International Wolf Center - A Tribute to Shadow
Shadow, an ambassador wolf pack leader at the International Wolf Center in Ely, was euthanized July 2, only months after the loss of his littermate. The 14-year-old wolf, who joined the IWC’s resident pack in 2000 with his brother, Malik, had been living alone since Malik was euthanized on March 21. The two had been housed in the Center’s Retired Enclosure for about four years.Shadow and Malik were arctic wolves, known for their distinctive white coats.
On July 2, staff monitoring Shadow on the IWC’s surveillance cameras noticed increased panting in response to the warmer part of the day, and by afternoon the wolf had difficulty standing and was displaying other physical indications of neurological problems. Staff witnessed a rapid and progressive decline in his condition in less than two hours.
A necropsy conducted by the University of Minnesota diagnostics lab revealed that the cause of Malik’s rapid decline was a ruptured mass on his kidney that resulted in internal bleeding, and that he would have likely succumbed to blood loss if he had not been euthanized, according to the IWC.
The decision was made to implement the Center’s euthanasia plan following a consultation among the wolves’ vets at the Ely Veterinarian Clinic and the IWC’s vet care team.
“Malik’s euthanasia was only a few months ago, and this is not our first experience of seeing the decline of retired wolves in such close proximity to each other,” said Lori Schmidt, IWC wolf curator. “In 2008, after 1993 littermate MacKenzie died of a pulmonary embolism, remaining littermate Lakota showed a decline less than six months later. Wolves are social pack animals so, especially for aging social pack animals, the loss of one can affect the activity and attitude of the remaining pack member.”
Shadow was the dominant leader in the Exhibit Pack from the fall of 2002 until his retirement in July 2010. As the pack leader, he was engaged in much more physical dominance than his littermate Malik, and the energy needed to lead a pack appeared to take its toll as he aged, according to the IWC. “Shadow had a strong personality and led the pack with definitive behaviors, both social and dominant,” Schmidt said. “He had many alliances among his fellow ambassador wolves and the wolf care staff that provided daily care.” Shadow and his fellow ambassador wolves have educated thousands of visitors at the exhibit as well as via the IWC’s weekly YouTube videos, wolf logs and webcams.