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.
27th February 2021
Wow. What a change in the weather since the last time I was here. Minus 3 two weeks ago and T shirt weather today. It was glorious. The wolves were also enjoying the warm sunshine and were very relaxed especially considering this is their traditional breeding season.
First job of the day was to clean their bedding areas and change all their waters. The recent dry weather meant this was all clean anyway so it didn't take very long. A perimeter check of the fences ensured all was safe. We also took the time to have a quick coffee outside and enjoy watching the wolf behaviour. Motomo was finding Mai's smell very interesting and she was flirting with him.
We scooped out some melons and stuffed them with Tuna, Pilchards, small pieces of hot dog and eggs. A type of wolf Jambalaya. This wasn't their main food but some enrichment for them to chew on after we had left. We stuff the lids of the melons back on so they have to work out how to get to the goodies inside. It is interesting to watch a range of techniques from rolling the melons with their paws or nose to try and get the contents to spill or even biting straight into them and spitting the melon out. A couple took their melons to go and disappeared around the back of the enclosure to eat in peace.
Tala kept trying to get to her melon but every time she went to eat it Tundra would chase her off it. Tala would sneak round to another melon and the same thing would happen. This is typical behaviour of a dominant wolf towards a subordinate and is always more obvious at this time of the year. Normally Nuka gets involved to stop Tundra but I think he had figured that if she was chasing Tala off she wasn't eating her melon either so there were two spare melons. Tala did eventually run off with it and eat it behind a tree. The main food had already been given to the wolves and consisted of beef, chicken and paunch. As is often the case at this time of the year they were not that hungry.
Our big surprise of the day was from the Trust's tortoises. There is often food left by them as they never eat all their food however there were two small eggs next to their food. We do not feed them eggs and when a volunteer picked one of them up it was wet and slimy. It appears to be an egg that has been laid although neither female has had any male contact. This was a first for us.
Once all was cleaned up it was time to go home after a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Written by Cammie. Photos by Eve.
Arctics, melons and tortoise
Motomo and Mai, Torak
21st February 2021
A mild day at the Trust saw the wolves all looking good if not still a bit muddy from all the recent rain. Their enclosures have now started to dry out a bit.
The Beenhams were corralled into their holding area while we laid a food trail for them, making sure there was plenty of space between the food so Tala could get her fair share without Tundra bothering her. We needn't have worried as none of the wolves are particularly hungry at the moment, and they all slowly went around getting their fair share and even passing up some bits in favour of the more tasty ones. The red kites were constantly hovering overhead looking for an opportunity to swoop down and steal any unattended bits of meat.
A bit of cleaning and water bucket filling was required, along with food preparation for all the other wolves.
Torak was his usual aloof self but he kept coming around every now and again to see what we were doing and was particularly interested in what we were doing to his kennels when we were cleaning them. Mai and Motomo were their usual contented selves. Motomo particularly enjoyed his enrichment hessian sack filled with straw from the tortoises, hotdogs, tuna and drizzled with hotdog juice. He delighted in scent rolling on it before accessing its contents.
The Arctic are still looking muddier than the rest, but it doesn't seem to bother them and there is still more than enough grass in the middle of their enclosure for them to get away from the mud if they want. They too enjoyed their enrichment sacks and have a more direct approach to accessing the contents by simply just ripping them open rather than trying to work out how to get into them first.
All wolves fed and watered, a bit of maintenance to do and it was time to leave the wolves in peace and head home. Photos and video by Rachel.
13th February 2021
I arrived about half an hour earlier than normal. This was mostly due to leaving home early as the roads were icy but it also gave me the opportunity to spend some quality wolf time . Due to restricted numbers at the moment this was my first visit this year.
All the wolves seemed pleased to see me apart from Torak who was his usual aloof self. He warmed to me later when he saw I had bought him a fish treat. As well as checking on the wolves physical welfare we also like to provide some sort of enrichment for them as they are not going out on walks at the moment. Today was easy as one of their favourite play items was in great abundance. ICE. Their water buckets had a crust of ice approximately 4 inches deep which made wonderful ice discs for them to play with. The wolves are required to always have access to fresh water so all the buckets had to be refreshed. The outside taps are kept in a wooden box and lined with bubble wrap but even they were no match for the minus 5 degrees temperature the night before. The wolves also have troughs which they use for bathing in. These were broken up by a volunteer smashing with a metal fence post. This also proved great entertainment for the wolves.
Other duties today involved perimeter checks of the enclosures. A great job as the wolves also walk along beside us to watch what we are up to. Their beds were all cleaned and re-plumped with straw. Most of the wolves prefer to sleep outside even in minus temperatures as their coats keep them warm but the beds are there in case the older ones want to crash out in a bit of warmth.
