Behavioural observations

Melanie Kaluppa (intern)



My job at the WSC is to observe the behaviour of wolves and dogs. Basically I have to code the interactions and behaviors between the individual animals in their pack.

The sun has already risen when I get to the WSC. It´s 7 o`clock. I leave the test house and Amarok and Kenai are already standing at the fence of the enclosure and looking at me.

Amarok and Kenai are two of the 14 wolves of the WSC. To be precise they are North American Grey Wolves primarily. Two males in one enclosure, that doesn't go smoothly, one would think. But although Amarok likes to show Kenai his place in the pack, they are also good friends. And it is not uncommon for them to be seen taking a nap close together or doing mischief with one another.

I go on to Taima and Tekoa, two shy wolves with a strong character. TnT as the trainers affectionately call them. Taima and Tekoa are siblings. You can see that their mother was a mixed-race European Wolf. They reveal themselves by their small size and the color of Tekoa's fur. Especially in the morning you can see them playing together. They chase each other through the enclosure or nibble playfully at each other.

My next stop is the enclosure of Nanuk and Una, a couple in love. Nanuk is already an 11 year old senior wolf, Una is three years younger. Watching Nanuk is always very soothing. He always seems very relaxed, although he gets nervous when his Una is out on a walk without him.

As I move on to Geronimo, Yukon and Wamblee, the only pack of three, I can see how Wamblee asks the beautiful, bright Yukon to play. Geronimo, the partner of Yukon, is not that happy about it and shows it unmistakably with a stiff posture, an upright tail and deep growling. Unfortunately, the amiable Wamblee doesn't want to understand and keeps trying until the others get angry.

Of course I also stop at Maikan and Etu, two males and both 4 years old, and at Chitto and Tala, the dream couple. The blue eyes of Chitto, which are so seldom, amaze me again and again.
Chitto's submissive behaviour towards Tala is interesting to watch every time. Tala is the boss of these two.

Finally I go to the dogs. There are 6 in number at the moment, divided into 3 packs. First to Imara and Hiari, then to Zuri and Enzi.

Lastly I visit Panya and Layla. I first have to pass through the dog´s house to get to their enclosure. Layla is Panya's mother and both of them are always very excited when someone comes to visit them. It is not easy not to actively pay attention to them when they bring a stick or stone to the fence. But neutrality is important in the observations. Panya and Layla are mostly very nice to each other. You can always observe a friendly greeting or how they lie snuggled together in their little hut.

There is so much that can be said about all the animals here, much more than I can write in a short blog entry. I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to get to know them personally and I will never forget my time at the WSC!