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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.

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 Aidan:

Aidan – Been Here Before

February 6th, 2019

If you have been following the Exhibit Pack dynamics over the last few years, you know that Aidan had some history with mass cell tumors on his left leg.  He had two previous surgeries to remove a low grade tumor and seemed to be managing well on a treatment of anti-histamines to control its’ return.  Unfortunately, the tumor came back and a second growth a bit higher on shoulder developed quite quickly prompting the Center’s wolf care team to develop and implement a surgical plan.  The photo in this log was taken on January 22nd, and you see only a slight discoloration at the site of the growth.  Approximately one week, later, the growths tripled in size and caused such aggravation that Aidan began obsessively licking them.   Increasing anti-histamines didn’t have an impact, so surgery was scheduled and executed on February 5th.  Aidan did extremely well under immobilization and after a 5-hour recovery time and despite the fact that he had options to access the heated building. he chose to rejoin his Retired Pack outdoors,     The report from the clinic is that the both masses had attached to the muscle meaning complete extraction wasn’t possible and regrowth may occur, although mass cell’s have been known to have a wide array of traits making it difficult to predict.  After Aidan’s sutures heal,  he has been prescribed some immune suppressants to possibly reduce cell growth.  Since stress can impact the immune system, staff are reviewing the signals of canine stress and making every effort possible to reduce any anxiety for Aidan.  We plan to produce a Youtube in the next few days showing some behavioral video that staff interpret when making management decisions.   

Aidan's in response to Luna

Aidan – Tolerance Is Tested

January 2nd, 2019

It has been such a remarkable experience helping Aidan through the transition of being a deposed pack leader to finding a place in the pack dynamics of retirement.  We witnessed an incredible strength in leadership of the Exhibit Pack, and as he lost confidence in that role, we were concerned that he would lose his willingness to socially interact with the pack.  We soon found out that our concerns were unwarranted.  Not only did Aidan reunite with Grizzer and reestablish the social bond they had as Exhibit Pack mates (2008-2011), but Aidan seems to enjoy (well, tolerate) Luna’s chases, foreleg stabs and preemptive screeches as they run throughout the enclosures.  Visitors to the Retired Enclosure and many viewers of our webinar series have commented on how Aidan has regained a youthful appearance, even noting that his coat coloration seems to be more vibrant.  I guess there is truth in the adage that “one is only as old as they feel” and watching Aidan prance around retirement, he must feel like a yearling. 

Aidan – Rest May Be Coming To An End

November 9th, 2018

Aidan spent the first few months in retirement resting in the many dens and shaded spots throughout the retirement areas.  He earned this rest time after leading the Exhibit Pack for 7 of his 10 years of life.  But, as fall progresses into winter, his days of rest may be short-lived.  Fall is the season for wolves activity levels to increase.  Even though Aidan lives in retirement, his packmates still enjoy a good chase around the enclosures.  Luna has been the most likely to stimulate chases, displaying a “play bow” behavior where she springs down on her front legs and lunges away inviting the other wolves to chase.  If Aidan and Grizzer don’t follow through, she stabs at them with her foreleg and even grabs the scruff of their neck encouraging more interaction.  It’s still social interaction, but with a bit of a colder weather intensity.  Aidan wags his tail and joins in the chase, while Grizzer may watch from a safe distance. 

Aidan - reuniting with old companions

Aidan – A Positive Experience

August 9th, 2018

Aidan’s transition to retirement is much smoother than we anticipated.  This may be the best indication that he was ready for the change and ready to accept a lower ranking status.  The first wolf to welcome him into retirement was Grizzer.  The last time Grizzer and Aidan had been together was in 2011, when Aidan was experiencing a lot of dominance from Grizzer’s sister Maya. Based on the interaction we witnessed, Aidan appears to be responding in a subordinate behavior towards Grizzer.  This relationship may change when Aidan gets more acclimated to retirement, but for now, Aidan seems to defer to Grizzer showing no competition for food or space.  The next step in Aidan’s transition is to establish protocol for staff to interact with each individual wolf.  Aidan is still very needy seeking staff attention which can be a challenge for Grizzer to interact.  The design of our retirement facility allows staff to move wolves throughout the 3 specific areas we call retirement and make sure each wolf gets social interaction and a physical assessment on a daily basis. 

This is Shadow, our last Pack Leader with an expression of tolerance for his pack mate, Maya.

Aidan Day 2

July 26th, 2018

Day 2 Update

Aidan had a restful first night of retirement, but by dawn, as the Exhibit Pack started some social interactions, he started to show some anxiety, pawing at the gate towards the activity.  Grayson is coming to the fence line whining and that gets Aidan anxious.  Staff are able to calm Aidan down with distractions, but the challenge with social animals is they want to be social, regardless of the moments of tension that affected their confidence.  Aidan likes a thick layer of wood chips, so I placed a full bag on the den and for now, he is comfortable there. He has been swimming several times in the wading pool in the Pack Holding Area.  When in the Exhibit, he didn’t get much pond time because the stability of getting in and out of the pond made him vulnerable.  He also had a full meal of chicken with his morning meds, we know wolves like to rest after sleeping.  He will be going on a diet similar to Luna, but we won’t start that until he is comfortably settled with the new arrangements.  I am switching the webcams between the East Side Retirement of Luna and Grizzer and the pack holding area (we don’t have enough bandwidth in the lab to do 3 cameras).  If you watch the camera this morning, you may see him as he investigates the area, rests on the wood chips or focuses on the pack.  You may notice some shaved areas on Aidan; he had his belly shaved to get a clear view for the ultrasound, and the vets checked out some other residual growths and skin issues.  His hair will grow back before winter.  The next step in the transition plan is to share a fence line with Luna and Grizzer.  We need to do this carefully, if Aidan has too much anxiety, it can be viewed as a weakness and both Luna and Grizzer can take advantage of him.  The first initial try yesterday resulted in Aidan showing a tucked tail and running from Luna.  We will take this slow; forcing a situation could cause a negative circumstance that could affect a long-term relationship.

The rest of the pack is not focused on Aidan other than some limited activity at the fence line, but it is short-lived.  Denali has had no displays of interest in Aidan, but has been spending his time doing appeasement behavior (licking the sides of Axel’s face) and stimulating play bows and chase behaviors.  Boltz has had the most noticeable change in behaviors, without the tension between he and Aidan, he is socially interacting with the pack, feeding at will and thanks to a cold front, enjoying some cooler weather.