Canadian Timber Wolf

Overview

At Woburn Safari Park there is a mixed exhibit made up of a small family of wolves, male Akela, and female Tala.

These wolves live in a 13 acre enclosure which they share with our North American Black Bears.

The Canadian timber wolf is the largest subspecies of wolf, living and hunting in packs of up to ten or 12 members in the wild. They are the most wide-ranging of carnivores and can take prey up to ten times their size because of their hunting techniques.

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Distribution: Northern Hemisphere, including Canada and Alaska.
Habitat: Woodlands, mountains and tundra (arid grassland)
Height: Up to 52cm at shoulder. Length: 1 to 1.3m including tail
Weight: 23 to 79 kg
Lifespan: 6 to 8 years (10-15 years in captivity)
Threats: Hunting due to conflict with humans

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Scientific name: Canis lupus

Despite the name ‘grey wolf’ the timber wolf’s coat can actually range from white, brown, black to grey in colour. The wolf has a double coat of fur; long guard hairs on top and a layer of soft insulating underfur. The guard hairs can be as long as four inches and works to help shed moisture like a raincoat. Their underfur keeps the wolf warm in the cold months and is shed in summer.

 

Males tend to be up to 20% bigger and heavier compared to females.

Despite the name ‘grey wolf’ the timber wolf’s coat can actually range from white, brown, black to grey in colour. The wolf has a double coat of fur; long guard hairs on top and a layer of soft insulating underfur. The guard hairs can be as long as four inches and works to help shed moisture like a raincoat. Their underfur keeps the wolf warm in the cold months and is shed in summer.

Wolves have a total of 42 teeth, of which 40 of them will help secure their prey when hunting. The incisors at the front of the jaw are used to cut the flesh of their prey. The largest teeth are the canines, which can reach almost two and a quarter inches in length. These are used to pierce into the flesh to hold their prey. The premolars and molars are used for slicing and grinding meat. The last premolars in the upper jaw and first molars in the lower jaw, also know as the carnassials are especially designed to slice and shear flesh. The last molars are used for grinding and pulverizing the food prior to digestion.

The wolf’s sense of smell is around 100 times better than that of a human. They use their sense of smell to locate prey. Wolves have the ability to smell prey before they can see it, from more than a mile away if the wind is right.

 

 

Giraffe are herbivores and they have a long prehensile tongue that is 45 centimetres long to help them to reach up into trees and pull down leaves. They are able to eat up to 134 kilograms of leaves a day and they will spend 16 to 20 hours a day feeding. They feed on the leaves and shoots of over a 100 different plant species however they will mainly feed on the leaves of the Acacia and the Combretum trees. Acacia trees have very large sharp thorns but due to the giraffe’s tough tongue and lips this doesn’t bother them. The giraffe in its habitat faces no competition for food from other species. Often males are seen feeding with their neck and head stretched vertically whilst females tend to feed on lower vegetation with their neck bent and head held down.

Giraffe do not migrate and this is due to the fact that they are able to extract all the moisture they need from their diet but they will drink every few days when water is available. Due to the enormity of the length of their neck they have valves in the blood vessels of their neck which stop the blood from rushing to their head when they bend down to drink. They also have a very efficient digestive system which allows them to absorb all the nutrients from their diet.

 

 

Male giraffe have to establish their dominance by ‘necking’. This is a behaviour in which two males stand side by side and swing their necks in order to thump their heads into the body of the other male. This form of sparring can be quite gentle if a dominant bull is with a young juvenile but with two strong dominant bulls it can become very aggressive. Serious injuries can be sustained and in some cases they can knock each other out.

Mating can occur throughout the year and after a gestation period of 14 to 15 months the female will give birth standing up to a single calf. The new born is usually able to stand 20 minutes after birth and will measure around 1.8 metres tall.

A few hours after birth, calves are able to run around and play however for the first two weeks of their life they will spend a lot of time lying down being closely guarded by their mother. The calf will gain an extra two metres in height during its first year and will be weaned from their mother at the age of one. Females will often remain nearby to their mothers for life but males at the age of three will join other bachelors where although they are able to breed it is unlikely they will get the opportunity to mate before the age of seven due to competition.

 

 

Giraffe are a very sociable species and they are not territorial. They will form loose herds that have no permanent members within variable home ranges. Adult females that have young tend to associate more with one another as the calves will tend to form crèches and stay close together. Males tend to leave their mothers at three years of age and they will usually form a roaming bachelor herd until they are dominant enough to breed.

 

 

Giraffe used to be hunted for their tails alone that were used as fly swats, good luck charms and thread for sewing! However their main threats now are habitat loss and poaching for their meat and hides.

 

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