Lives with: Pukak and Sikko
Massak, meaning "soft snow" in Labradoran Inuit Language, was born on 8thMarch 2011 at Parc Safari Canada in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the winter. His mother, Roxy, gave birth to four cubs early in the morning and, before staff could shovel enough snow away to reach her and the cubs, all four cubs had severe hypothermia and had to be wrapped in tinfoil. Sadly one cub died. Roxy then gave birth to another cub and this cub has remained with her in Canada. The other three cubs, Massak, Pukak and Sikko were donated to the Trust to enhance the education programme and were the first Arctic wolves in the U.K. The cubs were raised by two female park staff for 3 months until they were old enough for British Airways to fly them to England. This meant that Massak was less at ease with men and has taken a long time to accept some of the male handlers. One of our directors Linda Malliff visited them when they were three weeks old and then flew out to collect them.
They arrived in England on Tuesday June 28th and staff at the Heathrow Animal Centre were very impressed with how relaxed they were. Due to the UK quarantine regulations the cubs had to be kept in isolation at the Trust for 6 months with only 10 authorised handlers having access to them. This has meant that they are less confident with new people than the Beenhams who interacted with volunteers and public alike from an early age.
Massak's paws are huge with long nails for gripping the ice and hard snow. He is quite a shy wolf who likes to do things on his own terms, but once he can trust and respect people, he is extremely affectionate and playful. When handlers go into the enclosure Massak lets Pukak and Sikko greet them first. Then after a suitable period he will sidle up and allow people to stroke him. He is very cautious about new things.
Massak soon established himself as the dominant male and as such has had no trouble at all keeping his siblings in order. Just a hard stare from him is enough to restore order. He rests his head on Pukak's back frequently to reinforce his dominance and never misses an opportunity to let Pukak know who is boss. His sister is clever enough to know when to be submissive to avoid trouble.
Massak likes to be in charge, fence running with Motomo, starting rough and tumble games with his siblings and trying to get handlers to play with him by play bowing and tossing bits of sack up in the air and then bounding off hoping he will be followed. (It is not a good idea for a human to indulge in play with a wolf as they play rough and injuries could occur!)
All the Arctic wolves go out on Arctic ambles and enrichment walks with the public and are extremely popular with visitors that come to the Trust. They certainly appear more placid that the other wolves.
Massak likes to eat anything and is very protective towards his food. He has to be as Pukak will try to get any food not in a wolf’s mouth! If a food trail is laid in the enclosure it is fascinating to watch how rapidly Massak follows the scent trail to the food. Massak likes to sit on top of the mound and watch what is going in around him.
The Trust is extremely fortunate to have the Arctics. It gives students a valuable opportunity to study their behaviour and deduce whether or not they differ from the North American packs who have had a different upbringing and originate from a different habitat.