The Center is home for eleven wolves that live in three different packs. The wolves were born in captivity and are unable to live in the wild. The facilities where they were born did not have room to keep them and the GWDC was able to provide them a home. Here, the wolves give visitors an up-close look at their normally secretive lives. The wolves eat, play, reinforce their dominance hierarchy and howl right in front of the viewing areas.
Features such as tall grass, logs, trees and a pond with a waterfall give the wolves a very comfortable and natural home. The keepers provide plenty of stimulation by hiding bones or sprinkling spices and other unusual scents. Live trout are added to the pond during the summer. A natural diet of elk and deer meat, hides and bones is provided by local hunters and meat processors.
River Valley Wolves.
Wolves Akela, Kootenai, Joseph and Summit were moved into the new River Valley Wolf Habitat and immediately made themselves at home. This pack of young wolves can be observed playing unabated games of chase throughout their new home, as well as interacting with the Center’s older wolf pack through the windows of the Naturalist Cabin by howling back and forth.
The River Valley Wolf pack, one female and three males, arrived as pups to the Center. They were born in a captive born facility. After the GWDC received the pups, they were kept off-display while their new habitat was being constructed.
Akela – was named after the leader of the wolf pack in the story “Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. She has a beautiful black coat with gorgeous amber eyes. Akela is a bold and tenacious wolf and is already the leader of her pack.
Joseph – displays shy and non-threatening tendencies and has been named after Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Native American Tribe. He is a gorgeous cream-colored wolf with brown eyes and is the Omega of the pack.
Kootenai – was named after the Kootenai National Forest in Montana and a Native American Tribe in Idaho. He is now the Alpha Male of the pack and a very playful personality. Kootenai has a very broad head, long nose and a fluffy grey coat.
Summit – was the smallest of the new pups to arrive at the Center. He was named Summit after the top of a mountain. Summit is playful as well and can be seen running around the habitat many times during the day. He is a striking wolf with unusual black markings on his face, making him look as though he is wearing a mask.
High Country Wolves
In 2006, 15-day-old brothers McKinley and Leopold arrived at the Center forming the nucleus of the growing High Country Wolf Pack. McKinley and Leopold moved into their display habitat on April 15, 2009.
McKinley, the larger of the two, was named after Mount McKinley in Alaska. He is very black in color, has a long narrow face and continues to tower over every other wolf at the Center weighing close to 120 pounds.
Leopold is named after conservationist Aldo Leopold who was one of the first people to suggest that wolves should be reintroduced to Yellowstone. Leopold has always been a little smaller than his brother McKinley, but can show a more aggressive side at times. Leopold has a broad face and is very dark in color with unique brown markings.
In the summer of 2009, a young pair of wolves was introduced to McKinley and Leopold. Born on May 2, 2009, Adara and Takoda arrived at the Center when they were four-weeks old and have now joined the High Country Wolf pack. The pack of four can be observed interacting as they developed a strong social bond.
Adara was named for one of the brightest stars in the sky and because she is the only female, will become the Alpha Female of this pack. She is light in color and has three distinct dots on either side of her nose.
Takoda was named after the Sioux meaning “friend to everyone”. Takoda has boundless energy and explores his new surroundings throughout the day. He has a darker coat then his sister with a healthy appetite.
All four wolves have adjusted well and can be heard howling with the other resident wolves. Visitors have been delighted to learn about and appreciate different aspects of wolf behavior by observing this pack through the windows of the Naturalist Cabin.
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