Shadow continues to be the focus of our efforts, taking time during each day to hand feed him a few pounds of meat in between the larger feedings. He is a very delicate eater, gently taking food from our hands, while Malik will grab anything and everything offered. We are probably feeding Malik more than he needs, but winter is coming, and his extra reserves will be put to use. Even though Shadow is not as aggressive when feeding, he does remain active and extremely social with the wolf care staff, usually indicating that he's feeling fine. Thanks to our Retired Wolf Supporters, Judy Adler, Sharon Hibbard and Sharon Siebert for the kind donation of resources to purchase beef and chicken. Your recent donations purchased a case of beef and chicken, which is about a 2 week supply. Thanks from the Retired wolves and the staff that care for them.
As the Youtube video revealed, Shadow had a very easy transition into retirement, but social bonds are strong, and he continues to show a lot of howling to the pack. The packs response varies, sometimes rallying, other times ignoring him. In the months prior to Shadow's retirement, Shadow was very intense with staff, growling at individuals and keeping several people on the outside of the enclosure. Since his retirement, Shadow is a complete opposite, showing very strong social engagement towards all staff that enter the Retired Enclosure. We are pleased with the relationship between Shadow and Malik, sharing den space is a good sign of social compatibility.
We are extremely pleased with Shadow's transition. He had one rough day on the 4th of July, one week post retirement. The issues were a combination of things. The heat and humidty were unbearable by Ely standards (temps nearing 90 degrees with high humidity), the flies started to emerge, Shadow hadn't started shedding and the Curator took a day off (who up until that point had been with him every day). Wolf care staff member Jen Westlund was called in and helped calm the situation. The following week, after displaying some agitation, Shadow rubbed himself up against the fence next to a running garden hose. Staff was able to completely douse Shadow, encouraging the start of the shedding process. Once Shadow started shedding, his undercoat came off by the bucket load. We noticed an immediate response in calmness, and an increase in resting behavior. Staff also installed sprinkler hoses on both enclosures, and now allow water to mist several times a day. The wolves will walk under the mist, fully wetting their coats.
Shadow's been extremely social in retirement, and we have not recorded any bark howling or tucked tail response with activity in the wolf yard or actions in the main enclosure. This was not the case when he was the dominant male in the Exhibit Pack, where he displayed real leadership by threat displaying towards anything that was not familiar and bark howling as a warning to strangers. In retirement, Malik and Shadow co-exist, with very little show of dominance with the exception of Malik's possessiveness over food. We are concerned about Shadow's weight. While it is common for wolves to lose weight in the summer, Shadow's weight has dropped considerably since April. On April 29, 2010, Shadow weighed 87 lbs. The ~ 72 lb weight today is a significant concern, and certainly reinforces the decision to retire him from the stresses of Exhibit life and gain the benefits of limited competition and unlimited resources in retirement. We will implement a feeding regime to increase his weight, but we must also consider the possibility that there are underlying physical conditions to monitor. The good thing is, behaviorally and physically, he is very active, alert and calm, getting a lot of rest in the den.
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