What are the wolves up to?
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.)
January and February 2019's updates are here.
November and December 2018's updates are available here.
For updates from September and October, click here.
27th April 2019
Saturday was a bright and windy day. The excitement started earlier than usual, when a member of the public walking past asked us some questions, then realised his dog had gone. That's not really what either of us wanted, but a quick search failed to find any trace of the little dog. The gentleman set off in the direction that his errant dog had headed in, while we went inside and went through the plans for the day.
The first order of business was taking the Beenhams out for a walk. The wind was really quite strong, near gale force, but it didn't seem to bother the wolves. They can be fickle, though; back in the day Dakota jumped out of her skin when a gust created a howling noise as it passed through her enclosure fence! No such problems for the Beenhams, though, who as usual set a brisk pace around the fields. We were even more observant than usual, keeping an eye out for the Jack Russell that had gone missing earlier.
At the easternmost part of the walk we heard the gentleman calling for his dog. As I wasn't handling at the time, I darted through the copse to see what was going on - as it turned out, he was heading away from us and happily he'd found his dog. I went back through the trees and undergrowth, only to find three lupine faces waiting for me... the wolves seemed most interested in why I'd gone into the woods! The rest of the walk was less eventful, with the wolves moving swiftly along the route. There was time, however, for a couple of "fuss" sessions, something which both wolves and handlers enjoy. Tala even jumped up on one of the old picnic tables and she clearly relished the attention she received.
With the Beenhams' walk done, there was a short break followed by a special birthday treat for Torak, Mosi and Mai: sardines, fresh from the can. It's a far cry from the fancy cakes they've had in the past, but they enjoyed them all the same. It was Mosi and Mai's 13th birthday (Torak's was earlier in the week) and although Mai is sometimes starting to show her age, Mosi and Torak are as sprightly as ever. Regular feeding took place afterwards and the wolves polished off all their food... except, that is, for Mosi, who decided she didn't fancy the succulent fresh beef - she preferred the older beef we had. Mosi took her time with a large chunk of chicken, too. Long enough in fact for Torak to come strolling over, although a quick glare from Mosi soon sent him away again!
With the feeding completed, we went in with the Beenhams. Nuka didn't hang around for long, but the two girls stayed with us for quite some time, with Tundra doing her usual neck-rubbing and Tala after as much attention as she could get. They're moulting on their legs and at times it almost looked like it was snowing, such was the amount of tiny bits of fur coming off! It won't be long before the main moult starts, with chunks of shed fur coming off them. Indeed, the Arctics are almost at that stage already.
Once the wolves wandered off, we left the enclosure and called it a day. As ever, a great time was had by all!
Easter Sunday 2019
Everyone was keen to get on with the walks early today due to the very warm weather over Easter. After lots of drinks (and Cadbury's crème eggs!) we were ready to go.
We headed out with the Arctics first, Massak, Pukak and Sikko, who were keen to get out and started sniffing and scenting along the way.
Our walk with them today was in the big field behind the enclosures which Mosi was delighted with bouncing up and down and looking very interested in what the Arctics were up to. Even Torak abandoned his usually aloof attitude to see what all the fuss was about.
There are signs now the Arctics are slowly starting to lose their winter coats as the occasional tuft floated off in the wind from their coats. Sikko decided to go for a paddle which ended up as a bit of a slide fully into the stream where she stood drinking with water up to her belly. Deciding to extract herself from the water via the steepest bit of the bank we watched with interest as she showed the power in her shoulders when hauling herself out. Impressive...
On the final walk back though the top field all 3 wolves were sniffing along the fence when a loud clucking and flapping started... All 3 went for the female pheasant but Sikko claimed the prize with lightning speed. After some time she did let go but not before the other 2 gave their handlers some training in how to keep them away from Sikko's treasure! We do watch the wolves every second we are out with them, but they are very quick and sometimes they do flush animals out of their hiding places.
