Mexican Wolves at Play
by Holly Payne
June 9, 2008
Springtime temperatures at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park have been above 90°F during the day. However, the mornings have been very cool. Over several mornings I have observed our six Mexican wolves exhibit many different play behaviors. They seem to utilize the differing topography of our exhibit to display ambush/stalk play. I have observed one wolf stand downhill by the fence line and watch one or more of his brothers. He would then race up the hill towards the others as if to scare them. Then, the chasing would begin!
I have also observed locomotor play. The wolves were trotting along in a bouncy gate and one wolf grabbed another on his back. The playful chasing began again!
Another play behavior that I have observed is the tail wag. I saw this behavior when all six wolves were standing on top of the hill and play time continued. One morning I heard some vocalizations but I could not see the wolves. They were playfully interacting at the time.
My observations have been made early in the morning before the zoo is open. It is very quiet and no visitors are in the zoo yet. I feel very lucky to have observed these play behaviors and hope to see more soon!
About the author:
Holly Payne is Animal Curator at the Living Desert Zoo
and Gardens State Park in Carlsbad, New Mexico
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