The winter season
is well upon us and Nira is enjoying every moment. His black coat
is thick and shiny, with touches of white mixed throughout. On 2-26-00
he weighed 105 lb. He makes a very impressive alpha wolf, although
size is not the only component in an alpha wolf. We have given him
the nickname "The King". He looks in very good health
and all of his vaccinations are current and up to date. Nira has
remained the wolf that is easiest to read and most social to humans.
In August 1999, we saw the arrival of Ingo. During the past few
months, Ingo enjoyed all the perks of being a "super puppy".
Nira would let Ingo get away with many things; those that if Ingo
were an adult, would have probably caused Nira to react differently.
Nira would permit Ingo to feed along side him, giving him first
dibs at the best food and constantly watching out for his safety.
Now that Ingo is almost a year old, things have changed. Nira has
begun to assert his dominance over Ingo, reminding the younger one
who is boss. He seems to have tired of Ingo's puppy shenanigans.
There have been several displays with grumbling, growling and agonistic
puckering. They have all ended with Ingo in a very submissive position,
although at times, obnoxiously submissive. Nira continues to be
the alpha male of the pack with no question. On 12-13-00 we observed
Ingo favoring one of his front paws. Both Nira and Keeley picked
up on this and began to harass Ingo. We eventually left Nira and
Ingo together in the main enclosure and put Keeley in the holding
pen overnight. Nira did not harass Ingo any further that night.
The Christmas season arrived with gifts for the wolves. Ruetenik
Christmas Tree Farm generously donated leftover trees. We took these
into the enclosure and hid the treats that the volunteers had brought
out among the branches. Nira enjoyed poking his nose among the branches,
trying to get as many biscuits as possible. On Christmas day each
wolf received a 2-½ pound roast, pig ears and various "canine
treats". Being the alpha, Nira is almost always the first to
eat. He also eats the longest of all the wolves. Up until one week
ago, he would let Ingo eat with him, making Keeley wait. Now Ingo
is the last to eat. When it comes to eating, Nira doesn't fool around.
He even decided to give us a hand one-day at feeding time. We had
the carcass of a stillborn calf that we were bringing into the enclosure.
We had moved the calf inside and we were proceeding to move it further
into the enclosure. Nira walked over, grabbed a hold of the head
and dragged it the rest of the way in without a peep, growl or snarl.
Nira has never food guarded against humans. He seems quit comfortable
allowing us to be within a few feet of him eating, but should Keeley
or more so Ingo approach, we are the awestruck participants of the
age-old rituals that have governed pack structure for eons. Agonistic
puckering, raised hackles and growling are sure to send Ingo to
the other side of the enclosure. The breeding season has came and
gone and it has proved to be very interesting. Nira made sure that
Ingo realized who was boss. Nira had been very solicitous of Keeley,
always making sure she was within his line of vision. We were unable
to document any ties between Nira and Keeley (this could be the
result of Nira and Keeley being "littermates"). Nira did
not let Ingo get very close to Keeley without some type of warning.
In early January Monty Sloan from Wolf Park came to visit. The wolves
remember Monty and are always very excited to see him. Nira especially
enjoys soliciting belly rubs from Monty, as well as anyone else
he can get them from. Monty is a well-known photographer and when
he visits he takes pictures of the wolves. Out of the three wolves,
Nira is the hardest to photograph. He just never sits still long
enough. We continue to leash walk the wolves in order to keep them
comfortable with this exercise in the case of an emergency. Plus,
they enjoy a little adventure. Nira does very well with the leash.
He is an eager explorer and makes good use of his leash walk time,
investigating every fallen branch or hole in the ground. Nira currently
has three wolf sponsors. He has developed a good relationship with
two of his sponsors and we encourage this. We want all the sponsors
to have the opportunity to interact with their sponsored wolf to
the best of their combined abilities. In this way, we hope to further
the human understanding of the wolf. We appreciate all of our sponsors
and will strive to keep you involved and informed. We hope all of
you get a chance to come and visit us this year.