Further photos and updates are available on the "UKWCT Friends" Facebook group. (Please note: the group is not an official UKWCT site; opinions and views posted there may differ from those of the UKWCT.)
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there will be fewer updates than usual. The wolves are still receiving excellent care from our volunteers, there are just fewer of them on site.
13th December 2020
Now that some restrictions have been lifted, there were enough handlers and Senior Handlers to take all our wolves out today. The weather was cold, cloudy and of course wet! However, we really don’t mind any of that considering how lucky we are to interact with the wolves.
Our room where we all meet up and have our food and drinks had been made very festive by Tsa, the Wolf Trust owner. Due to restrictions we are not able to have our annual ‘Xmas Bash’, so we are all touched she has still made the room look very Christmassy, with blow up snowmen and Santas, along with a lovely twinkling tree. Although we have to remain 2 metres apart while indoors, the atmosphere was very warm and inviting.
We first took out the Arctics, who currently look very grey due to their coats being wet and muddy! All 3 were keen to get out and we had a long walk with them. On the way back their usual amble got slower and slower as they investigated just about every blade of grass and leaf along the way. It was rewarding to see them so involved with their surroundings. Now breeding season is starting, we are looking for signs of heightened hormonal behaviour. Massak clearly didn’t want Pukak to try and get a fuss from any of us, so we left him alone, as Massak displayed a vertical tail and showed off his deep growls. Sikko, for once, did not wind the brothers up.
Once the walk was over and after a quick break, we headed out with the Beenhams, also very keen! All 3 managed to find very smelly deposits to roll around in. Tala found a large bone to gnaw away at in the bottom field near the pond, but soon lost interest as it just wasn’t up to her normal food standards requirement! The rain was only light but the wolves were soaked. As usual, once Nuka gave us the look and rolled over with paws in the air, we got wet and muddy hands rubbing his belly for him. We noted there was no heightened hormonal behaviour from Tundra towards Tala, so we had a peaceful, calm walk with them.
As the rain was holding off, we attempted to take Mai out, but today she just wanted to ‘stay in’ with Motomo. Torak was very keen to come out and it was a joy to see him ‘take the lead’ and saunter off in his calm and cool way. He took the lead and we let him decide where he wanted to go. He was very relaxed and took us all the way up to the farmer’s field, before we headed him back, so another long walk for all of us.
With the tortoises fed and exercised in the education room (too cold to take them outside) and the wolves’ food prepared, we all had a wolf each to feed.
Thankfully it was still early enough to go into the Beenham’s enclosure for a bit before we left. The girls both head rubbed all over most of our heads, meaning we now have dubious smells on our hair. Nuka came and then went but did come back. He jumped onto the platform and started play bowing – you can’t help but laugh. He twisted his body about like an acrobat and then set off around the enclosure in true Nuka Zoomies style. The girls followed and they all had a bit of a run around. Then like a switch they all stopped and it was time for us to leave, with the usual smiles plastered on our faces. Apologies, but no photos due to the gloom and wet. Written by Eve.
7th November 2020
Only two volunteers at the Trust this weekend due to the Covid restrictions. All the wolves were looking really good in their winter coats especially with the sun shining and the autumn leaves in the background. The Beenhams were corralled into their holding area while we laid a food trail in their main enclosure. Once released they very excitedly and quickly made their way around the enclosure snaffling up the chunks of food, having very carefully watched from their holding area where we had hidden it.
The rest of the wolves got their food in the normal manner, hand fed through the fence, so we can make sure they all get their share. For enrichment, we hollowed out some coconuts and stuffed them with beef, chicken, paunch, hotdogs and corned beef, and threw them into their enclosures, making sure each wolf got one and there was no squabbling. It was interesting to see the different techniques the packs used. The Arctics just crunched through the shells to get at the goodies inside but the Beenhams, particularly Nuka licked the corned beef bung out and then rolled the coconut so its contents fell out. Very clever! Torak just looked at his in disgust and walked off!
This only left time for a quick bit of maintenance as the light was fading, before leaving the wolves in peace.
A "Howloween" treat
25th October 2020
The weather forecast on Saturday was for increasing wind and rain as the day went on, so we got off to a brisk start by taking the Beenhams out for a walk. They were as eager as ever to come out and we set off across the wet grass, through the "log field" and around the copse to the east of the Trust. There were walkers out and about - some with dogs (Nuka wanted to get to them, but of course we held him back, at a considerable distance) and some without (who seemed oblivious to the wolves being out and about).
