We currently have three Red Wolf brothers that are 2 years old, but arrived at the museum when they were only 7 months. We have spoken about our two other Red Wolves in previous posts, but Red Wolf #1390 is the one featured here.
Red Wolf #1390 is the alpha of the three brothers (which means he is the highest-ranking wolf and is dominant over the others), probably due in part to him being the healthiest. He is not as shy as the other two, and frequently comes closer to the viewing area more often than his brothers. A perfect example of this is the picture to the right, which I took from the viewing area while he just stood there looking at me! Don’t let this fool you, though. Red Wolves are naturally very shy, and when the keepers are inside the exhibit all of the wolves move as far away from us as possible. We consider them to be wild and are not hands-on with them unless it is for a medical reason such as their annual physicals.
Being the alpha, #1390 (often called “Wolf #1″ by the keepers because of his rank) is usually the first wolf to interact with the daily enrichment (click here to read about what enrichment is). Depending on what the item is, he will keep his brothers away by showing his dominance until he is finished with it. Typically this means he will lunge at them or chase them while showing his teeth, and even nip at them to make them move away if they get too close. If the enrichment consists of items such as mice that are hidden or pig ears that are scattered around the exhibit, #1390 will try and eat or hoard all of them for himself. Often times he will come down off the cliff to inspect things before the keepers have even left the exhibit, but his brothers typically wait until we are out of the exhibit before they come down to investigate.
One of the enrichment items that our wolves receive is a “fake animal” that is made out of cardboard boxes, tubes, paper mache and wool. We have plenty of wool that we can use because we save it when our farmyard sheep get sheared. Red Wolves hunt small mammals such as raccoons, nutria and other rodents. The largest prey item that they hunt is deer, but unfortunately we do not have any deer fur to put on our fake animal! Before now, none of the keepers had ever seen the wolves interact with this enrichment. Usually they wait until nighttime to tear it up, and we only find the remnants of it the next morning. But this time our patience paid off, and after spending a while at the viewing area, Red Wolf #1390 finally came down to check it out! We thoroughly enjoyed watching him, and managed to get some of his first interactions on video. Please excuse some of the shakiness, as I was holding the camera by hand and laughing for a good portion of it!
Want to learn more about Red Wolf #1390′s brothers? Read the post about our Red Wolf with PRA, Red Wolf #1391. There is also a post about Red Wolf #1389, who was born with a joint disease and is currently limping from a knee injury. Stay tuned for an update on how he is doing, which will be coming soon.
To learn more about Red Wolves, go to http://www.redwolves.com/