Once the wolves were back in their enclosure, we had a quick rehydration rest and then off out with Nuka, Tundra and Tala. We had an uneventful walk with them! They were all very keen and soon handlers were being frogmarched around the fields as they sniffed and scented their way around their territory. We are able to slow the wolves done if need be by just lengthening our stride and leaning back slightly, but mostly we just enjoy the vigorous walking. Usually, once we are half way through the walk, they tend to slow down a bit. We also swop handlers around at about this time. If the wolves have been charging along, the front handlers peel the chain away from their wrists, proudly showing how fast their wolf has been going along by the depth of the chain indentations!
We returned the wolves to their enclosure before the heat built up too much and off they trotted to see what had been going on in their absence and we headed off for more drinks!
Mai appeared very keen to come out so we obliged. It was great to see her back to her old vibrant self and much stronger in her back legs. During the breeding season she had just about stopped eating for a while and had lost some weight. Over the last few weeks her appetite has returned and has been tucking into her food eagerly. We have been topping up her normal quantity with some extras which she has also eaten. Wolves will build up muscle and weight very quickly and it does show now with Mai. However, after scenting in her usual place just a short way from her enclosure, wanting a fuss from everyone on the walk and heading into the first field, where she rolled around in diesel fumes left by the standing tractor, she about turned and lead us all back to Motomo who was howling mournfully. Once back inside, she ignored him and went racing off to run along the fence teasing the Arctics. She came back to the water trough for a drink as Motomo was trying to rub himself all over her. He was so wrapped up in this, he forgot about us at the fence as he rolled himself all over her while she tried to drink. It was very amusing to watch these two interact right in front of us. Finally they both stood side by side drinking, but this was a sneaky ploy on Motomo's part as he then was able to get his neck over the top of her shoulders and rub some more!
We had our lunch and prepared all the wolves' food. The tortoises were taken out of their summer day pen (outside) and roamed around in front of the wolves' enclosures for about an hour, eating clover and showing us how fast they can vanish from sight! The wolves are always intrigued with them.
We went into the Beenhams enclosure and spent some time with them. We are their massage slaves! I love the way they turn this way and that, presenting this side and then that ear to be scratched and massaged. They certainly know how to get exactly what they want – and we love to oblige!
Having fed the wolves and safely put the tortoises away for the night, we all headed off home with big smiles on our faces. Update written by Eve, photos by Craig L.
13th April 2019
Saturday dawned bright and breezy and it stayed that way as the volunteers arrived. There was a sometimes chilly easterly wind but the wolves, with their thick winter coats, didn't mind at all. We had our customary "briefing" and discussed the plan of action: Beenhams, Mai, then some enrichment followed by feeding. As a nod to the time of year, I bought in plenty of eggs: real ones for the wolves, creme ones for the volunteers. Mosi had watched intently as I unloaded them all; she's always keen to see what's going on!
The Beenhams were eager to come out and stood patiently while we put on their collars. They have a habit of "puffing up" their fur, so we have to make sure they're adjusted correctly. Sometimes they fidget while this goes on, but not this time. They set off as if they were rocket-propelled, with Nuka bringing up the rear for much of the walk. Tala rolled in some smelly stuff and spent most of the walk with her nose to the ground, enjoying all the smells. Nuka and Tundra were more focused, doing the typical "walk briskly, then stop suddenly to sniff" routine. Just after the halfway point Tala found a hole and, deciding it wasn't big enough, excavated some more with her paws - she then rubbed herself all over the hole she'd made. As it wasn't a warm day the wolves didn't spend much time in the water, although they did have a quick paddle. They much preferred to hang around for some fuss and attention, which us handlers were only too pleased to give them. Both Tundra and Nuka flopped on their sides, while Tala sneaked around for some scratches (out of sight of Tundra).
