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We arrived on site and as usual we checked all wolves were OK. The first job is to put the Beenhams in their holding area as it makes it much easier to get them out for their walk. Normally we can tempt them into the area with a tin of fish which they all love. Today, however, Tundra had other plans and was blocking Nuka from getting through the gate. Tala got the whole supply of fish which she was very happy about. I walked into the enclosure myself knowing that they will follow me however the difficulty is then getting back to the gate to shut it before they see you move and race you back to the gate. I got there first but Nuka was right behind me and when I turned to try and block him he took this for a play signal and immediately went into a play bow. Whilst he is a lovely playful wolf we never encourage playing with them as they are much stronger than us and it could quickly escalate. I gave up on trying to get him in the holding area.
Around 10 minutes later we all went down to take them out for a walk. Their walk is optional and is they don’t want to go they can simply walk away from us. They do, however, nearly always come as they enjoy it so much. Nuka then came straight up but Tundra and Tala were standing in the gate. If a handler gives them a quick fuss they always flop onto their back and it is easy for a second person to put their chain on.
The walk set off along the site. We are walking past all the other wolves as we are still avoiding a new bridge that they are getting used to. The weather was mild but very wet and windy. The wolves are often spooked more easily in the wind and it was whilst passing the Arctic wolves and a tortoise box that Nuka spooked. This is unusual for him and he is normally very placid but he decided to place his paw on top of his lead. He then seemed to have got his dewclaw caught in the chain, so Sean got the job of freeing his foot. This was met with a growl from Nuka and it is at times like this when you trust in the relationship you have built up over the years. Nuka was freed and the walk continued.
Finding something smelly to roll in is something all the wolves like to do. This week they excelled themselves and found something extremely fresh and wet. Nuka rolled and then shook himself so his handler was also splattered. The rest of the walk smelt disgusting even by their standards. We all agreed that today we would not go in the enclosure as we normally do as we knew we would be rubbed on and covered in the same smell.
After the walk we took a quick lunch break and then took Mai out. Affectionately known to us as the queen of the trust she is looking wonderful for her age. We were also surprised how clean she looks when it had been raining hard all day and the other wolves all had muddy legs. She was spotless. When she came out for her walk, she made it clear she wanted lots of fuss from her handlers. She was standing for ages rubbing against people and then we realised Mosi was jumping up at the fence getting angry with her. Despite the fact they fell out years ago the hostility between them has never stopped and Mai definitely seemed to be winding her up on purpose. We continued with her walk around the back of the trust as Motomo can keep an eye on her and doesn't need to keep howling to keep in touch.
Walks and feeding all completed we went home to dry ourselves out and look forward to next time. Update and Tala/Tundra photos by Cammie, other photos by Eve.
Mai, Tala and Tundra
20th October 2019
When I arrived Mosi and Torak were waiting to see who was coming in today. Mosi was very vocal, howling with anyone who’d howl with her. It was good to see her interacting with everyone. A couple of us went down to entice the Beenhams into their holding area before we took the Arctics out. We had a tin of sardines with us in case they weren’t interested! Today though, all 3 ran straight in without any enticing, but we gave them the fish anyway. Nuka loves this and rubs himself along the fence trying to get fishy smells all over him!
Massak, Pukak and Sikko came out and walked up through the trust where the back up handlers clipped on. We had to wait for some walkers and their dogs to walk past, just outside the trust, which unnerved the wolves as they like to just get going once out of their enclosure. All 3 were very interested in everything today, smelling and scenting along the way through all of the fields. We let them decide where they wanted to go once we were in the top field, all deciding to go round the copse before heading back towards the trust. Once we were heading back, all 3 slowed down as if to suggest they wanted to keep going. We cut through the trust between the enclosures of Mosi and Torak and Mai and Motomo, through to the field at the back of the enclosures. None of the Arctics pay any attention to the other wolves as we walk by, unlike the Beenhams, in particular Tala, who gets rather worked up trying to get to Mosi. At the bottom of the fields they all went into the stream and had a drink, before heading back into their enclosure. We had to change their water bucket, meaning the hard standing gate needs to stay open while we get the bucket. Due to this the wolves kept coming back onto the hard standing instead of charging off into their enclosure. The handlers obliged and gave them a bit of a fuss before they finally walked back through the gate.
