Nathaniel Shuda, Oshkosh Northwestern
OSHKOSH – The oldest surviving gray wolf at the Menominee Park Zoo has died.
Thunder, a 17-year-old male, came to the Oshkosh zoo with three other gray wolves in 2014 from the Wildlife Science Center in Columbus, Minnesota, the city announced Friday. Zookeepers closely monitored his quality of life and decided in early spring to euthanize him. In the wild, wolves typically live six to eight years.
Thunder was the largest member of the pack, weighing in at 120 pounds and standing nearly 3 feet tall, and described as a “big, dopey dog,” zoo officials said at the time.
He and his siblings — Sienna, Rebel and Echo, named as part of a Facebook contest —were born in 2003 to a wolf that originally lived in Yellowstone National Park, where wolves are typically larger than those found in the Wisconsin wild.
Rebel, the dominant male, died in May 2015 after he “nipped” a child who entered a nonpublic area of the park and put fingers through a fence, officials said at the time. The child’s parents did not want to put their child through rabies shots, and because the incubation period for rabies in wild animals is unknown, the state Division of Public Health mandated authorities kill the animal. A brain sample then was sent to Madison for a rabies test, which came back negative.
Sisters Echo and Sienna were euthanized in April 2018 and May 2019, respectively, both due to kidney failure, according to the Oshkosh Zoological Society.0:001:01AD
Saleen, the last surviving member of the original three-wolf pack at the Menominee Park Zoo, died June 13. The zoo is now looking for new wolves for the exhibit. Jennifer K. Woldt (July 7, 2014)
The zoo’s wolf exhibit opened in 2002, with a pack of three wolves — Saleen, Rutger and Caleb — as the zoo’s first permanent, year-round exhibit. Rutger died about a decade later at the age of 14 of complications from an infection; both Caleb, 15, and Saleen, 16, were put down in 2014 due to health issues.
A new pack comprising two females and one male will arrive soon from a zoo in Michigan, according to the city.