We put the wolves back in their enclosure, then went to see if Mai wanted to come out. Despite Motomo blocking her, twice, she decided she wanted to come out - and away we went, with a speed not far off the Beenhams. She went into the field, turned left and found the big hole that Tala had dug. She put her own scent on it, overwriting Tala's, then with her tail high she led us back to her enclosure: she wanted to go back to Motomo. Motomo, for his part, once again started howling before Mai had even left!
After having some lunch it was time for some enrichment. I'd got a 10-pack of hen's eggs and we gave one to each wolf - or rather, threw one per wolf over the fence. Some of the eggs landed intact, while others splatted messily. Wolves are known to like eggs (Nuka finds them especially enjoyable) and there was no rolling today, just plenty of slurping and licking. This led to some good photo opportunities, some of which are shown in the gallery below.
The day ended with us feeding the wolves and again it was a typical weekend mix of beef, chicken and paunch. The wolves were as keen as ever for their food and although at one stage Nuka had a couple of bits of food on the floor by him, he made sure that neither Tundra or Tala could steal any - warning them with a low growl when they nonchalantly strolled over to him. We then tidied up and headed home, another enjoyable day for both wolves and handlers.
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The Arctics, The Beenhams
Mosi and Torak, Mai and Motomo
7th April 2019
The wonderful sound of wolves howling, led by Mosi of course, greeted us as we arrived. We all made sure we were fuelled up with biscuits and hot drinks as we were going to walk all the wolves.
The morning started off a bit chilly and the Arctics were keen to get out and investigate. We have to walk them past the Beenhams to get out into the first field, which can result in some grumbling from all 6 wolves. The Beenhams danced around in their enclosure, tails held high, but this time the Arctics were pretty well behaved and just walked by, eager to get going.
All 3 were on the go most of the walk and we were wishing we didn’t have so many clothes on after a while! Massak, Pukak and Sikko are still in their full winter coats and enjoyed a paddle in the pond on the way round the fields. All 3 made a point of coming up to say hi to everyone on the walk, especially Sikko who has to come and greet everyone many times!
When we put them back into their enclosure they trotted off to see what had happened in their absence, showing off to Mai and Motomo who are in the next enclosure to them.
We all had a few minutes rest to have a drink and change of clothes as by now we were very well warmed up!
Next rapidly out of their enclosure were Nuka, Tundra and Tala. All 3 were polite and greeted everyone, although this was short lived as they went charging off turbo style. It is certainly a good work out walking the Beenhams! They kept up speed for nearly an hour and didn’t stop much, so we had to slow them down by giving them a scratch while we wait for volunteers to check there are no dog walkers ahead.
Eventually they eased up and as handlers were swopped to different wolves, chains were dug out of wrists! It is always a great experience to walk the wolves and to see them so happy, enjoying re-scenting their territory from where the Arctics had been. We always remark on how lucky we are to be out with them and make the most of each walk.
We finished up the long walk in the bottom field where the wolves had a paddle and drink, sniffing around the stream, maybe seeing if any ducks have laid eggs in the tree down there. Nuka came across this a few years ago, luckily the nest was out of his reach!
Once back in their enclosure they all went off to the waterfall for a drink, while we headed back to have lunch and a rest.
As the weather had warmed up, we took the tortoises to their outside pen for the day and I made up some fresh food for them.
After refuelling we took Torak and Mosi out. Mosi was jumping up at the gate almost begging to come out – she does love her walks. She was talking away to anyone that would listen. Torak was eyeing up everyone to see if his handlers were present before he got excited! You could almost see him counting.
I decided to try and take some photos of them on the walk as I am not one of their handlers, since I haven’t known them from young. We followed the same sort of route as the previous walks but these two were jet propelled. They are almost 13 years old but have the energy of youngsters. I huffed and puffed along trying to get in front of them to get some shots….. not very successfully!
Torak is our most aloof wolf, who just walks along taking zero notice of anyone! Mosi struts along in a very confident manner and gives her handlers a real boot camp workout!
We walked them through our field past the back of the enclosures to finish off the walk, giving Mai, Motomo and the Arctics an opportunity to bounce around and run along the enclosure fence.
