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LunaWe acquired Luna in April of 2012 as a 20 day old pup.  Shortly after her arrival, we noticed that she had some mobility issues.  After she suffered an injury from what should have been an non-event for a healthy pup, we discovered that she had a bone density issue that may be related to a vitamin D deficiency. She had surgery to repair her injury at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital at a month of age and started nutritional supplements specially designed for her needs.  To this day, she takes daily supplements for this deficiency.

Luna is representative of the Great Plains subspecies and is a black color phase, which is believed to be found in less than 5% of the population in Minnesota. Luna was introduced to the Exhibit Pack in July of 2012 and spent 4 years as the dominant (and only) female in the Exhibit Pack.  She had an intensity that was heightened during the weekly carcass feedings, but also when she showed vulnerability within the pack.  When the 2016 pups were adopted, we noticed Luna’s intensity increase and were concerned about potential defensive behavior towards the pups.  After consultation with the Center’s veterinarian, it was decided to transition Luna out of the Exhibit pack giving time to  assess Luna’s physical limitations and determine if there may be underlying issues causing her defensive behavior.  She is currently receiving additional care and feeding protocols in retirement and just recently joined our other retired wolf, Grizzer.  They both have access to the 3 enclosures including the “East Side Retirement”, the “Back Habitat” and the “Pack Holding Area”.  There is a webcam currently focused on the Pack Holding Area that closest to the wolf yard and the center of activity on site.

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 Luna:

Luna – A Posture Showing Relaxation

February 6th, 2019

Luna’s expressions give a good indication of her overall attitude.  Here she is displaying a “Roll on Back” behavior.  This is definitely a “I feel good” attitude.  She has been having a good winter.  With the generous donation of cover hay from Connie and Nick LaFond, we are able to provide  deep layers of cover hay between each snowfall. This is very comforting for Luna and definitely improves her attitude.  After Aidan’s return from surgery, she did have a few moments of posturing, but Aidan took it in stride and Luna gave him his space.  Staff did note a very low throat-ed loan howl from Luna while Aidan was resting in a nearby bed of hay. It was certainly out of character for Luna who usually has high pitched rally howls, but even a short separation of a social pack mate can have an impact.

Luna - Foreleg stab to Aidan

Luna – Obnoxious Submission

January 2nd, 2019

Since Aidan’s retirement, Luna has definitely been returning to her own form of social bonding, otherwise known as “Obnoxious Submission”.  We need to credit our colleagues at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana, for introducing this term through their Ethogram publication.  We credit Luna for animating this behavior.  In this photo, you will see her display a foreleg stab to Aidan’s face, often followed by several lunges towards him before rolling over to submit.  Aidan takes it in stride, since this is the pair-bonding method Luna chose to display when they shared leadership in the Exhibit Pack from 2012 – 2016.  Having these two wolves reunited in retirement has increased both of their activity levels, making them more mobile as winter arrives.

Luna – Invite Chase

November 9th, 2018

As we posted in Luna’s last log, she is fed in her own area and receives bodywork daily from staff.  To make this happen smoothly, we need a lot of staff trained in procedures and staff have to be consistent so Luna knows what to expect.  Wolves tend to be “neo-phobic”, displaying a fear of new things and this can even equate to new or different procedures.  One of the most important components of the training is helping people develop the skills to identify body posture, facial expressions and circumstances that indicates a wolf’s attitude, energy and behavioral  interactions.  Wolves can be influenced by many internal pack issues as well as external environmental issues such as weather and activities around the enclosure.  Luna has started to increase behaviors as winter approaches and she is a great teacher for the staff to learn to interpret and anticipate behaviors. Her most common activity is trying to get Aidan to chase her.  She gets a certain look on her face, her ears go sideways, she drops to the ground with her front leg and springs into action.  A trained wolf care staff member needs to recognize the first signs of this behavior to make sure they are not in the way of the end result, which is usually three retired wolves doing a loop throughout the three enclosures. 

Luna's diet and body work is paying off

Luna – Seeing The Effects

August 9th, 2018

To manage Aidan and Luna in the same space, we need to separate Luna in a vestibule for her morning breakfast and keep her there long enough until Aidan and Grizzer have finished their larger meals.  Luna is still on a reduced diet to meet the goal of 100 pounds before winter and we are seeing the effect that the weight loss has had on her mobility.  She is far more active and showing less instability in her back right leg.  The other benefit of Luna needing to wait in holding until the other retirees are done with their breakfast is that staff get the opportunity to do some body work on Luna in the smaller vestibule.  She is less distracted and more willing to sit for longer sessions.  Staff are also seeing the effects of this extra work;  She is building muscle mass and her tail has more freedom of movement.  When we had our first consultation with a Practitioner about Luna she had significant concerns about her sacrum (tailbone) being locked down;  Without  spending any time with Luna she said “having her tail locked down like that is not only painful, it keeps her nervous system stuck in “alarm” mode.  With her hip weakness, she may display defensive aggression because she is not stable’.  To those of you who knew Luna as a pup and throughout her time in the Exhibit Pack, this statement is spot on.  So, the more body work we can do to relieve the tension of her sacrum, the better for Luna and those who live with her.  

Luna – In The Mist Zone

July 24th, 2018

Luna’s most common resting spot is in the cool soil near the Exhibit Pack misting system.  We manage the vegetation to provide a significant amount of shade to add to the cool soil and that makes a comfortable spot for a dark color phased wolf that absorbs heat quickly.  We don’t know what Luna’s reaction will be to Aidan’s appearance in an adjacent enclosure.  As with all of our retirement plans, wolves will share a fence line to look at compatibility issues before a reunion is planned.  We know Luna’s medical assessment and too much activity could have a negative impact on the progress we have made with her over the past two years. Luna’s not the best judge of moderation in food possession or heightened play bows and chase scenes with pack mates.