Once all jobs were completed it was time for food. Menu today was a small helping of fish for a starter, beef, chicken, deer and paunch. The local kites who hang around at feed time trying to steal the meat couldn't take any of the deer as the chunks were too big but they did their best with the smaller pieces of beef. Once they were all fed it was time to clean up and go home. Update and photos by Cammie.
Mai and Nuka
7th February 2021
I heaved a sigh of relief after a quick peek out of the window first this thing this morning – no snow!! Off to spend the day with the wolves after quite some time. The 4 of us did a perimeter check first thing, where we walk all the way around the trust wolf enclosures to ensure there are no weak spots or breaches on the fencing. The wolves were all excited, following us around. Nuka had a brief "zoomie", exuberant as ever.
Sarah and Fausta prepared the food, while Bridget and I took advantage of a sheltered spot outside in the sun. We had brought in a mixture of fresh herbs, which we mixed with straw to make little enrichment bundles for the wolves later in the day.
With all the rain again recently, some straw in the wolves bedding areas had to be removed and replaced with fresh dry straw. Some of the wolves like throwing all the straw from the raised beds onto the floors, meaning any rain that seeps in under the doors makes the straw wet.
Once all their dens were clean and dry, we gave the wolves the herb parcels and watched with interest. Mostly they ran off with one and rolled around in ecstasy. Pukak ripped his apart, looking for food and couldn’t quite believe there wasn’t any! He went in search of his sibling’s bundles, which by now where all squashed in the grass from all the rolling. All around the trust was the smell of fragrant herbs. Torak took one look at the bundles he was giving and stalked off completely unimpressed. We suspect he will go back for some private rolling later on.
We fed the wolves and noted all of them ate well. The sky was full of kites again wheeling and swooping down looking for morsels that may have been missed.
As the afternoon became more gloomy, we cleaned all the work areas and then left for the day, happy to see all of the wolves healthy, content and extremely muddy! Update and photos by Eve.
Torak, Mai, Motomo, kites
30th January 2021
Spring is in the air at the Wolf Trust - despite continuing cold and wet weather, daffodils are poking their heads out of the soil and wild birds are starting to look for good nesting spots around the site. The wolves haven’t displayed much breeding behaviour this year, probably as Torak is now on his own and Mai and Motomo are no longer in the first flush of youth. Mai has been doing a bit of den digging, as evidenced by her streak of yellow fur where the clay has stained her head. It’s a fetching lockdown look!
Current Covid restrictions mean that only four volunteers can be at the Trust at any one time in order to care for the wolves so that means the Arctics and Beenhams will have to wait until these are lifted before they can have enrichment walks again as we need eight people to do it safely. Torak, being a lone wolf, can still be walked but it is always on his terms. He wasn’t particularly interested today - like many of us at this time of year, a cosy spot to rest beats a wet and windy walk.
With the recent rain, a lot of water had built up in the corners of the Arctics and Beenham's enclosures so the volunteers on duty spent a squelchy time digging shallow trenches outside the fences to help the water drain away. It was successful and the wolves found it all very interesting. After this, the Beenhams were put in their holding area so we could lay a food trail for them. Encouraging the wolves to work for their food is good enrichment and we’re always thinking of different things to stimulate their minds. When they were let out, Tundra and Tala went straight for the trees and waterfall were they had seen us hiding food while Nuka ambled about, letting his nose lead him to various tasty morsels.
At feeding time, particularly in the winter, the word gets quickly around the local red kites and Sunday was no exception. At one point there must have been about 30 of them circling around and occasionally diving into the enclosures to grab whatever they’d spotted. The wolves aren’t very keen on them - Motomo will chase kites but he’s yet to catch one as they judge their swoops very well. Mai and Motomo had coconuts filled with corned beef as enrichment and they enjoyed working hard with their tongues to get at every last bit. Torak had a sack stuffed with straw from the tortoises’ hutch, scented with eucalyptus and tea tree which he happily rolled on. Even the tortoises had an afternoon out, bumbling around the education room while their pen was cleaned and were even treated to a bath.
Despite the cold weather, the wolves weren’t particularly hungry, apart from the Arctics who always have prodigious appetites. In fact, Pukak was so keen for his meal that he skidded in the mud and went face first into it. He came up sneezing mud everywhere and looking most put out! Needless to say the Arctics aren’t looking particularly white at the moment. It’s amazing when we have a couple of dry days though as the mud just slips off their slightly oily coats and they’re back to their snowy best.
All to soon it was time to bid the wolves goodbye, knowing they were well fed and entertained and their kennels were warm with fresh straw on their bed blocks. They are certainly having a wonderful retirement! Update and photos by Nikki