What are the wolves up to?

Updates from January and February 2019


24th February 2019

What a fantastic day to be out with the wolves. Full sunshine and very warm. Spring arrived today!

The Arctic wolves, Massak, Pukak and Sikko rushed on to the hard standing for their long-awaited walk now the breeding season for then has come to an end.

There was a lot of sniffing, rolling and scenting as they put their marks back on to their territory. They all took their time checking all of the field out. Sikko got very excited during her walk as she flushed out not one, but two pheasants from the hedgerows. She was very well behaved about it and didn't try to chase them, thankfully for Linda and myself who were handling her.

While we were out Sean, Craig, Giuseppe, along with Debra and Iwona helped put some paving slabs into the Arctic's enclosure, along the front of the fence. These act as wolf nail files and help to keep their claws from growing too long. When we put them back into their enclosure all three went to investigate but were wary of the slabs. At feeding time Pukak would not walk on them to take his food so I had to walk further down the enclosure for him. After a few days they will get used to them and realise they do not pose a threat.

We then had the go ahead from Tsa to take out Torak and Mosi. I stayed behind and we put the tortoises out by the Arctic's enclosure as the wolves are fascinated by them. We also gave them a bath and Linda prepared fresh food for them. We also decided to prepare the wolves food too to save time later in the day.

Some of the other volunteers also stayed back for a clean-up in Torak and Mosi's enclosure and to check everything is still ok in there for them. Apparently both wolves thoroughly enjoyed their walk and the handlers had to stretch their legs! No doubt they will spend some time investigating all the volunteer's scents during the evening.

After a short break for well-earned drinks, biscuits and doughnuts, courtesy of Deborah, it was time to take out the Beenhams. Those who hadn't handled on the Arctic walk were handlers for the Beenhams who sent off at a fast pace, leaving the rest of us trailing behind. There was a lot of scent rolling resulting in some very pungent wolves and volunteers! When the wolves come up to say hallo, you can't ignore them and we forget what they have been rolling in.

After the walk, we went into their enclosure but they'd obviously had enough of us by then as only Tundra came and stayed with us for a while. She loves to rub herself all over our heads and shoulders, leaving even more of her pungent smells on us! Tundra then trotted off so we left and fed all of the wolves.

Mai decided she wanted to go out too, so she went off with some of her favourite handlers while we packed up and went off home in glorious sunshine.

A wonderful day was had by all of us and the wolves were happy too.

Update written by Eve.


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Pukak, Tala and Tundra


16th February 2019

The last time I visited the Trust, it was a winter wonderland; this time it was springlike. There were no problems getting onto the site and the wolves were all in fine fettle.

As usual, the day started with a quick catch-up and briefing for the volunteers, then it was out for a walk with the Beenhams. They really enjoy their time out and about and they powered around the usual route. As is often the case, they decided to roll in smelly stuff and Tala ended up with a particularly ripe aroma - she radiated happiness, as well as a bit of a stench! There were no groups of walkers or sledders this time, with the walk being straightforward and swift. The wolves don't seem to realise that the faster they go, the sooner the walk is over!

After a short break, we went along the enclosures to check on the wolves, all of whom (except Motomo) came up for a fuss through the fence. While this was going on one of the volunteers did some pruning behind Torak and Mosi's enclosure. We then went in with the Beenhams, who as ever were pleased to see us. I was half-expecting a repeat of Nuka's new game (the one where he springs suddenly to all fours while being stroked), but it wasn't to be. This time his fun came with some vigorous stroking, which made him stomp his hind paws on the wooden platform he was standing on. It's a reminder of how wolves enjoy new things, in Nuka's case he gets up to something different every time.

After we'd spent some time inside, we left the enclosure and prepared the food for the wolves: chicken and beef this time, the traditional weekend menu. The wolves were generally keen to eat, although Mai in particular left some food behind. This isn't terribly surprising as it's at the height of breeding season. With the feeding completed we said our goodbyes and headed off home.


