Nira Update Page

On this page, we have put up past updates of the wolves. A significant portion of the update page includes updates that the wolf sponsors receive.

Fall Update on Nira-1999

Since Ingo`s (IO) arrival (8-8-99), Nira (NA) seems more reluctant to put himself into a "compromising" position. NA would solicit tummy rubs more often before IO arrival. NA seems more active, pacing about the enclosure, resting little - except when IO is resting. Although NA exhibited this "restless" behavior before IO`s arrival, we have noticed an increase. This increase may be related to the fact that NA is now exhibiting his stamina in an effort to hold his alpha status. A day after IO arrived, we noted that whenever IO whines, NA and KY would run to him to see what is happening. Also, when NA hears a sound coming from IO or the area where IO is, NA will immediately prick up his ears and may go trotting to check the noise out. NA also will come trotting over to us humans when we are interacting with IO - to see if all is OK. Whenever we have a new person or a peripheral volunteer comes out, NA becomes slightly excited and anxious. We also have documented that NA and KY are holding their tails out straighter and appear to be more alert than before. On August 12, Karen Davis (KD), Nira and Keeley`s puppy mother, made a visit. As always, both the adults seem "happy" to see her and NA seems to get a little excited by whining and sometimes clanking or snapping his teeth - usually an indication that NA is letting his excitement get the best of him. It is both heartwarming and a bit nervous for me to see how the adults respond to their puppymother. At times, wolves can become too excited and then the intensity level can pick up to where you need to defuse them. A week after IO arrival, we noticed that NA seems to be patrolling the area still and ready to defend IO from any enemies. NA continues to whimper and whine at IO. On the 19 of August, we first noted NA to be asserting dominance over IO. I have included a segment of my notes that gives an interesting account of how wolves in pack look for any opportunity to better themselves or to make a "point". In this case, KY was becoming quit bothered and upset, evidenced by her raised hackles, at IO. After taking so much, KY then decided to return some of the harassment she had been subjected to by IO. NA, at first looked on but after seeing KY chase after IO with intensity, then decided (we think), that he had an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his dominance over IO. 11/6/99…NA also wanted to get involved and it appeared that he was also tormenting KY. All of a sudden, KY began to growl and took off after IO. KY did not seem to care at that time about anything else except to get at the pesky mass of wolf fur and really teach him a lesson. At this point, NA sensing that this was "fun" also took part in the chase of the pre-teen wolf. I imagine that if IO were caught, he would face a strict reprimand. After about 7 minutes of the two adults chasing the "firecracker" (IO), they were able to corner him against the fence. Although we could not see what happened next, we surmise, by IO actions later, that he was thoroughly chastised and "put into place" by the alphas. After the high-speed chase was over, the adults freely took drinks of water while the accused stood about 10 feet back, watching. As the adults approached us, IO gingerly made his way to get a cool drink. After interacting with the adults, both NA and KY went to rest. It was then, and only then that IO decided that it might be safe for him to approach us. However, as the unsuspecting pre-teen made his way to us, we were chuckling under our breath because we knew something that he did not - NA was waiting in ambush for him. As IO approached closer, NA sprang out and put a final exclamation point on the chase. NA then went and found a cool, comfortable place to watch over his "territory". What is interesting from the above is that NA, sensing KY intensity directed at IO, decided to also become involved and actually became more intense and acted with more purpose than did KY. As of 11/13/99, NA weighs 110 pounds and appears to be healthy and fit. All vaccinations are up to date. NA still remains the alpha over IO. We really do not expect any changes to take place until IO becomes a bit older and surer of himself. However, KY is still submitting to NA and will side up with NA during little squabbles between NA and IO. This is crucial for an incumbent alpha - if he or she has the support of the pack, then generally they retain their status. However, if KY were to jump sides and assist IO in the squabbles, then NA would have to defend his rank against not one, but two wolves. So far, NA is doing little to allow IO an opportunity to "gain points". NA is a very expressive wolf, displaying his emotions very clearly. It is amusing to watch as IO would run up to NA, wanting to "play tag" with NA - to watch NA give a very slight agonistic pucker (baring of the canines - a way of saying "leave me alone or I shall whip you one"). IO then backs away and looks as if he were saying "scrooge" to NA. The breeding season is just around the corner and by observing NA, we can tell that he is becoming a bit more interested in KY. NA is also beginning to display more of his tricks against us humans, a combination of the breeding season and the cooler weather. NA now has three wolf sponsors and has met one of those sponsors on three different occasions and they seem to be building a good relationship. We really want our sponsors to have a good time, learn and generally become involved as much as possible with their sponsored wolf. This involvement has the potential to build even a better understanding of wolves and their ecology and behavior. We really do appreciate and respect our sponsors and will go to great lengths to make their sponsorship period satisfying.

