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Photo by: Saranda Oestreicher

Photo by: Saranda Oestreicher

Grayson, along with his littermate Axel, are arctic subspecies of the gray wolf species (Canis lupus) born in captivity at a facility in Canada.  Grayson may be distinguished by his darker coloration specifically in the mid-back or shoulder region. Grayson appears to have a broader skeletal structure. 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. 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.

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Recent Logs for Grayson:

Grayson has an intensity in most interactions, social, predatory and now in defensive howling.

Grayson – What Does It Mean?

April 15th, 2018

To summarize Grizzer’s log, we have a recurring issue where Grizzer bark howls in a threat display towards our Veterinarian.  This is due to an incident that occurred over 10 years ago.  In a recent Vet visit for Aidan, when Grizzer started barkhowling, the only member of the Exhibit Pack to respond was Grayson, and not just respond as in a juvenile following along.  Grayson intensely howled towards Grizzer and moved towards the threat while Axel, Denali and Boltz continued to feed on a carcass.  Aidan was watching Grayson, but did not participate in the howling.  I posted the video on last week’s YouTube if you would like to view it.  What does it mean?  For anyone who has been associated with our ambassador wolves over the years, you may recall the power of the bark howl that has primarily come from our pack leaders.  Shadow, the dominant male of the Exhibit Pack from 2002-2010, was the most intense whenever any unfamiliar person was in the yard.  Earlier this winter we filmed Aidan in an intense bark howl when we separated the pack to do some snow removal.  As the dominant male since 2011, Aidan was the one who would respond to the threats in the wolf yard.  Is the pack telling us there is a new wolf on watch?  Is it just Grayson’s more overall personality to be more wary or is there more to it.  We don’t have an answer for that, but will see how the year progresses and no doubt, the addition of the 2020 pups will be an influence.  For now we watch and record data.  Another interesting observation is the fact that Grayson continues to use bark howling to address wolf like situations.  The other day, Luna and Grizzer’s wrestling and growling vocalization started to increase.  Grayson immediately ran to the fence line and let out a series of quick half barks and a bark howl which typically serves as a warning.  Luna and Grizzer immediately stopped and ran to the fenceline to see who just dispensed some boundaries.  Grizzer looked with a bit of a social gaze, Luna a bit more stern in her gaze. Could a maturing juvenile have influence over Luna?

Weight: 86.3

Grayson – The Observer

March 27th, 2018

From the earliest moments that Grayson arrived at the Center we noticed that he seemed to be always watching and taking in all activities around him. This continues to be the behavior he exhibits most. In the past week, Grayson has spent time observing Axel, following and testing Denali, then watching Aidan observing Axel and Denali. He continues to vocalize quite a bit as tensions increased between Axel, Denali, and Boltz.  The most important observation staff have recorded is that he continues to rest with Aidan, and seems to still see Aidan as his pack leader.  The reality is that Aidan, while not asserting leadership, has a mere presence that implies leadership in the mind of Grayson, Denali and even in Aidan’s own actions.  It is critical that we acknowledge the psychological impact of retiring a pack leader. 

Grayson more alert to the pack and the tension

Grayson – Adapting To Changes

March 18th, 2018

Grayson is in tune with the pack focus when it is directed toward Aidan.  He often does a low throated howl directed towards the pack or if wolf care are in the enclosure, directed right at the wolf care staff.  This communication is not the higher pitched rallying howls, but seems to be stress induced .  We know this winter has been hard for Grayson; Aidan was the one that calmed his anxiety in the weeks following the introduction, intervened on his behalf when the winter dominance increased and would share his food resources when Denali wouldn’t let Grayson near the carcass.  All of this has changed and Grayson needs to adapt to the changes.  He is very similar in personality to Aidan when he was an omega yearling and we all know how that situation changed.  We are focusing on keeping Grayson healthy, building his food resources and monitoring times when he is most anxious with a distraction for not only Grayson, but the pack as well. 

Grayson is often at the windows watching the visitors

Grayson- Conducting His Own Behavioral Observations

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.  Grayson is very keen on activities in the building and when we have a photographic session or behavioral observation, he seems to be conducting his own behavioral studies.  He is especially keyed in to the presence of youthful exuberance (i.e. young kids running) which likely triggers the predatory drive.  Grayson had another positive fecal for roundworms, so he received a treatment as well as the pack to reduce any risk of reinfection.  We will test him again in the upcoming weeks to make sure the treatment was effective.  It does seem that he might have a weaker immune system or may be associated with his underlying stress of the pack dynamics this winter since he seems to have had more issues than Axel even when they were pups.  There is no doubt that Grayson reacts to things with more intrepidation.  We did weigh Grayson on March 2nd and he had slightly increased in weight from 82 pounds at the beginning of the year to 84 pounds.  Of course, wolf weights fluctuate significantly with the fact that they can eat 20% of their body weight while gorging on a carcass, but we still want to get Grayson as many food resources as possible.  Until further notice, staff have been instructed to continue to feed Grayson any chance they get, the problem is, Denali thinks the instructions apply to him. 

Weight: 84

Grayson showing the true inspiration of the Center's triangle window design

Grayson – Ears Pricked Forward

February 23rd, 2018

Grayson has been displaying an increased focus on all pack members, but particularly Denali.  At this point, it’s still difficult to determine who will resume leadership in the future, but if keen observations are a skill, Grayson definitely excels, it’s good thing he has such a strong bond with Aidan.  If there was a weak social bond between Aidan and Grayson, I wonder if Aidan’s membership in the pack may be different.  I am particularly fond of this photo because it shows his peaked interest and and a depth of expression in his eyes.  We will be weighing the arctic yearlings on March 2nd to see if we made some progress with the daily feedings.