Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Howling Harmony

Written by: Zookeeper Maicie

Now that we have our three gray wolves at the Lake Superior Zoo, it is a common occurrence for the Zookeepers to hear our visitors trying to get them to howl. Hearing the kids (and adults) give their best yowl makes us chuckle, but also reflect on why wolves howl? After a little reading, I learned howling helps a pack reassemble, attract a mate, stimulate a pack before a hunt and startle prey. They also may howl when they feel disturbed and cannot run away, upon waking, after playing, sometimes out of frustration, to announce an intruder, or even just for fun.

R. D. Lawrence, author of Trail of the Wolf, states, "Wolves probably howl for a variety of reasons, one of which, I am convinced, is that they enjoy doing so." Howls can last from half a second up to eleven seconds. Larger wolves tend to have deeper voices than smaller, younger wolves. In addition, when howling, wolves shift the pitch of their howl to have almost a harmonic effect.

When Capone, Cohen and Dillinger arrived, they were quiet for a period, but recently we have been hearing their vocalizations. When I heard them for the first time, I remember experiencing a strange, uplifting feeling in my chest. It made me very happy to hear something that comes so natural to them and know we are providing a comfortable, new home. We hope that you too get to hear our boys the next time you visit the Lake Superior Zoo.

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posted by Keely Johnson at


Blogger Keely Johnson said...

I am excited to hear their vocalizations! I've never heard a real live wolf howl, just recorded ones on nature programs on tv. What an amazing experience to have so near! As I am writing this from my desk, I hear Leo the lion roaring. I LOVE the sounds of the zoo!

March 17, 2011 at 4:40 PM  
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