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Salmon Saturday

Lakota leaves his salmon to steal Sierra's fish.

Lakota leaves his salmon to steal Sierra’s fish.by Marisa Pushee, Animal Care Assistant, Wolf Haven International

Merlin carries his salmon

Merlin carries his salmon.

Here at Wolf Haven International, we feed a wide range of raw meats to our resident animals. Whenever possible, we source meat that would otherwise go to waste. One of the special treats we offer the wolves is salmon. In the photo above, Lakota abandons his salmon in favor of stealing one from his companion, Sierra. Luckily, she promptly reclaimed his abandoned fish.

Pike Place Fish Co. donates the salmon. The world famous seafood vendor at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington is known for its “flying fish presentations” where their fishmongers throw the fish in the air when they make a sale.  While the demonstration draws in the crowds at the market, the rough handling is too much for expensive salmon.

Bucket of salmon

Bucket of salmon.

This is where chum salmon enters as a stunt double for the wild king salmon. These stunt fish are thrown in the air several times before they are discarded. As these fish cannot be sold, Pike Place Fish Co. donates them to Wolf Haven International and other wildlife facilities. The salmon is deeply frozen for several days, and the extreme low temperatures of -5 degrees Fahrenheit kill any microorganisms that could pose a risk for the wolves, including Neorickettsia helminthoeca, the bacteria responsible for producing a fatal gastrointestinal infection in domestic dogs. We are only able to feed our animals the wild salmon because it has been deeply frozen in a commercial freezer.

Lonnie rolling on his salmon

Lonnie rolling on his salmon.

The wolves love the novelty of the fish. The salmon also provide high quality protein, fat, and minerals to the wolves. We are so happy to provide this exciting and nutritious food to the wolves and thank Pike Place Fish Co. for their support.

 

 

 

August 2018 World of Wolves – Cooling off in the summer heat

Herbsicle photo taken by Melissa Poinsett

Herbsicle photo taken by Melissa Poinsett

The wolves all have splash tubs to cool off in and they receive a fresh bucket of water daily. The enclosures have shady trees and shrubs plus a shelter for an optional “get-away”. But you might be surprised at some of the other creative ways that our animal care team find to give them a bit of respite from the heat.

Ways to beat the heat if you’re a wolf

Now that we are deep into “the dog days of summer”, I thought it would be nice to take a look at some of the ways that the wolves at Wolf Haven get a little relief from the high temps.  Our residents all have shelters where they can retreat, plus their enclosures have shady trees, shrubs or other vegetation in them. Of course they all get daily pails of fresh water to drink and big metal splash tubs in which to take a dip. Here is a family of Mexican gray wolves sharing a tub.

Our animal care team also provide weekly enrichment of various kinds to the wolves. Enrichment items may or may not be edible – their primary purpose is to introduce something unusual and novel for the wolves to investigate and explore with their intellect and senses. Even something as seemingly simple as a stick with essential oil on it can be used successfully as enrichment.

During the hot days that we are currently experiencing, it’s nice to combine the enrichment item with something that is cool and refreshing, as well as unique. Bloodsicles anyone?   Male gray wolf Lonnie with his bloodsicle treat.

Or how about a tasty chicken footsicle, which combines smooth, slippery ice with crunchy, well, feet.

So the next time you feel like complaining about the heat, take a tip from our creative animal care team and the wolves!

Kim Young, Director of Communications

 

April World of Wolves – Wolves & Their Easter Eggs

In the wild, wolves encounter enrichment items continually – new sights, new smells, new experiences. We do what we can to approximate the natural world for wolves in captivity by planting trees and shrubs in their enclosures, providing main meals 2-3 times per week (feast or famine), and giving them novel things to explore which stimulate their senses and keen intellect.

The Journey of the Chum Salmon: From wild fish to action double …to wolf treat

Pike Place Fish Company, Seattle, WA

Pike Place Fish Company, Seattle, WA

The kind of salmon that is donated to us from Pike Place Fish Market has quite an interesting history behind it. We would like to dedicate this space to explore what it takes for the salmon to end up as part of our resident wolves’ diet.