We had been out for quite a while so came back inside for hot drinks and something to eat. Thankfully, so far there was no rain, but it was cloudy and quite cold. The Beenhams were keen to come out and raced onto the hard standing as soon as their enclosure gate was opened. We have to be quick to ensure Tala and Tundra are in separate areas of the hard standing. If not, Tundra, being the Alpha, takes full advantage of Tala being in an enclosed space to dominate her. We were all marched off at a fast pace and we remarked how different it is to walk the Beenhams to the Arctics, who mostly do just amble along. Throughout the walk, all 3 wolves were finding all the scenting the Arctics had carried out on their walk. Nuka sniffed at the new tyres on the tractor and due to his love of rubber, we were surprised when he took no notice of them, unlike his mother Mai the other week who rubbed herself all over them! Nuka did find something smelly to rub all over himself, as usual, but the girls stayed clean. There was a bit of hanging around in the bottom field before we went home, maybe due to us not walking up to Mosi or the Arctics. They had a bit of a grumble with each other instead!
After a brief break Mosi and Torak were taken out for a short walk while the rest of us cleaned out the tortoises and prepared food for them and the wolves. It was reported back that they really enjoyed the walk. Mosi was pulling her handlers along, so very good to know she is doing well after the medication for her leg. The meds have been reduced to lessen side effects and to re-evaluate the swelling on her leg, now much subsided. Sundays are always a full on action day as we try to fit in 4 walks for all of the wolves’ enrichment. Mai was keen to come out so we took her all around the back field where Motomo could keep an eye on her. Despite that, he started up his mournful howl. Not to be left out, the Arctics and Beenhams soon joined in. Mai just marched on paying no attention to any of them! Once she was back in her enclosure, Motomo who was waiting, charged after her as she raced over to the Arctics and off they all went along the fence to the back of the enclosure. This is a ritual that all wolves appear to enjoy. I watched Motomo come for a drink at the water trough, only to be headed out of the way by Mai, who didn’t even have a drink! After this he sniffed around her checking out what she had been up to – and who with!
We all took a bucket each and fed the wolves who ate all of their food, showing their appetites are good and the management of the amounts being given is accurate. The amounts are adjusted from time to time, depending, over a period of weeks, how the wolves’ appetites change. It is a pleasure being able to hand feed them. Once you show them the empty bucket, they wander away, not interested in us at all anymore! There was enough time for the end of the day treat – going into he enclosure of Nuka, Tundra and Tala. All 3 ran over and jumped up on the platform to greet us. Nuka gave each of us in turn a sloppy kiss and then took an interest in one of Sue’s jacket pockets. She quietly said he did not want to go in there, to which he almost huffed and bounded off the platform and away to sit on his own. He seems to know when he can’t get his own way and then moves off as if to say well if I can’t do that, I’m leaving. Tundra and Tala then set to all of us with the head massages, apart from Cammie as they don’t seem to like her coconut shampoo. Today I had a real head massage and both girls were taking a side and shoulder each. You really feel how strong they are as they use a lot of force to almost lay on you as they rub their necks and shoulders over your head. The girls then started arguing over my head so I moved away. Tala raised a paw at me, as if to say come back I want to do it again! After a while, they both ran off to lay down and digest their food, so we all left, just before the rain came! We all had a tiring but fabulous and full day with the howling wolves. Update and some photos by Eve, Mosi and Torak rolling photos by Cammie.
Mai, Motomo, Mosi and Torak
12th October 2019
We all arrived carrying wellies and waterproofs due to the nonstop rain! When we were open to the public it was very rare to cancel a walk and just in case you were wondering, we still go out with the wolves in all weathers! It was good to see Mosi and Torak standing close together when I arrived. Her medication has been reduced and she seemed more her old self. Instead of getting the Beenhams into the holding enclosure before the walk, today it was decided to bring them onto the hard standing from their main enclosure. This is an exercise that fails mostly and today was no exception. All 3 wolves played and jumped around and showed zero interest in us and the hard standing. We went into the enclosure but they were too busy chasing and running around each other and paying attention to everything else, except us. We came back onto the hard standing and Sean went off to get some fish to entice them into the holding area as they tend to come onto the hard standing willingly from there. Cammie went in to open the holding area gate while all 3 wolves came and stood quietly behind her, waiting. As soon as the gate was open, in they went all calm and well behaved. Sean gave them the fish and as soon as we opened up the hard standing, in they trotted. It seems we were being told, no fish, no walk!
Despite the rain, we had a great walk with Tundra, Tala and Nuka. Only Tala rolled around in something smelly today. Once we got to the bottom field, the church bells started and soon enough all 3 wolves were singing their song in tune to the bells. We all love to stand quietly listening to them as the sound goes straight into you. There was plenty of time for all 3 to have lots of fusses with us with Nuka falling over at any opportunity to get a belly rub.
After the walk we made a big fuss of the Arctics who were excited to see us and we then went back into the dry for our lunch. After we were all fed and watered, we took Mai out who was eager to explore. She took an unusual interest in the tractor, rubbing herself all around the front wheels which is more like Nuka’s preference! Upon closer inspection, we realised the tyres were new. Nuka also loves new rubber which is great fun for him when he finds someone wearing new wellies! Mai had a good walk all around the big field and then, as is her usual way, marched everyone back to her enclosure where Motomo and the Arctics were waiting. True to form, she ignored Motomo, ran over to the Arctics and ran all the way up the fencing with them and Motomo in hot pursuit. Later Motomo could be seen sniffing her all over, wondering why she was giving off a strange aroma.