Back on the Trust's land, we went to the two troughs. This time Nuka pretty much ignored the one he favoured last week, instead preferring the self-filling trough. He lapped at the water, dunking his chin in, then rubbed all along the side of the trough, before repeating the action again and again... he was having a great time, but with some drizzle in the air we carried on for the rest of the walk. Nuka was so engrossed he even missed a dog walking past on the main road, most unlike him!
The rest of the walk was largely uneventful, although Nuka decided to go for a paddle in the fast-flowing Bourne. His sisters meanwhile had crossed the bridge to the other side and you could see Nuka trying to work out how best to join them... by the time he figured out that the best way was to go round, Tundra and Tala had already come back across the bridge.
After putting the Beenhams back, we went to see if Torak or Mai wanted to come out. They didn't: Torak was engrossed with the Arctics, presently in the holding area adjacent to him, while Motomo was keen to ensure Mai didn't come out.
We then went to have lunch and, for some variety, carve a selection of small pumpkins. A number of us hadn't done that before, but the results seemed good enough! We stuffed them with various meat and hotdogs and gave them to the wolves along with their food.
Torak swiftly knocked the lid off his, then carefully extracted the contents. The Beenhams saw us coming and were excited to see them... Nuka destroyed his in seconds, Tala carefully ate the meat and Tundra... well, she ate the meat then pee'd in hers! Mai nudged hers with her muzzle, sending it rolling along the platform; when it burst open on landing she scoffed the contents. Motomo meanwhile watched from afar, doubtless eating his when we moved on.
We went in with the Beenhams for a few minutes, then the heavens opened and we called it a day.
Pumpkin preparation, Arctics
Mai and Motomo, Torak
18th October 2020
We had a long and very productive day at the Trust today. Having all the right handlers down for the Arctics, Mai and Torak, we walked them all. The big plan of the day was to try and move Mai and Motomo along into the enclosure the Arctics have been in all summer. This enclosure has bedding areas on the hard standing. With Mai now being a respectable 14 and a half years of age, we need to ensure she has a snug place to sleep inside, should she desire to do so.
Massak, Pukak and Sikko messed about for quite a while before they would come onto the hard standing to be collared up for their walk. We had added a second gate across the holding area of Torak’s enclosure last week in preparation for them being moved into there after the walk today. Wolves learn from experience and had watched this activity! We all got going and all 3 spent a very long time sniffing every blade of grass along the way. Sikko wanted to have a fuss with everyone, which is fine but she will take any advantage she can and try and jump up. This means she becomes over excited and her handler, today Nikki, expertly moved her away. She is always watching to see if she can interfere with her brothers in some way. Massak displayed some Alpha behaviour, seeming to tower over Pukak while the pair of them gave low and deep grumbles, sounding more like lions at times. We had a couple of large deer in the field some distance away, who seemed frozen to the spot and then they were gone. The wolves were dismissive of them, with just a cursory glance.
The Arctics went into the holding area quite excited and Torak came to see what all the fuss was about. We had a break for lunch and then the plan was to open the large tractor gates between the two enclosures, while Mai was called onto the hard standing. Well, that was the plan. Mai came down with Motomo following her, but as soon as they heard the gates being moved they both trotted off! The Senior and handler made a swift exit out of the enclosure as Motomo is unsocialised and therefore unpredictable. Protective gauntlets were on hand as was the loud alarm horn, in case he decided to try and get near to anyone. Mai was now too interested in having a second enclosure to trot around in to consider her intended walk. Motomo hedged his bets by loitering either side of the gates, determined not to get caught out!
We moved onto the Beenhams' walk instead. With phase one of the plan completed, with the tractor gates open, Sarah had the great idea of walking the Beenhams up through the trust, past Mai and Motomo and then between that enclosure and where the Arctics were. We dutifully obliged, having our handler skills tested as all wolves were now excited with all the activity. Mai followed our progress and the Arctics starting running around after us. Motomo, tractor gates forgotten, followed Mai all the way over to where she was, meaning the gates were closed before a howl was uttered. Our pincer strategy had worked and was the quickest Mai and Motomo move I have witnessed over the years. He is a wily wolf and it has in the past taken a week or so at times to get him moved. All 3 Beenhams behaved very well as we walked between the enclosures and into the back field. Down at the stream Nuka was in and out of the water for quite some time, clearly noting where other animals had been down there having trotted up the far bank and into another field. All 3 also spent a lot of time sniffing everything and of course rolling around in dubious and smelly deposits. Having started in the back field, we did their walk in reverse, enjoying the now warmed up afternoon and the autumnal colours. Nuka played with his little water trough again and then all 3 wanted to leap through a hedge and get to a walker and their dog! In an instant you go from a slack lead with a quiet wolf, to a taut lead and an excited wolf! All 3 wanted to investigate, but we all moved them on without fuss. Tundra decided to take her frustration out on Tala and Nuka wanted to join in or break them up. We moved them all apart and the squabble was instantly forgotten. Nuka had a nano second on the big log before we put them back into their enclosure.
