Heartstrings around the country were tugged in the spring of 2014 when we learned about five orphaned gray wolf pups that were rescued from the massive Funny River Wildfire in Alaska. Two female and three male pups were rescued from an abandoned den by local firefighters and were brought to the Alaska Zoo to be treated for dehydration and even porcupine quill punctures. As they were being cared for by the Alaska Zoo staff, these pups healed properly and were even strong enough to make the trip down to the Minnesota Zoo where they have made their permanent home along the Medtronic Minnesota Trail, thanks to our friends at Delta Air Lines.

These five wolves – Hooper, Huslia, Gannett, Xray and Stebbins – were a great addition to the Minnesota Zoo family and are an excellent example of how wildlife can be saved when organizations work together. The firefighters were so interested in the health and safety of these animals that they even flew the head of their crew to the Zoo for the pups public debut in September of 2014. Today, the pack is often seen running around playing tag and tug of war with the branches and other enrichment items their zookeepers provide them. This play behavior will transition into displays of dominance and submission – all part of establishing a pack structure. Hooper is currently the largest of the pack.

Did you know? Gray wolves have a sense of smell 80 times stronger than humans. This helps them track, hunt, communicate, and avoid danger.

You can learn more about this amazing species on our upcoming Wild Wolf EdVenture trips coming up this winter/spring in Ely, MN.