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Wolfkeeper Notes
January 7th, 2007

Things are getting better

Last time I wrote, we had just introduced the three females from Missouri to our four male wolves. Things took a while to settle down-we kept the viewing area closed for two weeks, and then slowly opened it up to the public with increased access by the public to the windows. The two females spent the majority of their day in the eastern corner of the exhibit, and over weeks would slowly range out of that corner and venture into the center of the exhibit. Certain males appear to take more of an "interest" in dominating them, so whenever the females would encounter either the 2nd or 3rd ranked male, they would run with their tail tucked back to the corner.

However, in the past week, we have noticed a dramatic improvement in the behavior of the two subordinate females. They are branching out into the exhibit more and more every day. When they do advance into the western corner of the enclosure, they males very rarely even take notice of their movements—a dramatic improvement since their November 10th introduction. We have also noted that when the males do advance towards these two females, they are more curious than aggressive, and the two females will actually be able to chase the male way or they try and engage them in play behavior.

One of the most recent improvements was noted over a carcass. Since the introductions took place, staff has minimized any and all enrichment offerings to the pack. The last thing we wanted to do was to increase the likelihood of aggression over a novel food item. However, just today staff observed the youngest male kill a crow that got too close to the food dish. He brought the crow to the other males and single female and the group did a group rally with lots of howling and social greetings. The two other females slowly approached the group with the crow and stood observing them from about 20 feet away. There was NO aggression by anyone towards either female and the two females were fairly comfortable in the situation (no tail tucked, ears back)—just very alert in the entire group. The dominant male then picked up the crow and walked right by the darkest female without either animal moving out of the way or showing extreme fear. By human standards, this was a HUGE improvement in tolerance of the group of 5 towards the two females. We are hopeful that this tolerance will continue and that the group of 7 will be more cohesive in the near future-for now though, we have no complaints.

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