Home   »   Wolf   »   Axel


Axel, along with his littermate Grayson, are arctic subspecies of the gray wolf species (Canis lupus) born in captivity at a facility in Canada. Axel may be distinguished by his lighter facial coloration, almond shaped eyes and somewhat slimmer face. As young adults, it may be difficult to distinguish specific characteristics until they reach maturity at 18 – 24 months of age. Arctic wolves’ native habitat is found in the northern regions of North America as well as along the eastern and northern shores of Greenland. There are several large islands that occupy this region including Ellsemere and Axel Hieberg islands. Axel’s name was selected in honor of the wolves that range on Axel Hieberg island.  This region is typically snow covered for most of the year, but a mid-June to mid-August thaw supports enough plant material to feed the arctic wolf’s prey: musk-ox, caribou and arctic hares.  


For more information on our ambassador wolves, watch extended wolf videos on the International Wolf Center’s YouTube Channel or enjoy a close-up of wolf behavior on our Wolf Watch Cams.

If you are interested in sponsoring Axel, please click here.







Recent Logs for Axel:

Can you ID by facial features?

Axel – Larger, But More Slender Facial Features

April 15th, 2018

As the arctics near 2 years of age, we see the skeletal growth come to an end and the features they now possess will be their characteristics throughout their life.  Similar to Malik, our last set of arctic wolves born on May 8, 2000, Axel has a narrower muzzle and appears more slended in facial features despite being nearly 14 pounds heavier than his sibling.  His eye formation appears more almond-shaped in appearance.  Can you ID Axel in the photo?  If you guessed the left side of the photo, you guessed right.  When you look at the pelage, Grayson continues to display a darker saddle across his shoulders.  Behaviorally, the staff have been noticing Axel is quick to bound up to individuals, do a quick ride-up and mount, then bound away to display the same behavior to another packmate.  He doesn’t seem to follow any patterns or even a train of thought some days.  in a recent staff behavioral log, staff noted “At 3:30 today, Axel walked over to Grayson, who was finding a spot to curl up and rest by the observation windows when Axel came over, did a hip slam, chin rest and play bow towards Grayson, which elicited no response from Grayson, causing Axel to move on to Denali.”

Weight: 100.5

Axel – Stalking

March 27th, 2018

Axel and Grayson are very active with each other, and the rest of the pack. This past week they have been working together to test their limits with Boltz and Denali. While Grayson’s activities are usually limited to chasing, Axel is biting, pulling tails, and doing ride-ups. In the last few days he seems to be focusing more on Denali.  This is a natural process until the pack can define a new leader.  Denali is quick to respond with a high tail and a few ride-up’s of his own.  Boltz is less confident about the attention. 

Ears seem to show some intimidation

Axel – Is Leadership A Good Fit

March 18th, 2018

Axel is definitely taking every opportunity to assert some status.  His tension is still quite high with Denali and Boltz, displaying ride-up behaviors doing some face-off behaviors, not to mention taking any opportunity to grab-bite Aidan’s tail.  Certainly, he has confidence; he was the more confident of the two pups and some of his behavior seems to be mirroring his pup behavior, but is that enough to lead a pack and is leadership a good fit with Axel’s personality?  Only time will tell, but independence doesn’t make for strong bonds.  We continue to see the importance of strong bonds between Grayson and Aidan.  If Axel leads, will he show the same level of trust and leadership for the 2020 pups or will they form alliances with the more social companionship of Grayson or Boltz? Even though it is only 2018, the preparation for the 2020 pups is underway and these are the kind of questions on the minds of the curator. 

Axel, Grayson and Boltz in a group howl

Axel- Pack Rally

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.  The wolves provided many opportunities for great photos including this one of Axel, Grayson and Boltz displaying a pack rally.  Axel has been very active lately and there seems to be a correlation with temperatures and some behaviors that are more hormonally driven.  We have noticed some mounting and rid-up behavior displayed towards Denali and Boltz.  Between the arctics, Axel is definitely more antagonistic towards Aidan, often displaying a threat display as he approaches.  The good thing is we are on the downhill slide of winter and these challenging times should diminish.  Axel was weighed on March 2nd and he continues to maintain a good weight around 98 pounds. 

Weight: 98

Axel taking a rest

Axel – Notice The Facial Features

February 23rd, 2018

Many people ask about identifying Axel and Grayson.  The most distinctive characteristic is the grayish saddle on Grayson’s back.  What if you are only looking at at a facial view?  One thing to note is the definition of the Axel’s muzzle.  Do you notice the more slender appearance with less of a sweep below the eyes?  If so, you are noting Axel’s characteristics.  If you add his behavioral characteristics of pulling pack member’s tails, then ID becomes much easier.