Fortunately, for staff and wolves, Maya is calmer. Her photo this week shows her in some pair bonding behavior with Shadow, she’s back to strong social behavior rather than knocking Shadow out of the way so she can get to Aidan. Shadow’s more content and if you say the postings of his facial expressions in the last few months, you will see the change as well. There’s a saying in wolf care, if the dominant female isn’t happy, nobody’s happy… (Of course, happy is not a wolf behavior that we can measure)
The following text was written by Workin' for Wolves participant: Awen Briem. Maya continues to display the most predatory behavior of the wolves in the ambassador pack. On Saturday while volunteers cleaned the retired pack enclosure, Lakota and MacKenzie were moved into the holding pen and given venison ribs. They left the ribs in the holding pen when they moved back to the retired enclosure. At the weekly feeding that night the ambassador pack was moved into the holding pen where Shadow discovered the ribs; Maya took one from Shadow. It is of note that Wolf Care Staff began using a new high definition video camera and monopod on Saturday. Wolves are acutely aware of unfamiliar items. While the ambassador pack is familiar with staff cameras, this particular equipment was new to them and their behavior displayed intimidation. Of the ambassador pack Maya seemed most intimidated by the new items.
Maya as the sole female, demonstrates all the classic dominant female traits. One that is common on the Exhibit is her marking behavior, or Modified Raised Leg Urination or MRLU. In the wild, this behavior can be observed with a dominant pair of wolves marking their territory. A dominant male will RLU, with the female marking below the male with a MRLU. If a lone wolf enters the edge of the territory, the paired scent mark of both male and female mean that the territory is occupied. In captivity, there isn’t as much purpose to marking territory, but Maya marks food caches, and food in general.
Maya is very interested in the pups and whines with intensity when they are in view. The pups are responding to her the most, with Red Paw doing a full tail wag when he's next to the fence. Maya continues to show pair bonding behavior with Shadow, as her photo shows her face to face greeting. Both Shadow and Maya are sleeping near the lab door, and are quick to respond to any distress calls from the pups.
Maya’s favorite winter activity in the last week seems to be lying on top of the snow pile and sliding down it like an otter. This large snow pile in front of the exhibit viewing area is the result of snow removal from the roof. The snow was then snowblown away from the building so the wolves would not have access to the roof. This has been one of the best enclosure enrichments this winter and has provided the wolves a high place to perch. It is not uncommon to find Maya laying on top of the snow pile and watching or stalking her packmates from atop the hill.
You may have noticed that we are experiencing some technical difficulty with the webcams. We hope to have them repaired this week. We appreciate your patience and support for the Ambassador wolves at the Center. The Nanny Application deadline has passed. Now we will begin to coordinate teams and make selections. We plan to have the award letters mailed by February 15th. The wolves are doing well, and have fared the recent cold snap without issues.
Maya has been very social with Shadow and Grizzer, even though the images you see in Grizzer’s log might indicate differently. This is a good time of year for the pack to interact, agreed, sometimes it’s tense, but there’s always action in the pack. It will be interesting to see how Maya interacts with the newest pack members, the pups we will be raising in 2008. She takes her role as dominant female very intensely, and she will likely take on a maternal role as well. We have data to support Shadow’s behavior as a paternal figure in a social pack. The Nanny Application deadline has passed, and Assistant Wolf Curator, Donna Prichard and I are meeting to organize teams. We will have the award letters mailed by February, 15th. The Behavioral Observation team has a few positions remaining, so, you will continue to see this program advertised
As we've stated in other logs, this is the breeding season for wolves. In our exhibit, we spay and neuter the pack to avoid breeding and to reduce aggression. Maya doesn't have another female to dominante, so her behaviors are more on the social side. One characteristic of wolves is to have strong associative behaviors between the dominant pair, in the Exhibit Pack, this is Maya and Shadow. In this week's image, you will see some of that pair bonding behavior as Maya greets Shadow with a full face lick. Maya also controls most of the food in the enclosure, as shown in her video.
Without another female, Maya is somewhat left out of the dominant rank order displays. But, as previous videos have shown, she still wrestles with her litter mate, and shows bonding behavior to Shadow. It will be interesting to see how her behavior changes once the new pups arrive. She has intense social behavior, and we see her as being a strong influence with the pup introduction. I would also like to make a note to the Nannies selected for this year’s pups. We are still juggling teams, and once the teams are set, we will send out a briefing packet to each team member (probably by email), so teams can have some opportunity to converse prior to arrival and possibly offer to carpool to Ely.
When we say that we feed the wolves once a week on their natural pattern of feast and famine consuming, that doesn’t mean they only eat on Saturday night’s “What’s for Dinner program. Other behavioral issues that come from large carcass consumption is caching and visiting caches the many days following a feeding. While some of the larger carcasses such as beaver, are not easy to bury, the wolves due stash them and come back to them. The pack is often observed feeding mid-week, and wolves like Maya, are very keen on caches within the enclosure. Maya marks caches and is very defensive of them, and is more likely to carry them around the enclosure than any other wolf. As a reminder, the Nanny and Behavioral Team applications are on the website under the Programs tab… the deadline is February 1st.
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