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wcs-12_21_12aidanfaceAidan and Denali were born on April 27, 2008 and joined the Exhibit Pack on August 4th, 2008. The 2008 pup introduction was very unique for the Center as it was the first time that our Exhibit pack contained three subspecies of the gray wolf and three age groups-the arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos) born in 2000, Great Plains wolves (Canis lupus nubilus) born in 2004 and Rocky Mountain wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis) born in 2008. Aidan was clearly the more submissive of the two pups during the first few years of his life, and was considered a lower ranking wolf. He was often forced to submit by Maya, the dominant female of the Exhibit Pack from 2005 – 2011. After Maya’s death, Aidan took on a higher ranking role and was the leader of the pack for the 2012 and 2016 pup introductions.  Aidan continues to maintain order within the pack, often intervening when rank order issues become more intense especially during the winter season. Each wolf in the Exhibit and Retired Pack will have weekly updates posted to reveal their individual personalities and the dynamics of their respective packs, please check the individual logs for details.

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Recent Logs for Aidan:

We were able to capture this prancing behavior from Aidan on the surveillance video.

Aidan-Prancing With The Pack (Some Of The Pack?)

April 15th, 2018

We have moments when Aidan shows some strong pack cohesiveness with Denali, Grayson and even at times Axel, but as soon as Boltz arrives, he reverts back to intimidation and retreat mode.  There are definite correlations to the temperatures, and as you can see by this week’s photo, the snow gets everyone excited.  Aidan is prancing with Denali as the younger wolves are running along the fenceline.  I posted this video clip on last week’s Youtube. Aidan had a vet check last week and there were discussions about the growth that has been irritating his front leg.  At this point, we are measuring and monitoring the growth size and growth rate as well as the irritation factor.  The Veterinarian prescribed an antihistamine, since mast cell’s can be a result of a body’s response to allergens and inflammation.  Aidan has had a history of auto-immune disorders dating back to 2011 with his first diagnosis of discoid lupus, so this has been an ongoing management issue for staff.  

As far as the testing of Aidan’s status, this seems to be diminishing, although the colder than average April has kept things a bit tense a big longer than usual.  It seems like the arctics are having face-off behaviors with Boltz which makes us think there might be some rank establishment among the three younger wolves.  Rank isn’t something that’s settled in a day, it is a combination of behavioral occurrences that build over time and are influenced by hormones and certainly cooler ambient temperatures.  To say that the pack is testing, does not infer that testing interactions are the sole interactions of the pack.  Even on a daily basis, the wolves can go from testing dominance to a “nose to nose” greetings and end up resting in social groups with the same individuals that had earlier experienced conflict.  Wolves don’t hold a grudge or want to get even with each other. Aidan was the wolf that lead the social bonding with the arctic pups on their introduction into the pack and despite the testing, Aidan and Grayson still have a strong bond; On Saturday, the staff reported all wolves but Boltz were resting on the pump housing together.  That’s not a very large space for 4 large wolves, so they must have been feeling compatible.  We look for evidence in every interaction, so we have the ability to understand wolf intent. 

Aidan – Showing More Confidence, Sometimes

March 27th, 2018

This week has found Aidan showing more confidence at times, but still not all the way back to managing the pack.  He is able to control the food resource, acquiring and defending carcasses, but when it comes to rank order, Boltz and Axel give him the most anxiety.  He has been resting with Grayson and seems to have limited concern about Grayson’s presence.  Staff did identify a pea sized lump on his incision site where the last mass cell tumor was removed.  This certainly will change management decisions.  Based on the last growth development, we may have to look at medical intervention in a few months. So far, Aidan has stayed active, often prancing to the edge of the woodline when the pack is active, looking like he is moments away from joining in, but then decides against it.  You may notice that we moved the Exhibit webcam  angle this afternoon so we can get a better surveillance view of Aidan’s resting spot.  Staff have been asked to pay particular attention to Aidan’s focus on his leg.  Please feel free to email me with any observations you may have.  If you could identify the time stamp on the webcam, this will help us retrieve footage.   

Aidan resting in the cover hay while Denali and Boltz have a dominance encounter.

Aidan – Tolerance But Still Lacking In Confidence

March 18th, 2018

Aidan has been spending the last few weeks on a cover hay mound of snow in front of the windows.  This height advantage definitely makes him more tolerant of the pack during the daily rallies.  This confidence has led to Aidan taking his morning supplements at the fence.  This hasn’t occurred since mid-January when this whole situation started, so it could be a response of him gaining more confidence or an indication of the seasonal change of more calming behavioral patterns. There are some limits, Aidan still doesn’t go beyond the safety of the lower enclosure.  When the pack takes a run up to the top of the hill, Aidan will prance back, displaying a stiff-leg jump in excitement, but confident enough to follow. 

Aidan- Taking It Day By Day

March 8th, 2018

This week’s photo was taken by Christina Rizzo while visiting the Center for a recent Wildlife Photography session with Heidi Pinkerton.  Aidan has had more freedom of movement and has really benefited from the added cover hay in front of the windows.  There seems to be some days that are better than others and it is difficult to find the correlation of temperature, feeding, behavior, attitudes or staffing.  We did have a real surprise when Aidan came into the building on March 2nd when we were weighing the arctics and he stepped on the scale as well.  His weight of 136 pound was the same weight recorded last summer; A weight loss would be concerning and might be an indication that there is an underlying health issue, so, maintaining a steady weight is a good sign.  We had some snow removal in the enclosure today and Aidan was reluctant to go into holding, even with the pack locked in the east side retirement area.  We take it day by day and meet his needs on his terms.  It’s the least we can do for a pack leader who has experienced so much in his nearly 10 years of life. 

Weight: 136

Back in the Pack

Aidan – Making Strides

February 23rd, 2018

We have had some noticeable improvement with Aidan’s confidence.  On Tuesday, February 20th, Aidan came to the front gate and took his morning supplements with the rest of the pack.  This was real progress, he hadn’t had the confidence to be in such close proximity with the pack since January 11th.  But, we have been expecting, spring is the time for winter attitudes to calm and tensions to subside.  But still, we were very surprised that during wolf care today, Aidan joined the arctic yearlings in the medical pen that is only a 6 foot by 20 foot area. In previous weeks, close proximity interactions were out of his comfort zone.  As we have experienced with past pack leaders, this season of calm may allow Aidan to stay within the Exhibit Pack through the summer, but he and Denali will be 10 years of age on April 27th.  We may have retained Aidan’s presence in the pack now, but we will likely need to prepare a plan as next fall’s tension returns and a retirement will probably occur.  At least if we wait until October, the arctics will have reached maturity and may not be more suited to lead.  We still see the vulnerability of the juveniles when there’s conflict, especially from Grayson.