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Mosi and Torak, Mai and Motomo, the Arctics and Tala

10th February 2019

We were a lean team today although just enough to get the Beenhams out, (Nuka, Tala and Tundra), hooray! Sarah, our Senior handler today, arrived and did the wolf count first, then let us all in to warm up before we got started on our day.

A couple of us went down to the Beenham enclosure to lure them into the holding enclosure with a tin of smelly sardines in oil. They go bonkers for this and all came racing up for the tid bits. Nuka practically salivated and desperately tried to get his tongue through the fence to lick out the tin – not allowed due to sharp edges!

It is easier to get them onto the hard standing from the holding enclosure as they are keen to come out of there, although it is a large space. Trying to get them in from the main enclosure has in the past resulted in the 3 of them playing what they think is a fabulous game, running around 2 acres, just out of reach, while we watch helplessly… You can’t chase a wolf and they don’t come and sit on command!

They all came flying in to greet us and we got their collars on easily. Nuka was once again turbo charged and set off at a fast pace. The girls were hot on his heels and we set off across the fields for a thorough investigation. Nuka in particular decided it was serious scent rolling today, finding some wonderful smelly deposits to roll in, When I suggested he may like to go in the pond and wash it all off, he dutifully obliged but did have his sights set on the pond anyway.

Having just acquired a GoPro, I tried it out on the walk today and you can see some of the walk here – the wolves had a loud howling session before we went out and the Go Pro sound is quite impressive – the link is here.

Luckily the rain held off and we had a lovely walk with them. At one point all 3 stopped and stared at the field in the distance full of sheep. Usually they take no notice of them at all but today they were stubborn to move on. After a few minutes we could see why – there was a dog walker with dog in the distance that we just did not see. Incredible how their noses and eyes pick up so much more than us mere humans.

After the wolves were back in their enclosure we prepared the food for all 10 of them and I bathed the tortoises while Linda made up some fresh food for them. After this we all had a general cleaning session in the various rooms at the trust. Craig went off with a variety of tools to do some pruning behind the enclosures. He didn’t return before I left, an hour or so later, not even when we had a heavy hail downfall – now there is dedication for you.

Deborah and Veda made up some smelly sacks as enrichment for the wolves, making the food shed smell more like a spa than the usual butcher shop smell!

As it is breeding season, none of the other wolves are going out for walks as they can become a bit too feisty, so it’s best to leave them with their respective mates. We did see if Mai wanted to come out as it is good for her to get extra exercise and keep the strength up in her back legs. She did come out but within a few minutes couldn’t bear to be away from Motomo and marched her handlers back to the enclosure!

Torak was patrolling his enclosure in a very masterly way as he does during this time of the year. He is keeping a very watchful eye on Mosi who appeared quite disgusted with us when she didn’t get out on a walk.

The Arctics were keen for some interaction with us through the fence and of course, we obliged! We plan to get them back out for a walk at the end of February. Their breeding season is usually about 4 weeks ahead of the rest of our wolves. Massak, the alpha male had been showing some aggressive (I am the boss) behaviour to his siblings over the last few weeks, but it looks like this is waning now.

We threw all the sacks in for the wolves before we left, giving them something to entertain themselves with during the evening. A few wolves made a cursory roll on them and stalked off but we have no doubt they will not look like sacks the next day.

Once again a fabulous day at the trust with the wonderful wolves.

Update written by Eve.


2nd February 2019

Snow Day!

February started off on a cold note. It may not have snowed where I live, in Kent, but there was plenty of snow on view on the way to the Trust. The snow had fallen throughout Friday and lay crisp, deep and even in Beenham.

After parking in the snowy car park, I joined the others and we waited to see how many volunteers would make it in. The magic number was soon reached and we set off to take the Beenhams out and about... their first walk, I believe, in deep snow. The snow had thawed even as it was falling on Friday, but the crust then froze overnight. This meant it was very crunchy underfoot and the effect seemed to spook Tala a bit! She, with her massive paws, was able to walk on top of the crust, unlike us humans.

