Teton is a neutered male Arctic wolf. He was one of the few rescues born at Wild Spirit on May 8th, 2007. His pregnant mother, Sierra, and his father, Yukon, were given to us when a breeder retired.
Teton lived with his sister, Shasta until she joined the Big Pack in the Sky on July 20th, 2019. They previously lived with their mother, Sierra, father, Yukon, and sister, Trinity, before they passed away.
Teton is one of very few animals at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary that was raised by his own wolf parents, Sierra and Yukon, instead of by humans. As a result, he is an especially interesting rescue to care for because he was not socialized as a pup and fully retains his “wolfy” nature.
After we rescued the litter of Arctic pups from the breeder where they’d been born, we returned to bring the breeding pair, Sierra, and Yukon, and an older brother, Axel, to safety at Wild Spirit, too. We took all three to the vet to have them spayed and neutered, and when the vet looked at Sierra he discovered something very surprising – she was already pregnant! So only the boys were fixed and we returned home to wait for Sierra to give birth.
Before her life at Wild Spirit began, every litter of puppies Sierra had was removed from her within days of giving birth. If wolf puppies are to have any chance of being social with humans, they need to be pulled from their parents before their eyes are even open and cared for entirely by people. Even then, you can’t guarantee that they’ll be comfortable around people. This time, because Sierra was in our sanctuary and no longer part of a breeding organization, we let her raise her puppies herself. She had 5 puppies in the litter, including Teton, Shasta, Flurry, Frost, and Trinity.
After some time, Frost and Flurry began showing a marked interest in people and wandering away from their mother to investigate the humans that were around them, too. Due to their interest and aptitude, we began to train them to work as ambassadors, which meant spending a lot more time with people. The others, Teton included, showed no interest in spending more time with people, so they were never actively socialized with people.
After giving birth, Sierra began to dig a den in their habitat. While doing so, she uncovered a fungus called Cryptococcus. Typically, this fungus is not a huge threat for canines, but for a mother who recently gave birth and young pups, it can be very threatening. Unfortunately, Sierra and Trinity were so affected that they ended up passing away due to the infection. Teton experienced some nerve damage in his front leg but otherwise recovered fully. Fortunately, Shasta recovered without any issue.
Now, Teton and Shasta remain as a pair in the habitat in which they were born. Although they are extremely comfortable with life at the sanctuary, given that it’s all they’ve ever know, these two retain their wild spirit just like all our other animals. They are not very social with people, but they are not truly afraid of us, either. Although they are safe at WSWS and have lived here their whole lives, we know that like all wild animals, Teton and Shasta would prefer to be running free outside the confines of a fence.