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DenaliAidan 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. Denali was fairly immune to dominance rank order. He was more prone to social engagement and avoided interactions that related to dominance. He was encouraged to be more dominant by the 2nd ranking male, Grizzer, who allowed Denali to readily take food or possessions without any sign of threat display. By the time Denali turned two years of age, he was always very social, but also very testing. Growing up without limits to his behavior resulted in his continual testing. Denali is the reason Grizzer transitioned into retirement. After Maya’s death, there was no leadership in the pack, and Grizzer didn’t show signs of rising to a leadership role. Since the introduction of the 2012 pups, Luna and Boltz, Denali continues to be food possessive and socially engaging with the pups, but doesn’t show them much dominance. This is certainly a repeat behavior from how Grizzer treated Denali in 2008. 

Each wolf in the Exhibit and Retired Pack will have regular updates posted to reveal their individual personalities and the dynamics of their respective packs, please check the individual logs for details.

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.

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Recent Logs for Denali:

Denali - Seeking the Prime Resting Spot Photo by Wolf Care Staff

Denali – Seeking The Prime Resting Spot

November 9th, 2017

Denali seemed to take the events surrounding Aidan’s surgery and recovery separation in stride. The only issue was when Grayson tried to keep Denali from reentering the exhibit. There were threat displays, and a brief mounting by Grayson, but they were distracted by deer legs and chickens. Denali did not focus on Aidan, and did not really interact with him. After a few minutes investigating the food, Denali went to the back of the enclosure. Today he has been calm, and resting on the top of the pump housing while it snows.

Denali reflecting on some quiet time

Denali Reflecting On Some Quiet Time

October 12th, 2017

Lately Denali has been in some pack dynamics skirmishes with Grayson and Axel. At times, Grayson will test Denali keeping him away from the front of the enclosure. While this testing  is short lived, Denali tends to not allow Grayson eat during the “What’s For Dinner” program. This behavior was witnessed again this past weekend during the Wolf Photography Workshop. As you can see by the photo, Denali does get some quiet time to explore the enclosure and look for squirrels that come eat seeds from the exotic maples in the enclosure. 

Denali enjoying the pond

Denali – Wading In For A Treat

September 1st, 2017

Denali has enjoyed the summer enrichment that result in ice cubes, beaver tails or other treats in the pond.  Not only does he get the benefit of the treat, but he cools himself as well.  Denali seems to have a tendency to keep his undercoat longer than the other wolves and the larger body size is a bit harder to cool.  We are most grateful for Anika Hahn’s donation of the UV filter to treat the water for algae.  We have had a clean pond all summer and can easily see the bottom level or rocks. This definitely makes Denali’s treat search easier.

Denali Alert and Standing Tall

Denali – Alert And Standing Tall

August 2nd, 2017

This week’s logs were written by the Bio 1476 – Wolf Ethology Students:

Like most of the other wolves, Denali has been taking it easy during the day due to the excessive heat.  He was most active during Saturday’s feeding, where an alliance with Axel was observed.  Denali actively blocked other pack members from the carcass.  The Arctic’s initiated several bouts of testing behaviors with Denali. He showed his dominance by placing his head over Grayson’s neck and attempted a stand over, but Grayson was quick to resist.  It was apparent that there is an alliance between Denali and Axel, which will be interesting to watch as fall becomes winter.   Denali has lost a bit of weight his summer and the loss of his summer coat makes him appear more sleek.  His current weight is 136 pounds. 


Weight: 136

Denali has had some unwanted focus from the yearlings

Denali – Tables Turned

July 17th, 2017

In the past month, we’ve observed the start of some yearling testing that is part of the maturation process with wolves.  To the human’s that have a tendency to support the underdog, it’s important that the wolf care staff step back and analyze before intervening.  Our past experience has taught us that intervening or blocking interactions makes the displays more intense.  The timing of this dominance is a bit earlier than we have previously experienced, typically we don’t see much effort until the cooler days of fall, but Aidan’s more reserved behavior after his surgery may have created a bit of a void in leadership, prompting the yearlings to test.  Why are they testing Denali and not Aidan?  There are probably a lot of reasons; Certainly the bond is stronger with Aidan and the yearlings might be less confident and not willing to engage with Aidan.   If we turn back to the introduction day on August 7th, 2016, you may recall that Denali was the most antagonistic towards the pups.  This could be why the tables are turned.  Things have calmed back down again, but staff are working on multiple contingency plans and distraction techniques to be prepared for the transition from yearlings to adulthood for Grayson and Axel.  We have been through it before, we have experience with Grizzer testing Shadow and Malik, Denali testing Grizzer, Maya suppressing Aidan and on some days, Luna testing all.  The social dynamics and rank order of wolves has a complexity that is important to understand and appreciate as a key component to survival in the wild.