Winter Update on Nira- 2000 - prepared 3/00

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.

Spring Update on Nira-2000

Nira remains the king of the Wolf Timbers pack, although we are never quite sure how long he will hold on to his title. He appears to be in excellent health and looks relaxed and content in his home. As of 7-14-00 he weighed in at 110 pounds. He is up to date on all his vaccinations. Nira did have a rather large "hot spot" this spring, which we treated with a shot of Depo-Medrol. The hot spot cleared up in 3 days, a bit longer than normal but due to the amount of rain we have had (which kept the spot moist) we are nevertheless pleased. This year we applied fly cream to all three wolves' ears. This is the first year that we have had to do this. The flies bite the tips of the ears and after a while, the wolves' lose fur over the tips of the ears. It is actually quite comical to see the wolves after an application of the cream, for it is a brilliant pink in color, giving the wolves a punk look. Nira is still asserting his status upon the yearling male, Ingo. He is keeping the younger wolf in his place with growls; grumps and an occasional well placed nip. Although he rules the roost, Nira still enjoys a fast paced race through the enclosure with Keeley and Ingo. During these chases, Nira will allow Ingo to chase him but Nira will not accept or acknowledge any of Ingo`s many small scale "challenges" to Nira's alpha status. We must also mention that alpha wolves do not necessarily have to be dominant each and every minute of every day. Alpha wolves only assert themselves when necessary. Usually, this is in defense of territory or puppies, or guarding a mate. Nira will also ambush Ingo as he is chasing Keeley about the enclosure. Nira remains the most social of the three wolves. He will never tire of submitting for a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. We wonder if his ease of social interactions with humans stems from his surgery as a pup. When Nira was born, he was urinating through his umbilicus. This required surgery and recovery time. One can imagine the attention he received during his recovery and makes us wonder if this is not the reason he seems to be more relaxed around people then the other two. He is an impressive looking wolf, and bears his alpha status well. His coat is a never changing range of colors. He switches from coal black in winter to an almost auburn hue during the molting stage. Nira is our first wolf to begin molting in the spring, well before Keeley or Ingo start. He also looks like a Musk Oxen, with remnants of fur hanging almost to the ground. Nira really looks good, solid, muscular and well balanced. Nira is a comedian at heart and seems to enjoy pulling his little pranks. One of his favorites is pushing over the planks within the enclosure. The volunteers use these planks to sit on while inside the enclosure. Most times, we find the planks turned upside down on the ground. Occasionally, Nira will even try to push the planks over while a volunteer is still sitting there! Nira is comfortable around the public and often will lay and snooze in a shady spot while the visitors look on. Nira is a wonderful member of the pack and we are glad he calls Wolf Timbers his home.

This update on Nira covers the summer and early fall months of 2000.