Once safely back in their enclosure, Torak was keen to sniff around and see if anyone had been in while he was out! We went to see if Mai wanted to come out and yes she did. However, as is her way these days, it lasted less than 10 minutes. Motomo was already howling before she left the enclosure! After a strong start with a lot of scenting, she about turned and strode back to her enclosure. Once back inside, she shot off to the fence showing off to the Arctics with Motomo stuck to her side.
It was then time to pay a visit to the Beenhams' enclosure. They all came bounding over to us and jumped up on the platform we go to stand by. Everyone had to have fusses and ear massages. Nuka became over excited and boisterous, so I had to give him a firm NO. He does understand the meaning behind this word and acts like a naughty puppy. We try not to laugh at him. When he’s told off, he has a moment of bravado and then runs off. Today he went right to the corner of the enclosure and sat down with his back to us. Was he sulking? It certainly looked like it!
After some time with the girls, we called him back and he did come over. He then flopped down and rolled onto his back, legs everywhere and demanded his slaves gave him rubs and scratches!
Reluctantly we left them alone as we still had to feed them and put the tortoises back inside.
Nuka, Tala and Tundra were hungry today. Tala stole some of Nuka’s food and Tundra went searching for someone else’s food leaving a large piece of Paunch (tripe) lying on the ground. Tala came trotting along and with Tundra in hot pursuit, grabbed the Paunch, swallowing it in one go, without stopping. Tundra looked disgusted but there was no evidence to prove Tala had taken it! Tala rolled onto her back and Tundra stood over her deciding what to do with her sister. In the end, she walked off in search of another titbit!
We all helped with the clearing up and left tired but very happy!
Update written by Eve
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The Beenhams, Torak and Mosi, Motomo
31st March 2019 - A Taste of Spring
Blue skies, still air and warm sunshine greeted us as we arrived on Saturday. After our customary biscuits and drinks, we went to fetch the Beenhams in order to take them for their walk.
Nuka, Tundra and Tala were keen to come out and as ever they enjoyed investigating the various smells. It must have been especially good conditions for them, as they ambled and meandered their way slowly around the fields and woodland, making the most of the opportunities to sniff out interesting scents. They didn't roll in anything especially unpleasant this time around, but when we came to the various water features (the ponds and streams) they had a good splash around. Indeed, with their full winter coats, strong sunshine and temperatures rising towards 20C they were glad of the chance to head into the water! Wolves sweat through their paws and standing hock-deep in water is a great way for them to cool down.
The walk took a fair bit longer than usual, as the wolves made the most of their time outside. That left us a short time for lunch, before we headed out again to see if Mai wanted to come out. She did, although it didn't take her long before she decided to head back to Motomo. There was time for a few rolls, though, and she made sure she over-scented where the Beenhams had been.
It was then time for something different. It's well-known that dogs enjoy peanut butter, as do wolves in other wolf centres around the world. I'd bought in a large pot of gloopy peanut butter (just peanuts, no salt or sugar) and we spread it on some cardboard - the idea was the wolves would have to work to get at it. So - if dogs enjoy it, what about wolves? It turns out they much preferred to roll on it as opposed to eat it. All of the ten wolves rolled like mad on it, leading to a lot of pictures of wolves with their paws flailing! They did lick at it, but rolling was definitely the order of the day. One of the things with keeping wolves in captivity is making sure they have enrichment, and they certainly had that!
We then fed the wolves as normal (no peanut butter this time), with the typical mixture of beef, chicken, deer and paunch being used.
To finish off, we then entered the enclosure with the Beenhams. All three wolves were as affectionate as ever, with Nuka having that wonderful mischievous look about him. Saturday's game was playing with his forepaws, which results in him trying to bat the handlers' hands with his massive paws. Tala was content to stand and be stroked, whereas Tundra went round to all of us, rubbing herself happily over us. At least this time the scent she left behind was peanut, a pleasant change from some of the less savoury things she sometimes covers herself in!
