Inside a log-cabin building an impressive wolf exhibit was lined up. I immediately touched base with Dawn Fleuchaus, the Area Supervisor for wolves at the zoo. She explained that the zoo has been participating in Wolf Awareness Week for about 15 years- About the same time their first wolf pack arrived. Initially the pack consisted of 5 gray wolves, and now a lone male, Nikan, is all that remains. That pack arrived from the Wildlife Science Center, and came with some socialization skills and were acclimated to work with zoo staff. It seems Nikan, an “old man” at 16.5 years old, is more motivated for the female staff versus male staff, and will come out of his den to greet them and conduct training sessions. Having started out as a cub at the zoo in 1999, they have seen Nikan slow down a lot in his recent years but he still has a great quality of life according to Fleuchaus.
At one point, Fleuchaus and staff put on a treat session where foods were strategically placed throughout the wolf habitat for Nikan to find. For example, rawhides, different scents and the favorite, a frozen chicken in a log, were scattered in front of the viewing area for people to see. Nikan made his way from one item to the next, and finally took the log and ran to find a place to cache it for later eating.
The remainder of my time was spent listening to an informative talk by Gloriann Klein, a wolf advocate from “Wolf Info Now.” She spoke of issues surrounding gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and Wisconsin. She covered a broad range of material from wolf biology to wolf management. To learn more from Gloriann, click here.
In conclusion the Milwaukee County Zoo put on a great event for the public. There was informational fun to be had by all. I hope that you were able to attend an event for Wolf Awareness Week as well!
A northern Wisconsin native, Keri is passionate about wildlife issues. She has a degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine, and also is an educator. Keri is a writer for Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin. In her free time, Keri enjoys hiking and camping in the north woods.
Thanks to Rachel Tilseth, the founder of the Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin
for allowing me to share this wonderful post! Good work, Keri!