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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.  


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Recent Logs for Axel:

Photo by Katelyn Schwab

Axel – Spring In His Step And His Tail

August 7th, 2019

Axel has been posturing over all of his pack members as the cooler weather is giving us a glimpse of fall conditions.  We are watching this closely, as Denali seems to get the most focus, followed by Grayson.  Boltz will usually try to block Axel from interacting with Denali, but until the summer season ends, the insect phobia is keeping Boltz on the fringe of pack dynamics.  This is likely why Axel has gained so much confidence, but this is Ely, Minnesota, winter is definitely going to be here sooner than later, that’s a factor we can guarantee. 

Axel Continues To Be The Pack’s Most Active Wolf

July 15th, 2019
Axel and Grayson posture about rank, which Wolf Care staff have seen since the two arrived as pups. We don’t think that will ever stop. Axel is typically the most active wolf in the pack and is often the first to check something out, even in the summer heat that has made its way to Ely.
Tadpoles are now present in the pond and Axel seems to enjoy time in the pond with Grayson.   It is easy to identify Axel, he has completely shed his undercoat, and he is usually the arctic wolf doing a ride-up or mount on any pack mate willing to stand for it.  In this photo, notice Grayson’s hackle response from his neck to his tail.  In the Ethogram, we code this as H1234.  

Weight: 101

Axel – Stand Over

February 6th, 2019

In the wolf world, communication is not restricted to howls and growls, there is a significant amount of body language that is used to express intent and in some cases, conflicting messages.  Axel’s photo is a prime example of a body posture called a Stand Over saying “I am asserting my status” and an ear posture that is Pricked and Turned Sideways that says “I’m not so sure I should be doing this”.  Axel is young,  and with youth often comes a strong drive to test those around them, but he lacks the experience to follow-through, which can create some apprehension.  Denali is on the receiving end of this behavior and as a wolf approaching 11 years of age, he’s seen youthful exuberance before and weathered it quite well. 

Axel on Denali

Axel – Ride Up

January 2nd, 2019

In contrast to Grayson’s more timid behavior, Axel is more likely to be on the other end of the spectrum, boldly going wherever he wants.  In this log’s photos, he displays a ride-up behavior on Denali.  Although, if you carefully look at Axel’s ears, they are pricked forward in interest, but turned sideways with a bit of intimidation.  In our Ethogram, we code this as “EPTS”.  This one behavior helps sum up Axel’s personality.  He has a strong desire to actively engage in testing behavior with all pack mates, but gets a bit intimidated when he gets himself in the middle of things.  The other pack members seem to have a lot of tolerance for his behavior, especially Denali.  If there is a wolf that is allowed to share the carcass with Denali, it’s usually Axel.  

Axel displaying an invite chase behavior. Photo by Porsha Kline

Axel – Instigator Of Social Interactions

October 5th, 2018

This log was written by, Christina Wagner, a participant of the Wolf Photography Weekend.

Axel was very playful and initiated play more than the rest of the wolves. There were a couple times that Axel did not back down from more forceful play. He would tuck his tail while striking back at Boltz. During the evening carcass feeding, Axel would taunt Denali in trying to successfully obtain a piece of meat.  He was a very engaging wolf and loved the viewing windows.


This log was written by Porsha Cline, a participant of the Wolf Photography Weekend.

Axel was playful and initiated play with the other wolves.  He would bump into them, as well as display inhibited biting at them.  He would bow down attempting to initiate chase behavior from the other wolves.  He was quite successful at engaging the rest of the pack, and would assume submissive postures when they would engage with him, such as rolling over, lying on his back and submitting to neck pinning.