Characteristics: Wolves usually weigh between 60 to 120 pounds with males being heavier than females. They stand 27 to 33 inches at the shoulder and measure 60 to 72 inches in length. A wolf’s tail is long and bushy and usually carried down or straight out, but never curled. A wolf’s coat consists of a dense layer of soft, fine fur topped by long guard hairs, which give the coat its color. The color of the coat ranges from white to black shades of brown and gray.
Lifespan: 6-8 years in the wild and up to 16 years in captivity
Habitat: Taigas, prairies, forests, bushlands, and grasslands.
Range: Wolves were once common throughout all of North America but were killed in most areas of the United States by the mid 1930s. Today their range has been reduced to Canada and the following portions of the United States: Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Mexican wolves are found in New Mexico and Arizona.
Diet: Wolves eat elk, deer, moose, caribou, beaver, rabbits, and other small prey. Wolves are also scavengers and often eat animals that have died due to other causes like starvation and disease.
Behavior: Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of about 4-7 animals. Packs include the mother and father wolves, called the alphas, their pups and several other subordinate or young animals. The alpha female and male are the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack’s territory. Wolves develop close relationships and strong social bonds.
Wolves have a complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls. While they don’t howl at the moon, they do howl more when it’s lighter at night, which occurs more often when the moon is full.
Keeper Notes: Montana (female) was born in 2004 and Apache (male) was born in 2010. Both animals were born in captivity and came to Ochsner Park Zoo from other North American zoos. Montana has white fur while Apache has a darker brown coat and is larger. Montana is a timber wolf and Apache is a timber wolf/arctic wolf cross.