Nira came through the summer and early fall months well. Nira last weighed in at 114 pounds. Although we recently set out to weigh him, we were unable to do so because of the increasing level of intensity displayed between Nira and Ingo. Nira is doing well and is up to date on all vaccinations, which he received the 18th of August. Dr. Duerr also came out and inspected the wolves. All three were given a clean bill of health. Nira has finally set down the rule of law to Ingo. Much to our satisfaction and sigh of relief, Ingo has begun to behave, as a subordinate should. Nira clearly dominates Ingo and Keeley although Nira still remains very gentle with the volunteers. From reading my notes, dated 9/8/2000, you can get a feel for what we are talking about. "…Keeley walked towards Ingo at which point NA proceeded to agonistic pucker at Ingo. Nira had his tail out and his hackles extended up to his tail. Nira also postured at Ingo (sort of making himself look bigger), a way of calling Ingo`s bluff. Ingo did do a bit better job today of submitting but obviously not enough, because Nira took off after Ingo, caught him and rode on his back for about 20 feet. Ingo stopped, with Nira on his back. Nira was growling at Ingo, staring at his eyes and baring his canines. This was an attempt by Nira to say to Ingo "go ahead, try it". As long as Ingo stood still and did not move, Nira, it seemed, would not go any farther in his disciplining. This lasted for about 30 seconds. Ingo stood motionless and Nira then jumped off of Ingo and trotted away. Nira also turned around a few times to check on Ingo`s attitude". Nira at times will get involved in a chase between Keeley and Ingo, but not to chase Keeley. Nira will intercept Ingo, as he is unaware that Nira is watching him. Keeley will then turn around, see that Ingo is no longer chasing her but to find Ingo running from Nira. Keeley will then reverse the role and begin to chase Ingo. Another segment of my notes, written on 9/2/2000, indicate that Nira is defending his food against Ingo - ending Ingo`s "puppy status". "…threw over apples from the air lock to provide a distraction…Ingo went after Nira's apple and Nira pinned Ingo to the ground and bared his canines at Ingo. This was very intense. Ingo tried to run away but Nira rode Ingo for about 15 feet, uttering a deep growl at Ingo." It seems that most of the "spats" between Ingo and Nira center around Keeley or food. Also on this day, the wolves received pop cycles for the very first time. This year marked the first year that we had any problem with biting flies on the wolves. We sprayed "fly's off" on the ground and the wolves' scent rolled in it. On October 29th, we had a "pumpkin party" for the wolves. We had people fill up pumpkins with wolf treats and then they placed their pumpkin in the enclosure. The wolves seemed to enjoy this, once they were shown that the pumpkins held treats for them. Nira is extremely comfortable with visitors and will generally walk up to the fence and rub along it as he inspects his audience. Nira still enjoys leash walks however, lately he is hesitant to go where he cannot see or interact freely with Keeley. Nira still enjoys getting in the water trough to cool off. Nira still likes his belly rubs and will actively search out anyone in the enclosure that is willing to rub his belly. From all of us at Wolf Timbers, we wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.


Nira has remained the alpha of the pack at Wolf Timbers. Some of you may wonder if he has ever been tested by Ingo. The answer is, yes, but so far Nira has been able to respond effectively to Ingo. This year's breeding season came and went with no documented tying between Nira and Keeley. Nira was a bit possessive of Keeley for about two weeks in mid-February. Believe me when I say Nira was more interested in Keeley than food! From this statement you can understand how intent Nira was on Keeley. It was during this time period that Nira would not leave Keeley's side - even when we entered the enclosure. Research at Wolf Park has shown that there is a period of about one week when the female produces a particular pheromone. Conception has a higher probability of occurring if breeding takes place during this time. The research has also shown that at this time the alpha male will guard and attend the female preventing any other suitors near her. We could pretend to examine him only if Keeley was also greeting us. Nira did not even solicit belly rubs at this time. We could also say that Nira displayed more interest towards us during this period, not in an aggressive mood by any means but by not allowing "unsupervised" visits between Keeley and us. This was the most intense that we have seen him. We can all breath a sigh of "finally " now that all has returned to pre-breeding season status. Nira has been exhibiting an earnest desire to "get a game started " with the other wolves by inviting the others to chase him. All is well until Ingo ends up disobeying by doing something that Nira sees but we are unable to notice. It is at this time, Nira will discipline Ingo. Nira recently had a visitor in the form of his puppy mother, Karen Davis. Karen helped raise Nira and Keeley from their early puppyhood. This is how the wolves are socialized to humans. The wolves remember Karen well, and are always excited when she comes to visit. She usually ends up quite muddy and disheveled from all the wolfie paws and kisses they give to her. Nira is now eating like a . . .wolf. He looks very healthy and solid. His coat is shiny, black and thick. The rich black of his coat is interlaced with bits of white, especially around his muzzle. It gives him a distinguished look. He has also begun to howl again for some unknown reason. Nira did not howl during breeding season. We are not quite sure why this occurred. Keeley and Ingo would often try to get him to howl, waiting for the cue from him to start, but it wouldn't come. The return of his howl is a welcome sound; just don't tell him that he's a little tone deaf. Nira remains our easiest wolf to read but he also has a more in depth character then the other two wolves. He is an enigma, so to speak. Nira has once again returned to his old tricks of pushing the planks over and observing all new visitors inside the main enclosure with curious eyes. Being around Nira, you can easily pick up on his reserved confidence - he knows that he is the boss, but does not abuse his privilege. Keeley defers to him from both a distance and up close while Ingo, as all teenagers are wont to do, tests the waters a bit more. Nira and his friends are the reason Wolf Timbers exists and we are privileged to be able to care for him. As his sponsor, we encourage you to come and visit as often as you like. Please feel free to call us to make an appointment or just to see how he is doing. The 2001 season at Wolf Timbers is going to be a great one! There are several new programs in place and also a few howl nights have been added. Hope to see you sometime in 2001!

