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lakotaLakota, a Great Plains subspecies of the gray wolf, was born April 28, 1993 and was the omega female to her sister MacKenzie since they were pups. When MacKenzie died on May, 21, 2008, she became the sole surviving member of the Retired Pack. To help her with the separation anxiety that she experienced with MacKenzie’s loss, Lakota was given access to the pack holding area for face to face contact with the Exhibit Pack, supervised visits to the wolf yard and lab, as well as visits from Wolf Care Staff and the Curator’s dog Jake. This eased the transition for her loss, and all of these efforts made her comfortable for the rest of her life.  Lakota was euthanized on November 7th, 2008.  In the last few days of her life, she stopped taking  her medication,  stopped eating any food and frequently went to the far side of the wooded enclosure to rest under some dense cover.  These are typical signs of older animals that have reached their time.  Lakota’s personality was inquisitive, engaging with others socially, and left fond memories of her final months as a wolf that was free to roam in the wolf lab.

For those of you who would like to honor Lakota or any of the “Gone But Not Forgotten” ambassador wolves, please consider a gift to the Wolf Care Fund in their memory. This fund goes directly to the continued care of current and future wolf pack mates.

Recent Logs for Lakota:

Lakota – Nov 10, 2008 12:00 AM

November 10th, 2008

This will be Lakota’s last posting before she joins the others in the Gone But Not Forgotten pack. She was a pup who knew how to possess food, and this trait continued throughout her life. I thought I would write the most notable behaviors that come to mind when we think of Lakota. She was the omega or lowest ranking pack member and maintained this pack status throughout her entire life. This didn’t mean she was down and out, just that she served an important role at the bottom of the pack rank. She was often the instigator of dominance chases, with the pack close on her tail. She was also an efficient excavator, creating most of the den holes in the enclosures. The area for the new pond in the Retired Enclosure was primarily dug by Lakota, the staff just shaped it as a pond. The most notable was the last 6 months of management, when we gave her free reign of the wolf yard and lab. Having Lakota in the wolf lab did have its management issues; she became quite fond of taking items from the lab and running back into the Retired enclosure. Her list of larceny items included: pillows, backpacks, water bottles, bags of dog toys, sweatshirts, pizza’s, a block of cheese, compass, stuffed moose and a bag of grass seed, just to name a few. Her role as the instigator of chases did not diminish as the sole pack member, now, it was the wolf care staff chasing her to retrieve the many items she took. It appeared that this was the most enjoyable part of the interaction for Lakota. Lakota was the instigator of many things, and taught us that the bottom of the rank order is just as important as the top. The wolf lab will never be the same without her. I posted a video on YouTube as a tribute to the job she did as an ambassador wolf, to see the video, follow this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIRNpz9IEUU

Lakota – Nov 7, 2008 12:00 AM

November 7th, 2008

I am sorry to say that Lakota, our last remaining member of the 1993 litter, was euthanized today at 3:30pm. She lived an incredible life as an ambassador wolf for the International Wolf Center. At 15 1/2 years of age, her metabolic system had started to show signs of decline. This was a fairly fast onset of decline, as you can see from the weblogs that she was still up and active as of the last posting on November 3rd; however, 15 1/2 years is old. In the last few days, she stopped taking her medication and stopped eating any food. When wolf care staff came in for wolf care this morning, she got up, came to the wolf yard and entered the lab (we leave the door open so she can come and go as she pleases), then went to the back side of the new retired enclosure area and laid down in the wooded portion. She was unwilling to get up, showing some intense shaking and muscle spasms. Staff covered her with a sleeping bag, and were able to deliver her anti-inflammatory medication, giving her some relief. After some time, she willingly got up and moved to the den box. It’s not uncommon for animals to retreat to places away from people before they die. This same behavior was noted on Thursday afternoon, but again, staff worked diligently to get her up and into the den box. A consultation with Dr. Hanson, our veterinarian, led to the assessment that her system was shutting down, and while the anti-inflammatory provided some relief, her condition was declining. All of the Ely staff were able to spend time with her in her final hours. While it is sad to lose such an important part of our wolf care program, it is comforting to know that Lakota had a great life and was a vital part of our educational mission.

Lakota – Nov 3, 2008 12:00 AM

November 3rd, 2008

Lakota’s been having a lot of raven activity in the Retired enclosure lately. The ravens show no fear of Lakota and actively try to get her food left in her den box each morning. She’s been observed chasing them away, but they don’t take her too seriously. Lakota continues to get excited about her wolf yard time and her lab time. As the weather cools, we will be working on giving her time in the lab with the door closed. We can’t continue to prop the door open for her to come in and out when the temperatures dip below zero.

Lakota – Oct 27, 2008 12:00 AM

October 27th, 2008

There was another work crew this weekend, adding upper overhanging wire on the new enclosure fence, and adding panels to increase the fence heights of the existing enclosure. This required Lakota to stay in the pack holding area all day, as VCC student volunteers worked in her enclosure. She did well, lying in the straw in the holding area, occasionally getting up to watch the students. After the work was done, she spent quite a while sniffing where everyone had been. I really want to reiterate how important the Workin’ for Wolves program was this fall. The work completed by this weekend program, truly made a difference in Lakota’s life. The additional space and stimulus of the new area keeps her alert and active. In addition to the daily wolf yard and lab visits, she is very mobile. One of the wolf care staff brought her a grouse on Friday; she was excited to carry it around the enclosures, running the fence line with the Exhibit Pack, and later took it to the back of her enclosure and plucked it. This kind of stimulus will keep her young.

Lakota – Oct 20, 2008 12:00 AM

October 20th, 2008

Lakota has started to use her new rock den. She actually started last Monday, right after I noted in the logs that she hadn't been using it. She is tolerating the cooler mornings well, and has been eating twice a day, at least 2 – 3 pounds per serving. She is in the lab as I write this, trying to check out her morning meal on the counter. Staff have observed her in a howling bout with the pack several times, even though her vocal chords produce no sound, she still goes through the motions. Wolf care staff and student volunteers installed concrete slabs under the gates to reduce the risk of Lakota digging out. This allows her more freedom in the wolf yard, without constant supervision.