Lives with: Massak and Sikko
Pukak, meaning "fine 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. Pukak, his brother Massak and sister Sikko were given to the Trust to enhance the education programme and were the first Arctic wolves in the UK. The cubs were raised by two park staff for 3 months until they were old enough for British Airways to fly them to England. 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 the staff at the Heathrow Animal Centre were very impressed with how relaxed they were. They even happily trotted back into their crates to continue their journey to the Trust. 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.
Pukak is not as tall as Massak and is the lowest ranking wolf in the pack. Massak spends a lot of time ensuring that Pukak know his place in the pack and stays there. Pukak for his part accepts his brother’s leadership, but he will still try to get away with some small acts of rebellion. Massak allows this up to a point and then Pukak has to suffer the consequences.
Like his siblings Pukak has a beautifully soft thick white coat and visitors to the Trust love to see the "white" wolves. Children think they are like polar bears!
Pukak can be a very affectionate wolf but does love his own space. He will do "air snaps" if someone forces themselves on him. He prefers handlers to wait for him to approach them and once he is confident will try to sit on a handler's lap given half the chance.
Pukak likes to fence fight with Motomo and he crouches down in the corner of the enclosure to hide from Motomo, and be ready to spring out and surprise him. Pukak has yet to learn that a very large white wolf is somewhat conspicuous in green grass!
On some enrichment days Pukak loves to bite at and play with bubbles blown by the volunteers. This can look quite comical as when the bubbles break he can’t quite understand where they have gone. He also enjoys winding up Massak and generally being the joker of the pack. This endears him to visitors and volunteers alike.
As an Ambassador wolf Pukak goes out on walks with the public and enjoys these immensely. Arctic wolves have very long nails because in the Arctic they need them for griping in snowy and icy conditions. In our climate the nails can grow too long and cause problems, so the handlers make sure they walk on some hard surfaces when they are out and also they have paving slabs to walk on in their enclosures. (No-one has volunteered to cut their nails yet!)
Anyone involved in behavioural research can learn so much by simply watching the intricacies of the Arctic's pack dynamics. Each year as they get older new patterns emerge.