Torak was next and enjoyed a trip out to the top field and the back field without finding anything to eat today! Despite his new neighbours, he was keen to come out and on his return hung around at the front of his enclosure wondering where his dinner was.
Mai was by now looking very indignant and clearly wanted to go out. We obliged of course and we all huffed and puffed to keep up with her. Sue noted Motomo did not howl in her absence today, maybe due to being moved, but he kept a close eye on her as we walked around the back field. She made it clear we would be walking past her kids (the Beenhams) and back up through the trust to home. There was a funny moment when she went back in and realised there were no Arctics to fence run with and show off!
We quickly fed all the wolves who ate well today. We grabbed a few minutes in the Beenham’s enclosure before leaving for the day. There was another hilarious moment with Nuka. Tundra was giving someone a head rub while Nuka was having a fuss, when she sort of slipped which sent Nuka into overdrive. He leapt off the platform and went into Zoomie mode, racing around the enclosure full circle. On his run by us, the girls started chasing him. He then leapt onto another platform further away from us leaving the girls wondering where he had gone. He stood surveying his kingdom for a while, then sat down, then laid down and went to sleep.
We took out cue and left them to relax. A very enjoyable and productive day in the company of wolves.
Beenham photos by Craig, remaining photos and write-up by Eve.
Torak, Mai and Motomo
Nuka and Tundra
10th October 2020
Seven of us were at the Trust today and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful Autumn sunshine. With the wolves' coats thickening up and the colours appearing on the trees, it was a beautiful day to be out walking around the fields with them. The Beenhams, Mai and Torak were walked today and all were long walks!. Nuka had great fun as usual. He made a beeline for the small water trough that lays on the ground in the field were the sheep have been until recently. He waded in it, pawed at it, rubbed himself all over it, flip flopped all over it and then tried to pick it up! Seemed like he wanted it back in his enclosure! All 3 wolves jumped up on he old tree lying down in what we call the log field. We all had to rub ears and enjoyed some head rubs from them too. When we entered the final field at the bottom of the Trust, he headed into longer grass near to where we used to have our "predator days" with the birds of prey. He was nosing around and came up triumphantly carrying a long piece of deer skin... No doubt this was dropped by the ever opportunist kites swooping into enclosures when the wolves aren’t looking. I got the look from him which clearly said I am eating this... which he did and then trotted on with his walk. His sisters Tundra and Tala were oblivious to all of this. There was a bit of paddling in the stream and then some rolling around in something dubious before they went back into their enclosure.
Torak did at least 3 rounds of the back field behind the enclosure – he was clearly looking for other animal remains and reluctant to move away from where he though something might be... Although aloof and cool, it was fairly obvious what he was up to. He ventured over the little bridge sniffing around in the undergrowth by the stream but sauntered back empty mouthed.
Mai came out immediately when her handlers went onto the hard standing, leaving all the wolves behind howling. She had a bit of a stand-off with the Arctics which was interesting as she doesn’t usually pay them any attention. She went rigid and stared at them for a few moments before stalking off!
We prepared their food and the tortoises spent a lot of time munching on clover in the sunshine. Paunch is back on the menu now and all the wolves ate well, although Torak got extra chicken as he doesn’t like paunch. Once all the chains and work surfaces were cleaned, we went into the Beenham’s enclosure. The sisters rubbed our heads and ruined our hairstyles until Nuka launched himself onto the platform in an exuberant mood, scattering his sisters. After ensuring he’d licked everyone he bounded off. Calm was restored for some time with Tundra and Tala making use of the human slaves. Nuka returned and in Darren's absence starting play bowing with Neil, contorting his body into what we saw as a ploy to get Neil to chase him. It is magical to watch Nuka like this. He shot off and starting charging around the enclosure – we have nicknamed this Nuka’s Zoomies. With no-one chasing him he wandered off and left us alone. The sisters bounded off after a while so our time to go as well. The day went far too quickly and thankfully the rain held off until an hour after leaving. Photos and write-up by Eve.