I received Shadow’s necropsy report today. Similar to Malik, he had a ruptured mass that led to some internal bleeding and without euthanasia, he would have likely succumb to blood loss. Differing from Malik, Shadow’s mass was cancerous and had spread from his kidney to his lungs. The cancer is called a Hemangiosarcoma, known for rapid growth, with limited clinical signs until the tumor has become very large and spreads between organs.
Shadow had his favorites and Jen was one of the most important wolf care staff in the lives of the arctics, for both Shadow and Malik.
Shadow was always exuberant in his greetings… Curator, Lori Schmidt on the left and long-time volunteer, Sherry Jokinen on the right.
After 14 years, the memories are plentiful and are often accompanied by a smile; but to honor, where do we start? Because we study behavior, we will use the behavioral terms that most represent Shadow.
- Direct Eye Stare and Avert Gaze: Shadow could control anyone with just one look and knew when to avoid engaging in some juvenile or lower pack member confrontations.
- Greeting: There has been no other wolf in the history of the Center’s operation that could clean a face better than Shadow’s daily greetings (even if they included a low throated growl)
- Invite Chase: Pushing up from a playbow into a full run away from another wolf inviting them to chase… even displaying this behavior in retirement where the chase was diminished but the playbow was alive and well
- Chin Rest: Who could forget the power of one chin on another wolf’s back… wolf care staff borrowed this technique from Shadow and use it to control young pups.. a hand on top of the muzzle, neck or back
- Parallel Gate: He was the master at pair bonding and the image of Maya and Shadow will forever be in my mind
- Howls: Who could forget the pack leader howls and the bark howls that told us when enough was enough
There are so many more memories that remind us how honored we are to work with these complex, social predators… Shadow, you trusted our team. Every time you placed your head on our shoulder or gently rested your head against our head, it reinforced that trust and our commitment to provide our wolves with the best care possible. Our greatest respect and heartfelt appreciation Shadow.. RIP Our Dear Friend…
From the Ely Wolf Care Staff
Shadow was euthanized on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 after staff documented a significant physical decline in his overall condition, most likely age-related. While details of the necropsy report may be weeks away, the surveillance camera and video review of his activity in weeks and days before his decline revealed an aging body, but a strong alert mind.
Shadow’s loss so close to Malik’s was hard, but we know, that 14 years of age is a good run and both of these boys had a few good runs in their life. As I review the photos on facebook and images I used for the tribute, there were many good times. Shadow was an incredible personality, a strong pack leader that held the Exhibit Pack together for 8 years and we were fortunate to have known him. Certainly Shadow began to show his age as he led the Exhibit Pack, but the few months we have witnessed a notable change. As Wolf Care Staff, we always want to be responsive to that moment when pain and discomfort is too much to bear. We are legally bound to this management by USDA permits and ethically bound to this management when we bond with socialized wolves. We owe it to the wolves who have served as ambassadors, “Teaching the World about Wolves”. There are countless visitors that witnessed Shadow displaying the intricacies of wolf behavior and Shadow has made a lasting impression.
The thoughts, kind words and stories are welcome and shared by the wolf care staff. So, let’s welcome, yet again, another wolf to the “Gone but Not Forgotten Pack” and rest assured, our staff will never forget Shadow.
Last week, we attempted to reunite Grizzer and Shadow. Initially Grizzer rolled over a the fence, but he immediately became food possessive creating some tension and more physical contact than we wanted for Shadow. So, after a 10 minute visit, Grizzer was escorted back into his side of retirement and Shadow got to do some posturing through the fence. Shadow seemed content with that and since the visit, he is more alert, more engaging and his appetite has improved dramatically. Short controlled visits from Grizzer may be good stimulus, but we also see Shadow’s mood improving when Grizzer goes back to his side. At 14, we don’t know how much longer we will have the pleasure of working with Shadow, but our management will be based on his needs and any socialization will need to in his best interest. To see the video of this interaction, check out the Center’s Youtube channel or go to Meet Our Wolves – Video
We have Shadow’s pond filled and he is starting to shed, but the summer season is usually the hardest on the wolves. We are seeing some very strong signs of social interaction between Shadow and Grizzer through the fence and Grizzer’s high tail response towards the retirement enclosure has diminished. These changes have prompted discussion about bringing Grizzer and Shadow together . We are very mindful of the 4 year age difference options. We also know, without social stimulus, older animals can become so sedentary that they compromise themselves physically. We don’t know what is the best course of action until we see the interactions, but wolf care staff are committed to our retired wolves and will do what we can to ensure both physical and psychological well-being of all pack members.
One thing we know about wolves that have been through some loss of a packmate is that they can have some impacts on their behaviors. Whether people term it sadness, sense of loss or separation anxiety, we know there are differences. In the past month, we have reported that Shadow had been howling more and eating less. Well, these trends have switched. Shadow is howling less and he’s eating just about everything that we feed him. This is a good sign, especially for an older wolf who might experience some natural muscular decline. Shadow’s physical structure feels good and when we watch him jump up on the den, we know he has mobility. We are certainly discussing the options of rejoining Shadow with Grizzer, but we still have a lot of ice under the straw and will not make any changes until the Working for Wolves crew can help remove these hazards (straw insulates ice, so when the crew moves the straw.. the ice will go).
Shadow will be 14 years old on May 8, and as he ages his voice is somewhat quieter in range. Nonetheless when Shadow howls, it calls the attention of all the other wolves who howl in response.
We always know when a wolf is improving their physical and mental condition when they return to a healthy appetite and either carry or cache food. The fact that Shadow is showing all three signs gives us a positive response on his condition. Now, if I could only improve the condition of his camera. There seems to be a seal issue allowing moisture to enter the internal lens on these warm days. It is on my list of things to do and hope to get that improved soon. Thanks to a generous donation to the Wolf Care Fund, the wolves all had Turkey or Chicken for Easter dinner.
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.