Did you know that we have three separate wolf packs at Busch Gardens? If you're wondering why, it's because wolves are so territorial. Even if they have lived next to each other for years, they still view each other as outsiders.
Out in the wild, it is critical for wolves to defend their territories becuase there is not enough food nor space to be sharing with other packs. Therefore, they will defend that territory to the death, if necessary. In human care, it is no different. Even though they see each other everyday they still exhibit that territorial nature.
So how did these packs come to be? Well, wolves typically bond with whomever they grow up with. The packmates do not have to be relatives, although in the wild, they usually are. It all has to do with who is exposed to whom during puppy-hood.
One of our packs, Lakota and Kashmir, are brother and sister. They were born together and grew up together. Another one of our wolves, Durango, is also their brother, but he didn't grow up with them. He grew up with Tala to provide her with a packmate. Do you think Lakota and Kashmir are buddies with Durango? Absolutely not. They grew up separate from him so they view him as a non-packmate, and they routinely jaw snap and growl at each other through the fences, regardless of their relation.
Durango and Tala are in a pack with Kitchi and Maska. Kitchi and Maska are unrelated. No one in the four-pack is related. But Kitchi and Maska grew up together, and were introduced to Durango and Tala as puppies, so Durango and Tala accepted them.
The last pack are the Arctic Wolves, Sikko and Odin. Sikko and Odin are brothers, but did not grow up with any of the other wolves, so they are their own pack.
Next time you visit our park, head over to Wolf Valley and see if you can point out which pack is which.
Wolf Trainer at Busch Gardens