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BoltzThis male pup was originally nicknamed Bolts for his characteristic of bolting through the wolf yard and open gates to gain access to the shared fence line with Aidan and Denali. He is approximately 8 days older than Luna, so his skills and abilities were more enhanced. A Name the Pup contest suggested a spelling change for his name and it received the most votes out of four choices. Wolf Care Staff were happy with the results since it really fit his personality. Boltz is representative of the Great Plains subspecies, and joined the Exhibit Pack on July 30th, 2012.  Boltz was a pupmate to Luna, the only female of the Exhibit Pack from 2012-2016 and his status in the pack was described as low ranking.  In addition to lack of status, he developed a phobia about summertime insects, particularly wasps, hornets and bees. When he heard something buzzing overhead, he would drop his head and retreat to the wooded portion of the enclosure.  This certainly didn’t help his status.  In 2016, arctic pups, Axel and Grayson were introduced into the Exhibit Pack and this certainly helped Boltz socially.  He had a great bond with the pups and worked in tandem with Axel to test the pack leader Aidan in the fall of 2017 throughout the winter of 2018.  Since his testing of Aidan, he seemed to strive for pack leadership, but seems more comfortable being a middle-ranking wolf.  We certainly wonder how the summer 2018 insect season will impact Boltz’s behavior and status. 

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Recent Logs for Boltz:

Boltz captured a deer leg Popsicle at the noon enrichment. Photo by Katelyn Schwab

Boltz- Changes In Temperature Yield Changes In Attitude

August 7th, 2019

Many across the country are probably ready for fall weather.  Boltz would second that emotion. It has been a hot, buggy summer, but there his hope in the cool night air that extends into the morning wolf checks.  This morning, we had a great visit with Boltz, giving a full body scratch.  There should be a video clip of this in Friday’s  Youtube posting (I am trying to get back to a weekly post). Today, at the Noon Enrichment program, Boltz managed to claim the deer leg Popsicle provided by wolf care staff.  This was a definite change in attitude.  We look forward to the fall season and how Boltz’s lack of concern for flying insects brings his focus back to a place in the male rank order. Thanks to Katelyn Schwab, that was able to find a space at the window during the popular Noon Enrichment program and capture this photo. 

Is it October yet?

Summer Bugs Continue Impacting The Behavior Of Boltz

July 15th, 2019

Boltz has lost much of his winter confidence as summer bug season has arrived.  Wolf care staff are working on ways to desensitize him to flying insects – often using flavored bubbles – but in the high temps of the last few weeks it has been a challenge to keep him visible and interacting with the rest of the pack.  We started leaving the medical pen open 24 hours a day.  This area is well shaded, has a concrete pad that will remain cool and is adjacent to the water hoses and misting system.  The Curator has a ring camera that connects to her phone and she can track Boltz’s midnight rendevous in the medical pen. 

Boltz – Pelage Blends With The Habitat

March 13th, 2019

There are many unique communication methods employed by wolves.  Tail postures, eye contact, howling, scent marking are the most notable.  But, if you take a moment to look at a wolf’s markings or pelage, you specific parts of the wolf may have a color pattern to aid in communication.  Let’s start with the eyes.  Direct eye stare is a sign of a challenge in wolf communication and we know that ears pricked forward signal a heightened level of arousal and a curl of the lip above the teeth can put the exclamation point on a message of dominance.  If you look closely, you may see the black lips that contrast a white muzzle and a dark rim around the tips of the ears.  A dark tip on the tail is a great way highlight a high tail posture of a dominant wolf.  How about submissive wolf?  Well, when a wolf submits, it exposes a white, pale chest and a white underbelly that may help notice as submissive posture.  Finally, have you every noticed a wolf’s hackles?  The dark coloration on the shoulder and rump are more noticeable when the hackles rise.  Nature is amazing, and so is the effectiveness of camouflage for blending into a background.  Do you notice Boltz’s ability to blend in with his forested habitat?

Boltz – Reactive Influence

February 6th, 2019

While staff were carrying Aidan on the stretcher back into the Wolf Care Center, we noticed Boltz observing from the Exhibit fence-line.   Wolves watching activity is not uncommon, the whole pack was there watching, but body postures of the individuals was interesting.  Denali was his typical, “tail wagging, what are staff up to, maybe there’s food” self.  There doesn’t seem to be much that phases that wolf , which is why he is now the oldest pack member we have managed in the Exhibit Pack in our 30-year history of wolf care.  Grayson was whining and was later observed sleeping along the retired wolf fence-line.  This also wasn’t surprising given the strong bond that existed between Grayson and Aidan (which seems to still exist today).  Axel was trying to posture over Denali and Boltz while they were focused on the wolf yard which is common for Axel.  The most interesting observation was Boltz, who was standing at the fenceline with hackles from his neck to his back and a T-2 tail posture.  This straight back tail posture tends to be more of an intense action tail posture, unlike the arousal over the back or the down low wagging of a subordinate.  A T-2 tails seems to have more of a predatory drive.  In our interpretation, Boltz, who was directly involved in Aidan’s loss of status as a pack leader, seemed to be displaying a response posture towards Aidan.  But, the behavior didn’t end after Aidan came into the building, wolf care staff sent out the following notice about a wolf check a few hours later “…Boltz was quite proactive towards the others as far as his assertiveness. Boltz began snarling and charging at Denali and Axel. Grayson had then come over to Boltz where Boltz and Grayson went back and forth for a minute or two. After Boltz continued to try and chase Denali and Axel away, Denali went back to the pump housing and laid down. After Boltz and Grayson ended their interaction of growling, snarling and charging each other, Boltz went over to the pump housing and laid down with Denali.”   When doing wolf care, it’s always important to read behaviors and trace back events that might have influenced interactions.  Aidan’s presence in such a vulnerable position may have reinforced Boltz’s confidence that he had gained when deposing Aidan as the Exhibit Pack leader. 

Axel responding to Boltz

Boltz – Power Of Direct Eye Contact

January 2nd, 2019

Boltz is probably one of the more expressive wolves in terms of facial expressions.  The most powerful expression that will elicit a response from the packmates is the direct eye stare.  In this post’s photo, he stops a confrontation with Axel causing him to avert his gaze.  These kind of non-physical interactions are great ways for social packmates to understand the limits and tolerances of behaviors, especially from exuberant two year old wolves.