canis lupus

Wolf Ethology Weeks. Week 1: Play Behavior

Concerning “Play”

Play behaviors are usually the most controversial and most difficult behaviors to categorise. At Wolf Park, we define play as having the following characteristics:

- Behaviors may be performed out of sequence and/or at different intensities than when the behavior is performed with serious intent eg. in a mock hunt the “prey” may be mock killed first and then chased.

- “Play” partners may switch roles with a dominant animal acting as a subordinate and visa versa.

- “Play” may incorporate certain exaggerated motions and expressions eg. the characteristic “play face” (lips horizontally retracted, jaws slightly open, ears pulled straight up and back or folded flat)

Wotan (left) displaying a “play face”

There are 3 defined categories of play behavior: Agonistic, Social and Solitary.

I’ve got one of the authors of the ethogram looking over my entries and hopefully will have the first one up tomorrow!

Picture by Yellowstone Wolf Project

495M of the Mollie’s pack stands over his bison prey. When he ws collared he weighed 143 pounds, making him one of the largest wolves to be radio collared in YNP. 

Here is a picture of 495M and volunteer Erin Albers to show just how big he was!