While there was a brief dry spell, we took the tortoises outside and they enjoyed a walk and quite a long time munching on clover. I cleaned up their pen and noticed how cosy it was in there now the heat lamp is coming on for them. We prepared their food which they completely ignored when they were back in their pen, having filled themselves up on clover. Having prepared all the food for the wolves, we fed them and noted down who was hungry, very hungry and not so hungry.
The rain started again, but we went in to Tundra, Tala and Nuka’s enclosure for some quality time with them. Nuka, unusually for him gave a few of us the head rubbing treatment, which we noted was stronger than the girls’ head rubs. He had a go at bouncing around on the platform wanting us to play. Once he realised he wasn’t getting anywhere with that idea, he launched himself off the platform, over my head, using my back as leverage with one of his front paws. Then he was gone, leaving the 2 girls to get some more fusses from us. Before the heavy rain came, we reluctantly left them and all headed home. It was a great day in the company of wolves. Update and most photos by Eve, Tala photo by Matt.
Arctics, Mai, Tala and the Beenhams
6th October 2019
Having rained all night it was rewarding to see clear skies and lots of sun this morning when we arrived at the Trust.
After the Beenhams were cajoled into heir holding area with some fish, we ventured out first with Massak, Pukak and Sikko, our Arctic wolves. It was quite windy this morning which seemed to make Sikko a little skittish to begin with, but after a while, once we were in the open fields, she settled down. All 3 found very dark and smelly deposits to roll around in, making their pristine white coats look decidedly grubby. The walk was uneventful, although Massak spent some time now and again with tail held high grumbling at Pukak, for what appeared to be for no apparent reason! The grumble/growls is a wonderful sound to hear so close up.
Once back in their enclosure, we said hi to Mosi who was squeaking and doing her usual howl greeting. As it had warmed up, I took the tortoises outside for some clover and sunshine, while we all had a drink before taking out the Beenhams, Nuka, Tundra and Tala for their walk.
All 3 were keen as usual to get out and greeted all of us, with Nuka bouncing about, defying his mature adult wolf age of 8 and a half years. We had a muntjac craftily run out behind us without the wolves seeing him, but usually they don’t chase animals that appear. As they are fed regularly, they are not in the mood for chasing prey. In the wild they can go 2-3 weeks without eating, so here they are well cared for! The weather had warmed up and the wolves enjoyed having a dip in the bottom field stream, with Tala churning up the water and all of them having a good drink. Nuka found some very strong smelling fox poo that he ecstatically rolled in for a while. This smell, even if you don’t come into contact with it, may stay with you even once you have reached home! We all stopped for some fusses in the field behind the enclosure before heading back. Always a special time, the Beenhams are much more keen for a fuss than the Arctics are on their walks. Tundra jumped into the trough once they were back in their enclosure while we left them to it and headed back for another drink and some lunch.
The clouds were starting to thicken so we were keen to take Torak and Mosi out before the rains came. They had both been following our movements all day, checking to see if the right people were here to take them out. Once they were out we walked through the field behind the enclosures. It was good to see Mosi more her old self. Her medication has been reduced recently which has helped her regain her demeanour. She had a howling session which is always great fun to witness – her eyes often look cross-eyed in mid-howl. Torak maintained his usual aloof and regal posture while all the other wolves heads appeared amongst the tall grasses, watching the proceedings.
After Torak and Mosi were back in their enclosure, we took Mai out who as usual stormed along with her tail in the air, showing off to all the other wolves watching her parade. Motomo followed her progress from their enclosure. After 4 walks, there were a lot of tired human legs, but no doubt no tired wolves' legs!
The food for them and the tortoises was prepared and everyone was fed. It was noted most of the wolves were hungry, which is to be expected at this time of year. Their food intake is monitored and the amount increased should they continue to ‘wolf’ down their food. We had to clean out the tortoises pen again! Now they have nice new fresh hay and food. We brought them back inside after they had been munching on the clover outside and enjoying the sunshine.
Quite a few people left after feeding, leaving only a few of us to enjoy the delights of spending time in the enclosure of Nuka, Tala and Tundra. I stayed outside for a while, hoping to catch a few photos of the greetings and was not disappointed. Nuka tried to encourage some play and then scooted off. Both of the girls carried out some lovely dance moves as they rubbed themselves over everyone’s heads. By the time I got in there they had lost interest and wandered off for a rest and digest their dinners. It was a wonderful day and we all left a bit tired, but very happy! Update by Eve.