Entire wolf pack euthanized in ‘last resort’ move at UK wildlife center, officials say

·2 min read

Following the death of their alpha, an entire wolf pack has been euthanized at a wildlife center in the United Kingdom.

Staff at the Camperdown Wildlife Centre, based in Scotland, are “absolutely heartbroken,” the center said in a March 27 social media post, adding that the move was a “last resort.”

On March 21, the center announced that the pack’s alpha male, Loki, needed emergency surgery, though it didn’t say why.

The operation was successful, but the center remained closed to the public while the wolf recovered.

However, Loki suffered “subsequent complications” following the surgery “and the difficult decision was reached to save the animal from further pain,” the center said.

Loki was put down, and his absence had a profound effect on the rest of the pack.

The “alpha male” of the pack, named Loki, underwent surgery and developed complications that led to him being euthanized, the wildlife center said.
The “alpha male” of the pack, named Loki, underwent surgery and developed complications that led to him being euthanized, the wildlife center said.

“The other four wolves in the pack have been exhibiting unusually anxious and abnormal behaviour since the operation,” the center said. “It is with great sadness that these wolves have also been euthanised as a result.”

The center did not say what the unusual behaviors were, and McClatchy News has reached out to the center for more information.

While many expressed sympathy for the center and its employees, others were outraged and confused.

“Very disappointed you euthanized all 5,” a comment said. “It seems like the animals weren’t even given time to grieve or acclimatise to the death of their family member. What a tragic loss of life.”

“That seems a bit extreme,” said another. “Can you please explain just anxiety and abnormal behavior in a more direct way. Because of course they would be upset given the Alpha male was gone. To put the whole pack to sleep tho??!! Seriously??”

In response, the center emphasized that the choice to euthanize was not made lightly, or settled upon quickly.

“We can assure everyone that this difficult decision was taken following expert advice and consultation with the relevant professional bodies,” the center commented.

The way wolves behave in captivity is very different from what researchers see in the wild, according to the Scientific American.

The “alpha wolf” concept is at best misunderstood by the public and is a phenomenon far more common among captive packs than those roaming free, wolf expert L. David Mech told the publication.

Captive wolf populations often have a clear hierarchy established. In the wild, wolves function more like a family unit, and though members will defer to a breeding male and female, battles for supremacy within the pack are rare, according to Mech.

“What would be the value of calling a human father the alpha male?” Mech said. “He’s just the father of the family. And that’s exactly the way it is with wolves.”

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