As the wolves wandered off, we left the enclosure, tidied up and reflected on another fun day with the wolves - it's fair to say everyone, wolves included, had an enjoyable day!
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It was another windy day but not cold or raining.
The first job of the morning is to check all wolves are present and OK. The wolves usually accompany us by walking alongside us albeit inside their enclosures. It soon became apparent this morning that Massak was very cross with Pukak. He was growling and chasing him and Pukak’s best submissive behaviour was not stopping this.
The Arctics were first out and were very excitable. They have not been out as much recently due to the breeding season when their hormone levels increase. Trying to collar them was great fun as we are unable to separate them due to the enclosure they are in not having separate bed blocks. We got there eventually and after a bit of initial growing at Pukak Massak settled down to enjoy his walk. We took them quite a way before eventually heading back.
A quick coffee break for us and the Beenhams were up next. Usually the Beenhams come charging out straight away but just as I opened the gate some people appeared on the public footpath and walked towards the Arctics. Sikko gave an alarm bark which stopped the Beenhams in their tracks. Tala was the only brave one who came out and stop up at the end of her enclosure so she could see what was going on and what the fuss was about. Sean appeared which meant the people moved on and as soon as the Arctics stopped reacting the Beenhams came out. They are always keen on their walks and as ever they were a pleasure. Some deep water meant there was lots of paddling in the pond and stream.
Next up was Mai. She comes up very easily nowadays but actually seems to want to have lots of fuss. Whist I try and collar her she is reversing into me so she gets attention. As soon as she is out she seeks out the people she knows and goes for a quick fuss. She mostly does not go very far before she wants to return but she did enjoy posing for photos amongst the daffodils. Mai is much thinner than the other wolves and does not have the same appetite she once had however when she wants to return to Motomo there is no hanging around. She is still incredibly strong and will drag her handler along behind her.
All wolves were then fed with Mai getting an extra treat of Sardines to try and encourage her to eat more. A jar of sprats were found in the food shed so someone thought it was a good idea to mash these into the fish. She clearly wasn’t fussed on the sprats as she kept dropping them out of her mouth onto the floor. Motomo also does not like fish but thinks it makes great aftershave. As we left, we could see he was rolling in the sprats and then with them stuck in his fur he was fence running alongside the Arctics to drive them mad with the smell.
As ever a great day at the Trust with the wolves showing their playful fun side.
Update written by Cammie.
10th March 2019
We all arrived at the trust having managed to negotiate fallen branches and flooded roads on the journey in.
The wolves didn’t seem unduly concerned about the windy conditions today. Sometimes it can make them a bit skittish.
We watched a pheasant who had found his way into Torak and Mosi’s enclosure. Torak walked straight past him and Mosi showed a vague interest. We noted the pheasant then appeared to be hiding behind a log for some time!
Our first task was to try and lure Torak and Mosi into their holding enclosure, which is still a large enclosure for them. The reason is due to some maintenance work to be carried out later in the week. Cammie took Linda and I off armed with 2 tins of fish as Torak loves this treat.
Mosi came up to us and get very interested in her fish! Torak knew exactly what we were up to and refused to walk through into the holding area, watching Cammie all the time, knowing she would close the gate once he was in there. After some time, Cammie left and walked away out of sight to see if that would change his mind. We watched him looking for her to appear further up the drive to ensure she really had gone, but when she didn’t show, he walked further off into the main enclosure. We gave up... Another example of just how intelligent they are and how good their memories are.
We all then wrapped up warm and went out with the Beenhams for their walk. Once again they were all very keen. Tala was pawing at the gate to get out as soon as her collar was on.
The weather was very windy but seemed to cause us more disturbance than the wolves. Nuka failed to find a dead squirrel this week. Interestingly they all stopped in the field were the dog walker with dog was last week and stubbornly just stood there for a few minutes, maybe hoping they would reappear.