Tala soon got used to the unusual sound, however, and before long we were striding across the snowfields. We weren't the only ones out and about and we encountered a couple of groups of people at the far point of the walk, around the Ridge's Belt woodland. One group was out sledding and, after initial amazement at seeing the wolves took some photos from a distance. The other group was out for a walk and they too watched from a safe distance as we went past. It was harder going than usual due to the snow, but it didn't seem to bother the wolves at all.

We returned the wolves to their holding area and set about building a snowman for the Beenhams. We studded it with bits of corned beef and hotdogs, to give the wolves a treat. Remembering the fun the Canadian pack had with a snowball back in 2008, I was expecting a similar reaction! As it happened the wolves were very wary of the snowman and although they circled it many a time, none were brave enough to grab at the meat while we were there. The only thing that did was a robin!

With the snowman intact, the next task was to prepare the food for the wolves (and tortoises). While that was underway, there was a flurry of noise from the Beenhams - they'd plucked up enough courage and had discovered the meat (as well as demolishing the snowman).

Feeding was quicker than usual as there were prepared portions of deer for the wolves. They didn't seem overly hungry though, generally saving their food for later.

With the walk completed, feeding done and a forecast of a sharp frost to come, we said goodbye to the wolves and set off home.


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Mosi and Torak
The Beenhams (with the Arctics watching)


27th January 2019

We all huddled in the observation room reluctant to head out into the biting wind this morning! As it is breeding season we are only taking out the Beenhams and Mai, if she chooses to do so.

All 3 Beenhams were straight on to the hard standing led by Nuka who set off at a very fast pace once they were all collared up and had the obligatory 2 handlers per wolf attached to them with the very cold chains. Nuka found something very smelly and rolled around in it for a good 5 minutes! Tala and Tundra did find their own smelly substances to roll in later on in the walk.

Despite it being the breeding season, the wolves did not seem to be particularly feisty with each other. There was the odd little grunt and growl from Nuka when Tundra and Tala interfered with him, along with Tundra standing tail up over Tala but it didn’t escalate into a big argument.

They all stood in the ponds along the way and had a drink. Tundra decided Pete needed to have a head rub while he was sitting on the bench in the bottom field!

After the Beenhams were safely back in their enclosure, Mai decided she did want to come out. Motomo did try to stop her initially, but gave up and let her out. She is in fine form and still very strong, setting off fast and keeping Karen and Nikki in boot camp mode. We only got to the top field when she decided it was time to go home to Motomo. There is no stopping her once she decides and I found it just a bit amusing as the handlers were turned 180 degrees to head back!

We then got on with food prep and tortoise bathing. The tortoises need baths regularly so they got the full spa treatment with nice warm water. After the bath they had a munch on their new food and then headed to the back of their pen to doze under the heat lamps.

There was some pruning to do which turned into quite a full on lopping of some trees and bushes. With the strong winds there was a lot of debris around that we all cleared up.

We all fed the wolves who were not particularly interested in eating, but rather burying it instead! We took quite a lot back to the food shed to be weighed back in. When I passed by the Arctics I saw Pukak with an extremely muddy nose so more caching.

We ended our day spending some time in the Beenhams' enclosure, which is always a privilege to be allowed in there with the wolves. Nuka looked like he was going to be mischievous again, but he didn’t have Darren to play with this week! I gave the wolves lots of ear massages, which they all love, with Nuka almost turning his head upside down to get just the right place massaged.

After some time spent being licked, sniffed and head rubbed, we left before the rain started and headed off home. As usual, a wonderful day.

Update written by Eve, photos by Nikki


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The Beenhams


19th January 2019

Saturday was an overcast, drizzly and chilly day, not that such things bother the wolves. As ever, Mosi was there to greet the volunteers as they arrived, with Torak keeping an eye too - just in case there were enough to take him out. (As it happens, it's coming up to breeding season and so Mosi and Torak walks are suspended, regardless of how many people turn up. I'm not sure that Torak's worked that out though!)

The food for the wolves was left to defrost, then the tortoises were given a bath by one of the volunteers. At the same time, the second webcam was brought back online, albeit due to technical reasons involving Windows 10 it won't show much when it's sunny.

