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Summer Visitors to Wolf Howl Animal Preserve, the good, the bad and the ugly – by Maria Ferguson

Alpha Female Wolf picture

visitor picturesWe’ve had some wonderful visitors this summer from all over the USA and some from abroad.  There are a few that really have stood out.  One of those was a young Man, Eugene Mallet of Georgia, who has loved Wolves his entire life.  His fiancée surprised him with a trip to Wolf Howl to meet Wolves for the first time in “real” life.  It made me feel so good to see the genuine happiness on his face.  What really struck me was that the Wolves were excited to see him, they even whined as if they knew him.  I’m sure they felt his joy and true regard for them. 

wayadrawing.jpgAnother visitor, Kourtney James, a 15 year old budding young artist from Texas honored us with a picture of Waya that she drew.  Kourtney loves Wolves and hopes to someday open her own Preserve for them.  Her family supports her and went way out of their way to make sure she met our Wolves.  We met other families this summer that did the same for family members that love Wolves.  Now, that’s a true Pack and I applaud them for spending part of their vacation to make another happy.  I think we also acquired a new Wolf fan during one of these visits.  She came for her Sister but was fascinated by our beautiful pack.  It is my hope that visitor’s to the Preserve, talk to others about what they have learned about Wolves.  This will be the only way to save them in the wild.

We’ve also had some visitors of the non-human variety, take a look at the shots we’ve captured with our motion detection camera.

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snakebite photo on wolfNow, I must tell you about a darker visit.  On August 4th, early in the afternoon, I noticed that Niko Akni was limping.  I went in to check on him and saw what appeared to be a scrape between his toe pads on his right front paw.  Don and I cleaned and soaked it and applied Neosporin.  We joked about what a baby he was because it really didn’t look all that bad.  A few hours later when I was going in the main enclosure to feed, I see that Chito is limping too.  I thought this was odd and decided to sit and observe.  As I was observing, I noticed that the underside of Nita’s muzzle was swelling up and the corner inside eyelid on her right eye was raw and bloody.  Just about that time, I see Niko digging something up and scent rolling on it.  When I went over to check it out, I see that it was a recently deceased Copperhead, just about shredded to pieces.  At that point, Ohoyo came and stole it right from under my nose.  Three of the Wolves began fighting over it.  Everything became clear to me and I realized that Niko, Chito and Nita must have been fighting over this snake and all three of them were bit.  Concerned about the swelling on Nita’s muzzle and worried that it may interfere with her breathing, I gently pried wolf with snakebite on her tongueher jaws open to get a look at the bite.  Her tongue was just pure black on one side and she let out an ear-piercing scream of pain.  I put in an emergency call to Dr. Harland.  Here are some interesting facts about Copperhead bites in regards to canines.  They are less likely to be fatal even though they are venomous.  Dr. Harland informed me that the only way a bite would be fatal was if the venom was injected in a main artery.  Also, if this were the case death would have taken place in 10 minutes or less.  Things I learned about the treatment of Copperhead bites is that antivenin is far more of a risk than the bite itself.  We decided to treat the painful symptoms with aspirin and administer an oral antibiotic until the swelling subsided.  I spent the first night up checking their conditions every hour on the hour until I saw that they were no longer limping and resting. We cancelled visitors for that week and the following, as we did not want to stress them out at all. Rest and TLC from their packmates and caretakers were what they needed the most.  Nita’s swelling went away within 24 hours after her first dose of the antibiotic.  All three had diarrhea the next day and looked like they were feeling pretty punk.  They were all eating and drinking, though.  Chito was the hardest to treat.  She prefers to be left alone when not feeling well.  Niko loves to be babied and allowed me to do anything I needed to do to help him get well.  The minute Nita felt better; it was back to shenanigans as usual for that girl.  She was her old self within 48 hours of the incident.  It took a bit longer for Niko and Chito.  I think they received the worse of the venom.  Chito’s wound is just starting to look better now, almost 3 weeks later.  Niko’s has been healing steadily but it appears he will have a scar across the top of his paw from skin and fur that was sloughed off from the venom.

Fall is the time of year when Male and Female Wolves form a bond that is called Pair Bonding.  I can tell that the season is on its way.  They become very attentive to pack members of the opposite sex.  The male Wolves start getting very lovey-dovey with me, too.  They like to be loved on and petted.  I get lots of raw meat kisses. Ewwww...... Normally, Wa-ta-chee is too vigilant to be distracted for any length of time.  This time of year he can’t get enough belly rubs and will either paw my hand or nuzzle me to continue if I stop.  Waya being the cautious Wolf throws most of it to the wind at this time of year in favor of back scratches and lower back rubs.  Niko Akni is always loving.  The time of year and its hormonal effects do not apply to him at all.  I hope that this does not change with him as he matures.

I’ve added some pictures to the following galleries:
Chito Niko Akni Nita Ohoyo  Wa-ta-chee Waya Woha   Wolf Pictures, Spring/Summer 2009.  Make sure to click on the picture for a larger image.  Hope you like them.

Woha spends pretty much of her daytime hours chasing newborn baby lizards up trees.  Ohoyo spends her days keeping her kids in line so she could nap but her evenings are spent running around the enclosure with Woha, Nita and Chito.  Chito and Niko practice some pretty fancy moves on each other.  It’s amazing to watch two large Wolves jump straight up twisting and thrusting their long bodies at each other while they are suspended in mid air.  Waya and Wa-ta-chee will occasionally join in the evening games as well.  With the cooler evenings, chorus howls are also returning.  I just stop whatever I’m doing to just listen. 

On a more serious note, It is my hope that all wild places will hold this awe inspiring sound for generations to come.  Wolves in the wild lead a hard enough life without man hunting them for sport or control.

wolf pack photo

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