Wolf Brothers Sniff a Surprise

Posted at 12:12 pm November 7, 2005 by Maureen O. Duryee

 Arctic wolves Keeli the arctic wolf lives at Wegeforth Bowl at the San Diego Zoo; his brother Kenai lives with us at the Zoo’s Hunte Amphitheater. When the brothers first arrived at the Zoo two years ago they both lived together at Wegeforth Bowl, as we thought their adjustment to new living conditions would be smoother if they went through it together. One month later Kenai moved to Hunte.

On Mondays we take walks with the two brother wolves and visit different locations throughout the Zoo. This Monday we decided to walk up to Polar Bear Plunge. There is a road adjacent to the main exhibit that is set aside for Horticulture to house large plants. The wolves love to smell, rub, and play with each other there.

On this particular day, we were climbing the hill next to the bird of prey aviaries, and Keeli was spending some time nosing around in the bushes, a very normal behavior. However, this time he was a little too interested. The trainer leaned over the wolf, bent over for an even closer look to see what he was sniffing, and then screamed, “It’s a snake!” Quickly, she pulled the wolf to safety and other trainers rushed in to identify the fear. Yes, it was a snake, opened mouthed and owning a rattle. The reptile unit was called on the radio to help catch this dangerous animal. It was a very cold Monday morning, so we were all thankful that the snake didn’t have enough energy to strike neither trainer nor wolf.

The species of snake was soon identified: a rubber snake made in China. Yes folks, we were all fooled by a toy! The joke was on us, but our cat-like reflexes never cease to be in place, safety first.

Maureen O. Duryee is an animal trainer at the San Diego Zoo’s Hunte Amphitheater.

Here’s information about the Zoo’s animal behavior shows.

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6 Responses to “Wolf Brothers Sniff a Surprise”

  1. debra says:

    Ha! What a hoot! And everyone so brave, too!

  2. Judy J says:

    Thank you, Maureen, for brightening my morning! It’s good to laugh out loud when you start your day. Thank goodness no one was injured and isn’t it amazing how quick you can move when you perceive danger? I am curious as to Keeli’s reaction to the trainer’s action–do you think that if it really was a rattler that Keeli would have behaved instinctually and not gotten in so close? Thanks again for your info and stories about the adventures at the Zoo! Luv to all, Judy J

  3. Carolyn Anderson says:

    Boy, you really sucked me in! Very funny story! Thanks for taking the time to let us know some of the inside stories.

  4. Roberta Smith says:

    The wolves are BEAUTIFUL….that’s a funny story about the snake. Keep up the good work!

  5. PattiS says:

    I was at the Zoo yesterday. When One of the brothers was howling. I was down in cat canyon when I first heard the howling and followed. He was howling for at least half an hour, it was truly an amazing sight and sound at the zoo. I got a picture and sent it to all my friends who wished they were at the zoo. He looked at me and his eyes are yellow I sure wouldn’t want to run into him in the night in the artic! Thanks for your blog about this amazing animal.

  6. Dallas T says:

    Cute story, and I wish I could get a glimpse of the wolves.