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Luna

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.

If you are interested in sponsoring Luna, please click here.

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Recent Logs for Luna:

Luna alert in the den - Photo by Katelyn Schwab

Luna – Healing, But Watching For Decline

August 7th, 2019

With a prognosis of a Spindle Cell Sarcoma, we know that our time with Luna is limited.  The fact is, most canines don’t live long enough in comparisons to their humans.  But, we are realistic that changes can happen quickly, so we need to make each day important for her interactions. Our goal for Luna is to heal the incision, get her on a comfortable routine of feeding, social visits and taking medications to make her comfortable and reunite her with her retired pack mates.  We use the canine stress dictionary to help staff define her behavior.  We have definitely witnessed an increase in displacement behaviors, like branch-chewing and know that stress can impact healing. The photo for the log was taken by Katelyn Schwab, who was assisting in the lab monitoring Luna’s behavior to some ongoing work in the wolf yard. 

Luna- Situational Awareness

July 28th, 2019

When working with a wolf that has such a challenging diagnosis, staff must be extremely diligent and be aware of every movement, behavioral actions, change in attitude, feeding preferences and assessment of discomfort and pain.  Staff need to employ a significant amount of creativity to make sure she gets the necessary medications.  She continues to receive two different types of antibiotics, some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication.  The incision has been challenging as the mass continues to cause her irritation and she’s scratched open a portion of the outer sutures.  The inner sutures are holding and staff are using topical treatments to keep the incision dry and encourage healing.  We have moved her back into the Pack Holding Area and given her access to the Wolf Care Center, but the negative conditioning associated with the surgery recovery has left her reluctant to  come into the building.  Staff left one of her favorite fleece blankets in the building to entice her, but, she chose to move the blanket outside and sleep in the vestibule or her favorite spot is in the den.   A Youtube showing her behavioral activity will be posted later this week and we will connect with Luna as part of our August 14th, Positive Conditioning Webinar. We will definitely need some positive conditioning to overcome Luna’s avoidance from all the medications and procedures surrounding this diagnosis.

Weight: 110

Luna 4 days after Surgery Photo by Nancy Ensley

Luna – Initial Biopsy Report

July 23rd, 2019

The initial results indicate a spindle cell sarcoma that has a deep root behind her left shoulder blade.  We are waiting for the full biopsy  to understand the full nature of this sarcoma.  Please trust that we are working diligently to get her the medication to help her heal from the surgery and be comfortable as we continue to assess and monitor progression.   Our August 14th Wolf Care Webinar will have more details. 

Luna Continues To Be Closely Monitored For Any New Growths

July 15th, 2019

After Luna’s mass removal this winter, she recovered well. Her hair grew back around the incision and the site healed without issues. However, on Saturday, July 6, staff again noticed some irritation and weeping, which was the same issue we saw in February.  

This time, the weeping was below her original incision. The Ely Vet Clinic consulted with the pathologist who assessed the first mass and suggested a week of antibiotics. If it was an infection, the site should show an improvement from the treatment. If we saw no results, we should perform a second biopsy.   Staff followed the plan and felt the need to complete the biopsy. Luna was taken to the Ely Vet clinic at 7:30 a.m. on July 17. Unfortunately, the medical exam of Luna did not have a good outcome. 

She has several deep, vascular masses embedded in the muscle. Much of the mass had necrotic tissue that was extracted from her neck but the depth, amount of vascular bleeding and adherence to the underlying muscle resulted in a decision to biopsy samples, suture the site and make her as comfortable as possible without complete extraction that could have impacted her neck and leg muscles.  

A tissue biopsy was sent into the lab and we expect results in the next week. Luna spent the night in the Wolf Care Center with access to the outdoor facility, but a series of intense storms kept her sleeping comfortably on several fleece blankets through the night. She will remain in the East Side Retirement area sharing a fence line with Aidan and Grizzer, but will need time to heal before the determination is made to reunite the Retired Pack. 

Luna Medical Update

March 19th, 2019

Thank you all for the concern and support you have given Luna during this medical situation.  Medical issues are always more challenging when there are so many variables to manage.  When working with captive wolves, we have the issue of immobilization and transport to the vet clinic, ambient temperatures and the influence on thermal regulatory ability after drugging, keeping a wound clean in an outdoor environment, pack social interactions during recovery and the risk of immune challenges caused by the actual medical issue we are treating.  The professionals at the Vet Clinic manage the medical, but it’s the job of the wolf care staff to manage the post-operative care and the social pack dynamics.  It’s been our experience that separation from the pack can lead to some posturing and rank issues upon a wolf’s return to the social structure.  Fortunately for Luna, Aidan and Grizzer have been very respectful of her and have shown no focus on her sutures.   In the posted photo, the suture site is visible on the left side of her neck. While Luna is showing some scratching at the incision site, she appears to be scratching the hair above the site, and not at the suture level.  Since a protective cone is not an option, we closely monitor her actions and offer distractions.  We have arranged the schedule to have more wolf care staff and volunteers to be in the wolf lab, including full-day coverage last weekend and this upcoming weekend.      She also had her nails trimmed at the vet clinic to reduce a toenail catching a stitch.  This is a long process of healing; It is standard protocol for dissolvable sutures to be used, eliminating a second immobilization to remove sutures.  We expect the sutures to completely dissolve in 3-5 weeks.  The results of the biopsy came back today and we are happy to report that it is not a malignant tumor.  Unfortunately, they don’t know for sure what it is and are doing more test on it to see if they can figure it out.  There are two possibilities, one is that it was an abscess that had gone bad despite the antibiotics, the second is that it may have been from a hematoma.  Since it was on her scruff, maybe she was bitten (scruff biting is very common, especially this time of the year and with food possession issues) but the bite wasn’t enough to break the skin and it bled under the skin.  If it opened from scratching, bacteria may have gotten in there and grew from there.  The suture site remains very clean and shows no redness.  She completes her antibiotics today, one week post-surgery.   Luna also has a long history of Vitamin D, Ionized calcium issues and her last blood work in 2018 showed some higher than normal Lymes titers which indicated that she may have been exposed to Lymes disease.  All of these tests require some time, but I hope to be able to share some results during her birthday webinar.  The true test of Luna’s recovery is her willingness to take her morning breakfast and her social interactions with Aidan. We captured some footage of her playbowing to Aidan on the surveillance cameras on Sunday and again tonight and have invited some long-time friends to come and visit (thanks Don).  If you want to get a live view of Luna’s activity, follow this link to register for Luna’s Birthday Webinar on  March 25th at 5 pm.