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Photo by: Saranda Oestreicher

Photo by: Saranda Oestreicher

Grayson, along with his littermate Axel, are arctic subspecies of the gray wolf species (Canis lupus) born in captivity at a facility in Canada.  Grayson may be distinguished by his darker coloration specifically in the mid-back or shoulder region. Grayson appears to have a broader skeletal structure. 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. 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.

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 Grayson:

Grayson taking a drink in the pond. Photo by Sheri Kreager

Grayson- Taking A Break At The Pond

October 5th, 2018

Written by Brenda Loeb and Sheri Kreager participants in the Wolf Photography weekend in early October. 

Here is Grayson taking a break at the pond, he can usually be found in the presence of his brother Axel, doing laps through and around the enclosure.  It is fun to watch him interact with the rest of the pack.  He remains submissive to Denali and Boltz, it will be interesting to see if he steps up as the pack leader in the future.

Grayson is spending time near the retired area listening and responding

Grayson – Strongest Bonds – Most Difficult Time

August 9th, 2018

In the transition of Aidan into retirement, Grayson seems to have the most significant impact to his behavior.  Even prior to retirement, Grayson would display some lone howls towards staff at the start of wolf care.  He is a very vocal wolf, but lately, the howling seems to continue into the mid-morning.  It is low throated in tone and no other wolf responds;  Whatever he is communicating, the other wolves don’t seem stimulated to reply.  The other behavioral changes include a bit more timid behavior about feeding, interactions with the rest of the pack and even his ability to compete for the daily meatball vitamins.  Staff are spending more time with him and have added 4 supplemental feedings a week to boost Grayson’s body weight and provide more motivation to compete.  Of course, staff need to find a distraction and even fifteen minutes of holding for Denali to accomplish this goal.  It is week two of this action, and things are getting better.  In our past experience, wolves that have the strongest bonds often have the most difficult time with change and loss of a that social companion.  

Weight: 91

Grayson – Bonding Brothers

July 24th, 2018

Earlier this winter we had some concerns about Grayson being too attached to Aidan to make a change in pack leadership.  This concern has diminished as Grayson is getting a significant amount of social reassurance from his litter mate, Axel.  There is no doubt, these two still spend a fair amount of time wrestling, pinning, squashing and jaw sparring like they did when they were pups, but we have many observations where Grayson seeks out Axel and even uses him as a pillow. 

Grayson allowed to approach Aidan

Grayson – Tail Tells It All

June 7th, 2018

As you can see by this photo, Aidan is back in the mix, although his confidence is still impacted.  He’s less likely to be in a leadership role, but he can still control the carcass.  There is a clear difference between Grayson and Axel’s relationship with Aidan and the tail postures in this photo tells it all.  Axel on the right side of Aidan, has his tail tucked in what we term a T-4 tail posture (thanks to Wolf Park’s Ethogram for these terms), which is much more of a fear response.  Grayson who is approaching Aidan from the left, has his tail in a T=3.5 response, which means, it is relaxed, but touching the haunches in a bit more intimidation. The tolerance shown in the tails is representative of the social bond that is strong between Grayson and Aidan.  Grayson is frequently observed resting with Aidan and clearly still has respect for Aidan, even though he displays very few dominant behaviors other than during food possession.  Another Grayson behavior is his tendency to howl when there’s a bit of unstable energy in the pack structure.  Wolf care always know when there’s been some overnight strife, Grayson does a low-throated, lone howl to the wolf care staff at the gate.  Grayson does not d0 well with conflict and definitely seeks out Aidan for comfort.  We also had some tree damage in a recent storm, calling in a tree felling service that needed to climb and drop trees to avoid fence damage.  Grayson was the only pack member to bark a threat display to the chainsaw operator; that used to be Aidan’s job and before that, Shadow’s job.  One of our colleague’s recently commented…”It feels to me that he has been “interning” with Aidan.  

We recently reviewed a publication entitled The influence of social relationship on food tolerance, in wolves and dogs.  This research was conducted at the Wolf Science Center,  in Vienna, Austria and was published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (2017) 71:107.  Authors, Rachel Dale,  Friederike Range, Laura Stott , Kurt Kotrschal and Sarah Marshall-Pescini summarized that …”It is logical that animals should choose to co-feed with partners who are most likely to show tolerance, than a less close affiliate, who may challenge you or incite conflict… but it seems that their decision about whether or not to share at all was based on the affiliative relationship, as those with a higher affiliation score were more likely to peacefully share.” This is a pattern we see with the Center’s Exhibit Pack. 

Weight: 90

Grayson after feeding on a carcass

Grayson – Carcass Time

May 16th, 2018

As I wrote in Denali’s log, Grayson has to wait to eat on some Saturday night feedings due to Denali’s tendency to guard and possess food.  Staff always document the time spent on the carcass by each wolf and an overall assessment of food consumption is best identified by the size and coloration of the scat on the days post-feeding, not to mention a full belly of a species that has stomach receptors allowing for a gorging of up to 20% of their body weight.  Although, for the white wolves, a look at their face can reveal at least a presence on the carcass as shown by Grayson’s picture.   Grayson is a special case for us, he seems to have a different immune system than Axel.  In his short two years, we have had several reoccurring issues of parasites that have been a challenge to treat.  We are glad to report that have 3 negative fecals in the last month and we will continue to check for the next month to make sure he stays parasite free.   With Grayson’s parasite issues and the behavioral challenges with Denali, monitoring weight is a big issue.  Typically wolves lose weight over the winter, but combine that with the competition of parasites and it becomes more concerning.  We are happy to report that Grayson is back on track and aided by additional feedings of chicken and beef that is part of Luna and Grizzer’s daily routine.

Date Wolf Weight in Pounds Change in weights Age
10/2/2017 Grayson 94.8 4.4 17 months
11/2/2017 Grayson 89.8 -5 18 months
12/2/2017 Grayson 87 -2.8 19 months
12/31/2017 Grayson 84.6 -2.4 20 months
2/2/2018 Grayson 82 -2.6 21 Months
3/2/2018 Grayson 84 2 22 Months
4/2/2018 Grayson 86.3 2.3 23 Months 
4/30/2018 Grayson 89.4 3.1 24 months

Weight: 89.4