The Arctic Wolf pack, at Knuthenborg Safaripark, grew by seven this spring!
The pups began emerging, a few weeks ago, from their cave at the Wolf Forest exhibit. Now, they are regularly out and about…but never too far from their attentive and protective mom.
The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also known as the Melville Island Wolf, is a possible subspecies of Gray Wolf and is native to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is a medium-sized subspecies, distinguished from the northwestern wolf by its smaller size, its whiter coloration, its narrower braincase, and larger carnassials.
Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 7 to 8 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders, and they track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack's territory. Wolves are known to develop strong social bonds within their packs.
Their breeding season occurs once a year, usually in late January through March. Gestation period lasts for about 63 days, and the pups are born blind and defenseless. Litters average four to seven pups. The pack cares for the young, until they fully mature at about 10 months of age and can hunt on their own. Once grown, young wolves may disperse. Dispersing wolves have been known to travel 50 to 500 miles.
The Arctic Wolf is white throughout the year, even though it often roams forests where there is no snow. During the winter the coat is thick and warm. In spring, the winter coat molts, and during this period the wolf can look rather tatty. Wolves are shy but nevertheless courageous. Packs of wolves often attack Bison or Musk Ox, which weigh more than ten times as much as a wolf. Wolves can travel up to 200 km (124 miles) in a single day – and run at speeds of up to 65 km/h (40 mph).
The Arctic Wolf is classified as “Least Concern”, according to the IUCN, but it does face threats of endangerment. In 1997, there was a decline in the Arctic Wolf population and its prey, Musk Oxen (Ovibos moschatus) and Arctic Hares (Lepus arcticus). This was due to harmful weather conditions, during the summers, for four years.
The Arctic Wolf population also began to decrease as human populations became denser in certain areas. During the 1930s, in east Greenland, the Arctic Wolf was exterminated completely by Danish and Norwegian hunters. In 1979, they began to repopulate the area and successfully established a new population of wolves.
More great pics, below the fold!