by volunteer Dee Hull
Not many wolves make it to their 17th birthday, and Kiri is the only wolf we have ever had to make it far enough into his seventeenth year that he is now just a few months shy of his 18th birthday! Any captive wolf that reaches the age of 12 is doing great, and Wolf Park’s wolves regularly make it to the age of 14. We treasure any time we get with them even more, as they reach 15, 16, and occasionally 17. Kiri is doing exceptionally well for a 17 year old wolf. At the wolf Christmas party, to everyone’s delight, Kiri very enthusiastically tore into his treat-filled gift box.
Another time, staff members Alastair and Dana were trying to clean Kiri’s automatic waterer when Kiri seemed to have decided they obviously needed his assistance. Kiri tried to get the water bowl out of Alastair and Dana’s way. When they tried to get it back from him he let them know he was in charge by growling as loudly as possible. Kiri’s growls are barely audible since Kiri’s aging vocal cords don’t work so well any more. Much to Kiri’s dismay, he had to be locked out of the way until they finished their work, as his assistance was much less appreciated than he might have hoped.
However, the fact that a 17 (almost 18) year old wolf had to be locked away so staff could finish the project without his intervention was as exciting to us as it was frustrating to him. He still has plenty of life left in him. Throughout the fall and winter on days when the Park was open to visitors, Kiri was often coming to the fence to show his jovial-looking face to Park guests on walking tours. Kiri continues to prove that age really is just a number and reminds us that every day with him for the last few years has been and continues to be a gift.