By Mary Landers
Public can view animals each day at Oatland Island Wildlife Center
Meet brothers Ogeechee, Oconee, and Suwanee. Together with their sister, Satilla, these gangly and goofy 3-and-a-half month old wolf pups are settling into their role as local celebrities at Oatland Island Wildlife Center.
The four siblings, each about 35 pounds, have graduated from the bottle feeding that sustained them when they arrived in May. Instead of hanging out with human caregivers, they now romp and play under the watchful eye of 3-year-old Luna, the only surviving grey wolf from Oatland’s previous pack. Lanky and tawny white, she’s something of a surrogate mother to the pups.
“Instead of growling or snapping at them she just takes her foot and just puts it on their back and just stands there and makes them sit down and stay,” said Lesley Mailler, Oatland’s veterinarian. “Just like a parent would. It’s cute to watch her.”
They’re on display at the Wolf Wilderness exhibit at Oatland daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can watch them gnaw on frozen treats ranging from blueberries to quail, see them cool off in their pond and crack up at their puppy antics like getting a furry head stuck momentarily in the tangled branches of an old Christmas tree.
“When they first come out (of their overnight pen) it’s all about greeting Luna again and just kind of getting their heebie jeebies out,” said keeper Susan Inman. “They run around and play with each other, wrestle, and check out the the things they left out at night.”
The three black pups are similar enough that even their keepers get them mixed up. Suwanee, with his brown fur, is the only one that’s easy to distinguish. Staff chose the Georgia river names for the siblings then let each choose which river it would be by hiding a treat in boxes labeled with the names. The first pup to investigate each box got that name.
The pups’ introduction marked a bittersweet time at Oatland as it coincided with the tough decision to euthanize the two elderly male wolves, Odin and Tundra. The pups were born at The Wolf Creek Habitat near Cinicinnati. Oatland agreed to take them after Luna failed to get pregnant and it was clear that the old pack needed new blood.
The pups are still working out a hierarchy among themselves. To demonstrate on Thursday, Oconee guarded a disk of frozen applesauce beteween his paws and stared down Ogeechee, who still managed to get in a few licks of the wolf-style popsicle.
Wolves eventually reach about 120-140 pounds. They take two years to mature fully.
“They’re still babies,” Mailler said.
Want to help?
Wolf pups are messy! Oatland, which is at 711 Sandtown Road in Savannah, is accepting donations of laundry detergent to help keep up with the mess four wolf pups make. Contact the center at 912-395-1212. Or go to oatlandisland.org.