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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 showing a relaxed, but focused posture

Aidan – Another Surgery

March 13th, 2019

If you have been following our Ambassador Wolf Aidan’s logs, you will see that he has had some auto-immune issues throughout his entire life.  He was diagnosed with Discoid lupus in 2011, had two surgeries to remove mass cell tumors in 2017.  He was deposed as Exhibit Pack leader in 2018 and joined retirement, so we thought some of the stress of being a pack leader may have been reduced, but he had a resurgence of mass cell tumors with an extraction surgery performed on February 5th, 2019.    The assessment of these tumors in 2017 was estimated to be low-grade, with complete tumor extraction.  The prognosis was not as good in February, when complete extraction was not possible as the growth had adhered to the muscle.  Research on these types of growths is limited and in some cases, 3 or 4 removals and the growths stop, in other cases, removal doesn’t impact the outcome.  In Aidan’s case, after the 3rd extraction, the veterinary recommendation is to employ some immune suppressants to slow the growth of these mass cells.  We are waiting for his incision to completely heal before implementing this, as immune suppressants can also alter healing efforts.  There were some notable differences in the 2019 surgery as a retired pack member compared to his immobilization in 2017 when he was a pack leader. As a pack leader, Aidan seemed to resist the drugging and had high anxiety just being separated from the pack to complete the drugging.  This often lead to increased doses and in one case, a failed immobilization.  As a retired wolf, Aidan readily came into the Wolf Care Center at 7 am, was hand injected within 2 minutes, asleep and on his way to the clinic in 15 minutes and calmly recovered with the wolf care staff with no anxiety.  The Retired Pack is less concerned about rank, so Aidan was able to join Luna and Grizzer by 2 pm that afternoon and had a restful evening.  Even though we know exams like these can be done with more ease in retirement, we are also mindful that the older an animal gets, the more risk can occur.  Wolves are not dogs, where a trip to the clinic is as easy as hopping in the car and getting a treat to sit on an exam table.  These exams are done with a heightened level of concern for the wolf’s respiration, heart rate, gastrointestinal response and ability to control body temperature.  A common instruction for a surgical procedure is to hold food after midnight prior to a surgery, as wolf care staff, we diligently look for food caches. but there is never 100% guarantee that they won’t pull something out of a snowbank.   Mass cells are histamine based cells, so they may cause an itching sensation.  This was the most problematic issue for Aidan resulting in constant licking and irritation.  While we are waiting for him to heal for his next medical step, he is taking antihistamines daily to help keep the irritation under control and welcomes wolf care staff daily inspections. 

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.