All 3 wolves were keen to have a paddle in the stream and pond. Tundra got in right up to her belly, although from what I saw I don’t think she intended to go in that far! Once she hopped up the back, she had a vigorous shake, soaking me in mud and water. At this point I reminded myself it is their walk to do what they want (within reason).
Once again they all practised their rolling in something very smelly technique and seemed very pleased with themselves afterwards.
We all stopped for a bit of a break and warm up after they were back in their enclosure and then prepared their food and checked on the tortoises. They were both all snuggled up in their hay, so we left them alone and gave them fresh food.
Meanwhile, we checked to see if Mai wanted to come out for a walk, which she did. I rushed off to get camera and GoPro and caught up in a couple of minutes. All of the wolves were howling continuously and Mai stopped to listen. She then decided she’d have to go back and see what was going on, so it was about turn for Neil and Linda as they were unceremoniously marched back to her enclosure. I managed to get a quick couple of photos though! Motomo was waiting for her as she ran off to tease the Arctics with him in hot pursuit.
All the wolves ate their food quite quickly today, although Torak and Mosi took their time. There is now no sign of the pheasant...
We all went into the Beenhams' enclosure to socialise with them. All 3 stayed with us for a long time today. Tundra gave everyone a good head rub, resulting in us all going home with a rather pungent aroma hanging around. It looks like the breeding season is over for these 3 as Tala was allowed onto the platform by Tundra. For the last few months Tundra, being the alpha female, has chased her off, so we have been giving Tala sneaky fusses under the platform when Tundra wasn’t looking. Nuka was his usual playful self, at one point literally having his front paws on Pete (who was sitting on the platform) while he snuffled all around Pete’s head and shoulders.
Reluctantly we all left and headed home, marvelling at how lucky we are to have the opportunity to be around these wonderful wolves. Update written by Eve.
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2nd March 2019
Spring has arrived at the Trust and it was a mild, breezy day which greeted the volunteers as they arrived. Mosi and Torak watched the arrivals as usual and after we'd all had a drink we headed down to the Beenhams. The wolves were as eager as ever; indeed, Nuka fairly skipped along in his happiness. This was somewhat short-lived, though, as he soon found a decaying squirrel underneath a leaf pile. We didn't want him to have it, so after a short distance he dropped it and was taken away from it.
We went around the long strip of woodland known as Ridges' Belt and as we rounded the far end Nuka spied a small dog coming towards us (off the lead). He, of course, wanted to get closer than we'd allow and after realising that he wasn't going to have an impromptu "meet and greet" with the dog, he slowly plodded along, the spring having gone from his step.
Still, Nuka's never down for long and he perked up again as we came back around the large field near the allotments. His mood (as well as that of his sisters) improved further when Lara, Tsa's daughter, came over to say hello. It's a wonderful sight to see the wolves around her, for they give a most enthusiastic greeting!
Lara then accompanied us down past their enclosure and down to the Bourne, whereupon the wolves had an extended break. I was with Tundra at this stage, who delighted in stopping by everyone in turn, asking for a fuss. Nuka did his trademark "flop" and indeed all the wolves seemed especially contented.
We then had a break ourselves, for lunch, then took Mai out for a short walk. She was keen to come out, but equally keen to return to Motomo after a short while - she's always torn between her desire to see the outside world and her desire for Motomo!
We then said hello to the Arctics, before heading into the Beenhams' enclosure. As is traditional, Tundra did her neck rubbing (where she lifts herself up, then "flomps" on our heads, rubbing herself) and Nuka eyed me up for some fun. In the end he flopped on his side, keeping a watchful eye - I suspect he was thinking of his game of last month. However, others came over and joined in the fuss and in the end he decided having several people stroking him was better than bounding to all fours!
After a while the wolves drifted away and we went to prepare their food; a mixture of beef, chicken and paunch.
The wolves were generally keen to eat their food and before long we were washing out their food buckets and saying our goodbyes - another successful day at the Trust!
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