With the jobs done, the Beenhams then came out for a walk. All three wolves were fascinated by the various smells and at varying times all three of them rolled in something extremely smelly... the handlers may have wrinkled their noses, but the wolves thoroughly enjoyed it! Again, it was a longer walk than in the days when we were open to the public, with the wolves stopping for the occasional fuss.

Mai was also eager to come out for a walk and as usual with her we went around the top field. She took a shortcut through the wooded area that was planted a few years ago and as last time she set a very brisk pace - she is still full of energy!

After a short break, the handlers went in with the Beenhams. I stayed outside initially so that I could get some pictures of the Beenhams greeting the handlers. Tundra and Nuka were their usual affectionate selves, while Tala had to make to with a lesser amount of fuss as the result of her sister: Tundra doesn't like Tala getting much attention in the run up to breeding season.

After a while I entered the enclosure and both Nuka and Tundra came over, with Tundra proffering a play-bow in greeting. Nuka, as is usually the case, tried his hardest to get me to play with him and this time he came up with a new game. This took the form of flopping on his side for a belly rub, then after a random amount of time suddenly getting up on all fours, ready for a game of chase. Of course I couldn't chase him, but he seemed to enjoy the game anyway! This is very unusual for a wolf of Nuka's age, as normally males lose that playfulness as they mature.

With the games out of the way and dusk approaching, we set off to finish preparing the food for the wolves' feeding session. This time the menu consisted of chunks of deer and paunch, giving the wolves something bigger to chew on. As there were ten of us there, it didn't take long to feed them all - albeit it takes a while for the wolves to demolish such large chunks of deer.

With feeding completed and the wintry light fading, we said our goodbyes and set off for home.


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Mosi and Torak, Mai and Motomo
The Beenhams and the Arctics

New Year

5th January 2019

The first wolf walk of 2019 took place on a cold, dull and still day. Just as well, as it'd have been bitter if it was windy! As usual, Mosi greeted the volunteers as they arrived and while we waited for everyone to arrive some work was done to the main webcam - which should now be up and running again, having been offline over Christmas. With a full complement of volunteers, we headed straight out with the Beenhams (who were eager to come out and explore, not having been out for a couple of weeks).

The breeding season is approaching and we have to be mindful of the effects this causes - even in neutered wolves like the Beenhams. For example, if a fuss is made of Tala, Tundra will come over and tell her off. This made for some fun and games, as Tala was in one of her affectionate moods; she'd approach a volunteer, position herself in full view, then gaze up hopefully with the wolf equivalent of "puppy dog eyes". When she does this she's very appealing and the volunteers had a tough job to avoid Tundra seeing that she was getting an ear rub or a bit of fuss!

Nuka, as ever, was full of beans and perked up when he saw the water trough was frozen over. Nuka loves ice and once the handlers broke some up for him, he rubbed over it, bit into it and licked it.

As is usual these days the wolves set a brisk pace along the walk, covering a couple of miles in much less time than it took on the members' walks.

After the Beenhams had been returend to their enclosure, there was a brief break, then Mai was taken out for a walk. She's generally keen to come out, even if Motomo would rather she didn't! You wouldn't guess that Mai was an elderly wolf, as she still sets a brisk pace... aside, that is, from when she howls back to Motomo. Having lost her howl last year, she's found it again; it's not especially loud but it's much better than it was. Mai's walks never go on as long as those of the Beenhams, as she decides after a while that she'd rather like to see Motomo again.

With two walks completed, we then prepared the wolves' food. It was the typical weekend menu of chicken and beef, mixed up with some paunch (except for Torak, who doesn't like the stuff). Before we fed them, though, we popped in for a brief visit with the Beenhams. On their own territory we have to be even more mindful of making a fuss of Tala, and indeed she didn't get much opportunity from her sister! Nuka barrelled over to say hello, then zoomed off at a rate of knots before taking up a position on top of the mound. That was the last we saw of him until just as we were leaving. As he saw us opening the enclosure gate, he came bombing up, giving a play bow in an attempt to get us to play chase with him... not a game we'd win!

The wolves were then given their food and after tidying up the volunteers set off for home.


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Mosi and Torak
The Beenhams and Mai