Spring Update on Nira-2001

Spring has finally shown it's lovely face at Wolf Timbers. The trees are lush with green leaves, the flowers fragrant with blossoms and Nira is in need of a hairstylist. Now is the time the wolves shed their thick winter coats. Unfortunately, in Nira's case, this leaves him looking like a large wooly mammoth. This has also made him a little cranky, due to the humid conditions and shedding fur. He is one itchy wolf. All of this will get better with time, as spring progresses to summer and the remainder of fur is shed. Most of the fur on his lower torso has been shed, leaving behind an impressive "mane" surrounding his upper shoulders and chest. There is a large "striped" area down the middle of his back that has lost the winter fur. This gives him a rather strange appearance. Nira remains the Alpha of the pack, showing his dominance over Ingo whenever the youngster steps beyond the boundary line that only a wolf can determine. Despite Nira's scruffy appearance, he is in other wise perfect health. The last time Nira was weighed, he measured in at around 110 pounds. All of his vaccinations are up to date. He continues to have a large appetite and enjoys the occasional treats such as; apples, dog biscuits and sardines. Recently, Nira and the other two wolves celebrated their birthdays. All of the wolves at Wolf Timbers were born in April. Nira's birthday is April 9th, 1997. Wolf Timbers celebrated by having a party. The Wolf Birthday Eggstravaganza was held on April 22nd and all sponsors and the public where invited. The highlight was when the wolves indulged in their "birthday cakes". The cakes were made from frozen chicken broth mixed with ground cooked deer meat and topped with melted vanilla ice cream and hot dogs. Nira really seemed to enjoy this cool, tasty treat! Wolf Timbers officially opened its season on May 6th. Prior to this, we have been very busy with several school tours. The school children come to Wolf Timbers to meet the wolves as well as listen to an educational program. Nira is always on hand and ready to help out for a program. He is usually one of the first of the three wolves to greet the children as they enter the compound and have a seat on the bleachers. Ever curious, you may notice Nira sniffing the air or even rubbing up against the enclosure fence in order to catch some of the interesting smells coming from the other side. All of us at Wolf Timbers thank you for your sponsorship of Nira. Because of you, we are able to care for him and help keep him healthy and content. We invite you to visit him this year and get a personal glimpse of this noble, gentle fellow.

