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Wolfkeeper Notes
September 20, 2007


The Three Peas in a Pod...and We are down to Four

Image of Ulie
Well, as I had hoped, the three females are getting along great since the males have been moved out of the exhibit on the Northern Trail.

About a month ago, we caught up the four male wolves out of the exhibit and moved them down to the Large Animal Holding area (see July note) to see how the females would do on their own. We also did the annual exams on all of the wolves at the time of the move. I am happy to report that all of the wolves are in excellent health. The females have even gained a few pounds since they arrived almost a year ago, and have returned to their old ways before the introduction.

Within minutes of returning the females to the exhibit after their exam, the three were found to be together constantly. There was sniffing by all to one another, but also a lot of social greeting and "friendly" or affiliative/non-threatening behavior. The two females that had been kept separate from the others seemed to be concerned about the return of the males (Where did they go? They were here just a few minutes ago?). Of course, I am putting their behavior into human terms, but they were always looking for something to show up-even some howling went on with the group (and a return howl by the males nearly a half mile away!). The two seemed to be a little nervous and on edge for the first couple of days-I attributed it to trying to figure out when the males might return. There was never a problem with the three of them interacting together though. They were found resting within 20 feet of one another by the end of the day and continued to be getting along just fine. Success! Now, it is just a matter of time before I find out when they will be leaving for their new home in Forest Lake, MN.

Since the three females were getting along so well, we decided to do another move. This time is was to switch the males and females on site. Since the females won't be leaving for awhile, we thought it would be better for the males to move back to the exhibit and put the females down at Large Animal Holding. This will allow a smaller number of animals to be in the smaller area, while the four males can return to the larger exhibit.

Also, as part of the meeting in July, the zoo has been asked to see what the hormone levels might be for the breeding season in 2008 in our males. We will be working with a reproductive expert from the St. Louis zoo to collect samples from the males in February and see how they compare with other samples before they were given the implant that was used to prevent breeding. This type of work is very important to find ways to prevent breeding when zoos need to do so, but still make sure they can breed again in the future. Some forms of "birth control" works well with hoofstock but not very well in other animals. Some forms have been found to be unsafe for long term use in wildlife, but fine in some domestic species. We are excited to help out the Mexican gray wolf with this type of work, which may also help wolves in the wild in the future.

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