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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:

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.  

Boltz using the rocks as he tries to ambush. Photo by Craig Johnson

Boltz- Waiting To Ambush

October 5th, 2018

This log was written by Bill Brandon, participants in the October Wolf Photography Weekend.  Photography donated by Craig Johnson.

We found Boltz to be somewhat of a sneaky fellow.  Occasionally, he instigated play with his pack mates; other times he appeared to “hang back” and just observe the behaviors of others.  Then, when he felt the time was right, he would pounce and join the interaction of the others in the pack.

Boltz on the offensive

Boltz- New Found Freedoms

August 9th, 2018

Even though Aidan had been less involved in the Exhibit pack activities in the last few months, we knew his removal from the pack would change the dynamics in the Exhibit.  Initially, we thought Denali, as a sibling to Aidan, would show the most significant response to Aidan’s removal.  We were wrong.  The strongest responses were observed in Grayson, who increased the number of lone howls he displayed and Boltz, who was released from the tension between he and Aidan, making for some very social wolf checks and surprising feeding programs.  In this post, the photo shows Boltz doing a full lunge towards Axel while Denali continues to feed.  This was photographed on the pack’s first feeding after Aidan’s retirement.  In previous feedings, Boltz was always the last to feed, he was timid, more likely to be isolated by himself in the wooded area of the enclosure.  Part of that behavior was due to a phobia of biting, buzzing insects, but part was his experience as a pup.  Of all the wolves at the Center, Boltz has the weakest socialization with staff due to his age when we acquired him.  Although Boltz was bottle-fed and socialized during the neonate stage at his natal facility, he did not have the full 24-hour a day human experience that is standard protocol at the Center.  Wolf pups have a fear avoidance behavior that can be observed as young as 13 days of age; Acquiring Boltz at 30 days of age definitely shows a stronger avoidance of new or uncertain stimuli. On July 28th, during the What’s for Dinner program, Denali not only let Boltz feed with him, but actively kept Axel and Grayson off the deer.  This new found freedom at the carcass has resulted in Boltz showing more confidence and more willingness for staff interaction. 

Boltz- Safety In The Den

July 24th, 2018

As you can see, Boltz still has some phobias with the summertime buzz of the exhibit.  He is improving, but the others still see his behavior as weak and a source of some dominance targets.  We have several overnight groups that have provided some good information on pack dynamics.  On July 13th, we had a program called “Wolves After Dark”, where people sleep adjacent to the wolf enclosure and have a first hand view of the action. This program was critical to provide insight on pack dynamics as were making plans for Aidan’s medical exam and upcoming retirement.  It is important to have a good assessment of the pack before any major changes occur.  Based on their data sheets, it does appear that Grayson is less dependent on Aidan, making the transition in leadership a little less stressful.  Since most of the tension in the pack is between Boltz, Aidan and Axel,  there should be less intensity that will likely change Boltz’s demeanor. 

Boltz- Forest Dweller

July 2nd, 2018

In the past few weeks, the return of the Minnesota insect season has kept Boltz as a forest dweller, spending most of the day in the protective shade of the forest.  This is great for his ears, as he doesn’t have any of the nasty fly bites at the tips of his ears that require a treatment of fly ointment.  It is not so great due to the fact that his self-imposed isolation from the pack results in some unwanted attention upon his return.  Even though the wolves reside within the same enclosure, there is still a psychological component to separations from the social group, even if it’s just for the day.  There’s no doubt this is more challenging for Boltz because he seems to have voluntarily decreased his rank this spring, but anyone in Minnesota knows, summer is a short season and it won’t be long before the leaves are turning and Boltz is back in the action.  If you are a viewer to our Youtube channel, you may have heard about Boltz’s bout of laryngitis.  He has low tones, but he can’t hit the high notes, especially when howling.  The Veterinarians are still researching this,  but it doesn’t seem to have any impact on his food consumption or activity levels.