Nira Update Fall 2001

Welcome Nira sponsors! We hope you have all indulged in a long, enjoyable summer and are looking forward to a blustery, exciting fall! We would like to apologize for the slight delay in getting the Fall updates to you. Needless to say, the past few months have been extraordinary. Wolf Timbers has enjoyed a productive open season this year, welcoming guests from far and wide. Being open every Sunday from May through October kept the wolves social calendars very busy. The company of Wolf Timbers visitors graced even the really “yucky” weather days. As the days get shorter and the nights cooler, Wolf Timbers is preparing to button down for the winter. We will still be having our Howl Night on November 16th, and be on the lookout for our second annual Winter Wolf Celebration in the New Year. Nira is eager to have the warm summer winds traded for some of a cooler range. Fall is his favorite time of year, next to winter, with the cooler temperatures and breeding season right around the corner. His winter fur is starting to fill in, giving him a “well fed” wolf look. We won’t tell him he looks plump, that would hurt his feelings. The different shades of color displayed in his coat are especially noticeable this time of year. Black, white and a tinge of silver blend together to complete his fall to winter ensemble. This shade variance makes him an attractive photo subject, if he would only cooperate. Nira will not sit or “strike a pose” for the camera if he catches you trying to take a photo of him. He will either walk away from you or trot towards you—making any photo difficult to obtain. Therefore, one must be a bit sneaky if you are trying to film Nira. Sometimes the volunteers are used to attract Nira`s attention—thereby allowing a photo of him to be obtained. Nira is currently up to date on all his vaccinations and seems to be in excellent health. He maintains a weight around 110 pounds and keeps trim by pacing the perimeter of the enclosure and keeping Keeley and Ingo in line. He still maintains his Alpha status over Ingo although it is the collective opinion of the volunteers that Nira has two main reasons to live—eating and belly rubs. This breeding season will be an interesting one at Wolf Timbers. Ingo has reached his sexual maturity and may just give Nira a little competition this year. Wolf Timbers tried something a little different this year by hosting “Howl Nights”. Wolves are nocturnal creatures and like to do their activities in the evening hours. Howl nights give our visitors the chance to see the wolves at their best time. One would think that with a title such as “Howl Night”, it would include howling. The wolves saw this a different way. No measure of volunteer or visitor howling could get Nira, Keeley and Ingo to perform a full tilt howl. There was many a whine, whimper and a few squeaks, but nothing that would have done them justice. Nira seems to enjoy being a ham, but that leans more to soliciting belly rubs then howling. Keeley and Ingo will often look to Nira to start the howl so they can join him in a sing along. Even though Wolf Timbers is closed to the public for the regular open season, the volunteers continue to come out on a weekly basis to work with the wolves and help maintain Wolf Timbers. I guess you could say that wintertime is Nira’s vacation. He will eat, sleep and probably reign as Alpha of the Wolf Timbers pack over the winter. Wolf Timbers hopes all of you were able to visit Nira this season. We would like to thank you, as Nira’s sponsor, for helping make the 2001 open season such a success!



Nira seems to be doing well for an older wolf, being 15, he does move a little slower. Of the two, he seems to have more limps, lumps and laziness than Keeley. Nira is still a lot of fun to be around although the gradual decline in his ability to hear, see and smell has made working with him a little exhaustive at times. When we throw over treats to them, he usually misses out on getting his fair share unless you hit him in the head with the treat. We strive to make sure that he gets his share though. Nira is getting a more bluish color to his coat. His mental and emotional well being seem to have been put a little to ease since Ingo's unfortunate passing. Both he and Keeley exhibit a more relaxed attitude and at times, can be observed playing a little together. Nothing like years ago when he would run around the enclosure, chasing her and then all of a sudden veer off the "chasing-the-Keeley-path" and jump right into the back of an unsuspecting volunteer (remember Jenn?). A few weeks ago, I was providing them cool treats in the form of foot long hot dogs. A favorite spot to throw over these treats WAS the drive through gate that is not that visible from the bleachers. Did you notice the word "WAS"? Well, this gate has two sections that swing open and outward. In the closed position, the gates are held together by a 3 foot sliding metal rod that connects one side to the other by passing the rod through a circle attached to one gate. The space between the gate and the sliding rod narrows as it progresses downward. As has happened for 15 years, Nira would jump up on the fence in an attempt to get the most treats he could. This particular day was no exception. Everything was going fine until I heard this awful noise coming from somewhere - it took a few seconds for me to realize that this noise was being emitted from Nira's mouth. As I looked down, his paw had slid down the between the gate and the metal rod and was lodged there, like in a vise. Keeley was right there, antagonizing him too boot! Now what do I do???????? I grabbed a hold of his paw and checked for Nira's reaction - none - as he was actively yelling at Keeley (in the human sense) that he couldn't do the dishes as he was caught in the dishwasher!! Seriously, after receiving no reaction from Nira that my hand was now around his paw, I gently lifted upward and pulled slight traction on his paw. This worked and he was now free and that awful noise was silenced. My heart and stomach seemed to meet at some point during this event and when it was over, after watching him to make sure there was no obvious injury, I sat down to reflect. He made no effort at all, as my hand encircled his paw, to bite at me or pull away - he made no growls directed towards me - he, in a human sense, completely trusted me more than a human would trust another human. This was the first time this has occurred in 15 years and from now on, we no longer give treats at this location. Nira has suffered no long term negative effects of this heart and gut wrenching situation. For me, and all of those that love these wolves, there will never be another Ingo, Nira or Keeley. All wolves are individuals with their own set of "individualities" just like us humans.


We will be putting up more updates on Nira throughout the year. Please check back often. Thank you for visiting.


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