Malik are starting to interact more, even though sleeping is the dominant activity of retired wolves. When the main pack starts a chase, Malik is very excited and runs the fence line in high tail. In contrast, Shadow is more watchful, but doesn't engage in the chase behavior. This may be related to the status of the two individuals when they were Exhibit Pack members, Malik, as lower ranking, was often being Chased, whereas Shadow, dominant wolf, was watchful of the pack.
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.
Malik is the most tolerant of activity in and around the enclosure and the presence of visitors. He took the weekend in stride with very little stress or action against Shadow, when Shadow was feeling most vulnerable. Having a wide variety of personalities in the pack probably has a good survival influence in the wild.
Malik is doing well, and showing more signs of acceptance of the male rank order. In this week’s video, he is shown following Shadow up the hill in a relaxed body posture. He was also observed sleeping with Shadow on several different occasions.
In the interest of saving time, all wolf logs will be the same today. Most of the wolf care staff time is spent attempting to keep the wolves cool during an unusually warm stretch of weather. The temperatures over the Memorial Day weekend soared to 90 degrees with high humidity. This is problematic weather for wolves that have not completed shedding, and who's primary method of cooling is through panting. Wolves pant to evaporate heat from their system, when the humidity is high, little evaporation occurs. This is why wolves in the wild are commonly termed nocturnal animals, meaning they are active mainly at night. Here at the Center, sprinkler hoses were installed to keep the temperatures cooler. In the retired enclosure, modifcations to the hose installation were made, when MacKenzie became anxious about the hose over her head. Her vision is declining, and the hose over her head must have been too much. The hose was re-installed to follow the north fence line, which will also spread a nice layer of water over the newly planted vines. To add another summer task, biting flies hatched over the weekend, requiring the first application of fly ointment. All wolves were treated, except of course, Shadow, who heads for the hills when fly ointment appears. The arctics were started on a dose of brewer's yeast with garlic in hopes of providing some natural repellent. This gift of garlic as well as a long list of other treats and equipment was generously donated by Miss Susan Sweeney's Biology I class – period 2+3; from Pennsylvania…
Malik has certainly increased his social interactions since Shadow's retirement. This includes interacting on the den site with Shadow, but also more tolerance for staff that used to intimidate him. One benefit of retirement is the fact that a wolf can sleep all day long with no programming obligations, and Malik and Shadow are both showing a tendency to get long rest periods during the day. The only disturbance they have is when the temperatures increase and staff turn on a misting hose over their enclosure. Both wolves seem to enjoy standing in the mist and cooling off. But, don't assume 10-year old wolves are beyond trouble. Between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, one of the retired wolves (we assume Malik, only because he has a history of hose biting), managed to get the sprinkler hose, and shredded the hose into several parts. A new hose was installed on Monday, with some restraints to keep it out of reach.
For those of you concerned that Malik is the lower ranking pack member again, his actions in the last week should reassure you that Malik is managing well. First and foremost, wolves are social, and the best management scenario is for wolves to live in a social situation. Malik has always been the more subordinate since Shadow and Malik were pups, but with Shadow still adapting, Malik has had an opportunity to gain a few things. One issue is food possession, the Youtube video this week shows Shadow and Malik feeding on the carcass, and Malik has no problem guarding food. Actually, in one part of the clip, Shadow waits by the carcass while Malik feeds. The other notable event this week relates to the claiming of resting places. While the webcam shows they have no problem sharing den space, Shadow did approach the smaller den rock and entered it. Malik, who hasn't even approached that den in 7 months, watched Shadow enter, came over, pushed Shadow out, and now is sleeping in this den on a daily basis. His photo shows that he is quite comfortable in this space.
The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future.