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The Wolves in Spring – by Maria Ferguson


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The Wolves are in various stages of falling apart at the seams (blowing their undercoats).  It’s funny every year it’s the same pattern with them.  Woha and Wa-ta-chee are always the first to lose their big old winter coats with Chito being next, then Ohoyo, Waya and Niko Akni holding on to his for as long as he can.  Niko stays in the den on warm days, it’s like he tries to keep that fur.  All of the Wolves enjoy when I help them get it off.  I believe it makes them itchy having it hang from them.  When I pull Niko’s off, he stays perfectly still and then I give him a good scratching when I’m through but he doesn’t want me to take it away.  When I start to take it out of the enclosure he tries to steal it from me.  When I took this picture of him on the den, he had just stole the handful of fur I had and brought it up there.  He immediately started to spread it out.  He makes me laugh.  They really do look a mess when they are losing those coats but when it’s done they are so clean and look like totally different animals. niko_akni_050113-2.jpg

The pack has been pretty melancholy since the passing of Nita.  Chito has become so demanding of affection and closeness.  That’s what she had with Nita.  I think I’ve become her replacement.  In the video, A Wolfie Montage that I shot over the course of the month the Wolf who is cuddling me is Chito.  Niko has always been very affectionate with me and so was Woha.  Chito was never like that with me.  She preferred the company of her Sister, Nita and human men.  They are howling a bit more again.  For awhile after Nita passed they were pretty quiet.  Their Easter Egg hunt was pretty much a bust.  They just didn’t feel like celebrating.  They are just like us in the respect of missing a cherished family member.  They are eating better these last few weeks.  One of the days this week, I actually had to bring out more food so that is a good sign.  I’ve also seen Woha initiating play with Niko Akni and Wa-ta-chee so maybe she could improve the mood of the pack with her naughty nature.

Ohoyo is fine.  She has been soliciting more affection from me too.  Nita used to spend a lot of her time by the fence separating the two enclosures and Ohoyo would lie next to her.  Nita was always a Mama’s girl.  One year after breeding season when Ohoyo was still in the main enclosure, she was having a false pregnancy and she made poor Nita sit with her in the den cradled in Ohoyo’s forelegs.  Nita used to try and sneak out but Ohoyo would come and scold her and make her get back in.  It took awhile for me to figure it out but when I did it just struck me so funny.  I peeked in the den and there was Nita’s head in Ohoyo’s arms looking at me like “help me”.  Ohoyo was licking her all over the ears and face.

niko_akni_050113-1.jpgWe are planning on sectioning off their enclosure to put a small pond, like the Memphis Zoo has for their Wolves, in.  We will set it up so we can give Ohoyo more room and a chance to enjoy the pond without the other Wolves around.  It will also free up an area for us, if need be, in case we have to isolate a Wolf.  We can move Wolves in and out of the pond area so they all get to enjoy it stress free.  Our schedules are busy until mid July so I doubt we will get this under way until then.  We are planning on doing the work ourselves, less stress on the Wolves and cheaper.  If anyone has any ideas on how to keep the water cool during the hot Mississippi summers, we’d love to hear from you.  Here is a picture of the pond at the Memphis Zoo.

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