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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 – 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. 

Luna – Afternoon Rest

July 2nd, 2018

Luna and Grizzer have been reaping the benefits of a summer adjacent to the upgraded misting system installed in the Exhibit Pack during the Spring Working for Wolves program.  Luna has selected the den site (a fall Working for Wolves program in the pack holding area as her main resting spot on a hot, humid day.  Unfortunately for Northern Minnesota, heat and humidity seems to be the common theme this summer.  The younger the age and the lighter the coloration of the guard hairs, the less problem with the heat, which means, Axel and Grayson are chasing and wrestling with each other while the rest of the ambassadors are taking it easy.  The age and coloration criteria are noticeable when observing Luna; her dark coat is often hot to the touch when she lies in the sun and six is about the age when wolves start displaying a more contemplative look before displaying an action, especially one that requires expending energy.  A recent red squirrel visit to the pack holding area was a great demonstration of this age specific phenomena.   A red squirrel scaled down the fence into the pack holding area after an active pursuit by Axel and Grayson; Luna watched the approach with intent ears, but the body did not go into motion until the squirrel hit the ground running.  As predicted, the squirrel just went back up another tree, habitat is important for all species at the Center.  Understanding the dynamics of interspecific interactions (actions between species) is part of our educational mission at the Center.  One way we accomplish our mission is through our Wolf Care Webinar Series.  Our next webinar in the series is on Friday the 13th.  To some people, this day conjures up images of horror movies, unexplained events, and a belief of bad luck.  Like Friday the 13th, Center staff hear many superstitious beliefs about wolves that have been perpetuated throughout history.  It is our goal to help educate people about the facts about wolf behavior.  To join us for this one-hour webinar, register at https://www.wolf.org/programs/webinars/ where we will broadcast from the retirement areas with Luna and Grizzer in retirement and explore those beliefs and try to uncover the possible wolf behavior that may have contributed to the myth.  The program starts at 7 pm Central Daylight Time. 

Weight: 105.5

Luna sniffing Grizzer - check out Grizzer's log next

Luna – Nose To Nose Making Grizzer Uncomfortable

June 7th, 2018

Luna has been very receptive to body work lately and you may see staff on the webcam trying a variety of techniques.  She has her favorites and you may see her present her right leg extended for the staff to reach.  We are very pleased with her behavioral progress since her last medical exam.  Staff report good interactions compared to a period of time when she responded with grab bites to staff whenever they tried to interact.  Grizzer can attest to Luna’s improvements as well with more face to face contact. In this week’s photo, you may notice Luna in submissive ears, greeting Grizzer with a “Nose-to-Nose” greeting; Grizzer’s not quite sure if he can trust the submissive interaction.  He displays an ear posture called “Ear’s Pricked and Turned Sideways” or EPTS in our ethogram.  This posture indicates interest (ears are pricked), but a bit of uncertainly (turned sideways).  The Veterinarian would like some follow-up bloodwork on Luna, but we will need to reduce her excess winter coat to reduce any overheating issues while under sedation.  We have identified a pattern when Luna has more discomfort.  Days with high humidity and low barometric pressure seems to be more uncomfortable on her joints, especially just before a storm. If you would like to get a chance to learn more about Luna and Grizzer and see their interactions, the wolf care department has started a Behind the Scenes tour at the Center in Ely, every Friday morning at 9 am.  Registration is limited to 20 people, so call the Wolf Den Store to reserve a spot. 

Weight: 109