October is courting season for the Wolves in the wild as well as the WHAP Wolves. The male’s testosterone levels are beginning to rise and the females are responding to their affectionate offerings. This is most evident in the behaviors I see between Niko Akni and Chito. I see him dominate her which 2 months ago she wouldn’t have tolerated. I do also see Waya being affectionate with her so this will cause a few problems between the two males as this season progresses. This is all in preparation for their annual breeding season. They come into season in the winter months. This is not unusual for Temperate Zone species. What is unique to the species is that they only have one ovulatory cycle (monestrum) annually. Most other mammals are polyestrum, which means they cycle continuously. Research studies have been done on this subject and the conclusions are that the reasons for this monestrum cycle relate to the Wolves social system and structure. This monestrum cycle helps to reduce the aggression and strain that may be bestowed on less dominant animals during the breeding season. The lengthy proestrus cycle enables the male and female to locate a mate and pair bond which enhances the chances of a conception taking place during estrus. Pair bonding is not limited to the breeding season as we are experiencing now at WHAP. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as Chito would not receive a male last breeding season.
The Wolves are enjoying the cooler temperatures. They are more active during the day now. I see a lot of games of chase going on. They even try and get me to play. When I go in to see them in the mornings, I usually get a play bow or two and then fake out where they pretend to run after me but stop short and dash away with a backward glance. They are initiating play.
I went into their enclosure yesterday at mid-morning to get some video for the newsletter. You never know what you’ll get. It turned out to be what I call a chattery morning. They were sort of howling but there was also a good deal of monkey chatter going on. Watch Mid-Morning Wolves.