The first –and most awesome- fact is the species’ biology itself. “Chum” or “keta” salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) is a species of anadromous fish, which means they migrate hundreds of kilometers upriver from the sea into fresh water to spawn. The journey of keta salmon begins when an average of 4,000 eggs, which are layed in a gravel bed in the upper reaches of a stream, hatch. Young salmon spend the first years in the river where they were born until they reach the age of three and then undergo a series of physiological changes that will allow them to survive the big shift from fresh to saltwater: their body chemistry has to adjust in order to cope with the higher salt levels they will encounter in the Pacific Ocean. At the ocean, they spend between two and three years.

Bucket of salmon

Bucket of salmon.

The salmon that will eventually come to Wolf Haven face the end of their lives at this point: they get fished in the Pacific coasts anywhere from Alaska to California. But the ones that escape the fishermen have an amazing mission ahead. They will swim the ocean until they are sexually mature and then start traveling all the way back to spawn at the exact same place they were born. Scientific studies show it’s due to olfactory memory that they are able to find the precise location where they started their life (it’s like when a particular smell reminds us of the house we lived in when we were little …though a little more sophisticated). Once they find it, the female lays the eggs and the male sprays his sperm before she covers them with gravel. Mother and father protect the nest for some days, but soon their bodies start to deteriorate. Their metabolism –now adapted to saltwater- is not longer capable of thriving in the river’s environment, and they die.

Pam poses with salmon and Chris Bell, Pike Place Market fishmonger.

Pam poses with salmon and Chris Bell, Pike Place Market fishmonger.

Some of the ones that get caught in the ocean go to Pike Place Fish Co., the iconic seafood vendor at Pike Place Market, in Seattle, Washington. Pike Place Fish Co. started back in 1965, when John Yokoyama purchased the little fish stand he worked at. He transformed a small, unnoticeable and almost broke fish business into THE seafood dealer. To stop at Pike Place Fish is a most do for every visitor at the Market, mainly due to the famous “Flying fish presentations” A crew of fishmongers throw the fish that is being sold in the air, while yelling funny things and having a good time with the costumers.

“Flying fish” sounds like fun, but when it comes to expensive salmon, action scenes seem too risky… for the business.“Wild king salmon is worth so much money that we needed a cheaper and smaller salmon for stunt fish” shares Anders Miller, long time staff at Pike Place Fish Co. “People come here to buy good salmon and want to see the whole show, but we cannot risk damaging the nice stuff.” So this is where our friend, the chum salmon, re-enters the scene: it is big and good looking enough to be used as body-cover for the Wild King Salmon. (So if you thought stunt doubles were used only in movies and only for famous humans, you were wrong: fancy fish have doubles too!)

Between two to five chum salmons are used everyday. They get thrown in the air several times and get photographed by hundreds of people -pictures that will travel the world. As these fish cannot be sold they are donated to wildlife facilities, such as Wolf Haven International. “We feel very happy to know that all this fish is used for feeding rescued animals, instead of being tossed away,” states Anders.

Driver at Rainier Cold Storage carefully navigates a pallet full of frozen salmon over to the waiting Wolf Haven vehicle.

Driver at Rainier Cold Storage carefully navigates a pallet full of frozen salmon over to the waiting Wolf Haven vehicle.

When the chum salmon conclude their stunt “flying” run, they are shipped to Rainier Cold Storage Inc., a warehouse located in south Seattle, where they are deeply frozen for several days. The extreme low temperatures (-5 Fahrenheit) kill any microorganisms that could represent a risk for the wolves, like Neorickettsia helminthoeca, the bacteria responsible for producing the famous “salmon poisoning disease” (a fatal gastrointestinal infection).

Once a good amount of fish has accumulated, they contact us to have it picked

Kim filling the trunk of the Saturn with frozen salmon.

Kim filling the trunk of the Saturn with frozen salmon.

up. We drive up there with any vehicle we have available (we once squeezed 43 frozen whole salmon into our beloved Saturn’s trunk!) and bring them back to the wolves. You can imagine that the trip back to Wolf Haven is quite a stinky one, though totally worth it. The wolves seem to really enjoy the 7 pounds (avg.) of high quality protein, fat and minerals.

Spruce enjoys a fine salmon filet.

Spruce enjoys a fine salmon filet.

Whether they roll on it, pee on it, eat it, or all of the above, salmon is always a big success!

We sincerely thank our friends from Pike Place Fish Co. for their kind donation, and Rainier Cold Storage Inc. for making it safe for the wolves.

Pamela Maciel
Animal Care, Wolf Haven