Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

By: Zookeeper Maicie Sykes

Well, it's been almost two months now since the gray wolves arrived and our boys are settling in! Recently, the carnivore Zookeepers were given the privilege of naming them. After one of the wolves was brought to the zoo with an injury on his face, he was referred to as "Scarface." Keeping with a gangster theme, the wolves were renamed Capone (Al Capone), and his brothers, Dillinger (John Dillinger) and Cohen (Mickey Cohen). The brothers are on their own for the first time, trying to figure out the dynamics of their pack. Currently, our two white wolves seem to be vying for the position of alpha male. Dillinger, our red-colored wolf is taking the position of the omega wolf, the lowest individual of a pack. Wolves show their social rank with a variety of behaviors, body positions, and movements. A dominant wolf will walk confidently, raise its hackles, growl, eat before others, and urinate with a raised leg. A subordinate wolf like Dillinger, will lower his tail and body position into a crouch, urinate in a squatting position, and make whining or squealing noises. While our wolves are displaying different social ranks within their pack, they may change positions at any point. Social ranking can change when wolves grow older, become wounded or ill, or as they alter their alliances with other pack members. You will be able to see these behaviors in action and study the fluid dynamics of a wolf pack the next time you visit the Lake Superior Zoo.

posted by Keely Johnson at


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