Finally on April 5, Nordens Ark in Sweden could show a glimpse of their three wolverine pups that were born on February 21. After six weeks in the den with their mother they emerged and are now allowed to start exploring the world.
Wolverines (Gulo gulo) are difficult to breed in captivity, which is associated with high infant mortality. But at Nordens Ark, we have nice large natural enclosures and we are trying to disrupt the life of a wolverine as little as possible, says Elin Eriksson-Byröd, veterinary assistant at Nordens Ark.
Wolverine Honan choose where in the enclosure she wanted to have her puppies, and was allowed to move them between dens, just as in the wild. The first month of their life wolverine pups are completely dependent on their mother. They are expected to become more independent and explore the outdoor enclosure on their own in early summer. But with a little luck you can see the female wolverine move the pups between dens when you visit the zoo this period.
It is the female’s second litter and she proved to be an excellent mother. For the male wolverine, coming from Boras zoo, however, it’s the first time. A year ago, Nordens Ark and Boras Zoo exchanged their male wolverines, which turned out very successfully as both males became father of three this year.
Usually born in February or March and weaned around mid-May wolverine pups will stay with their mother for about 4 – 5 months. At first, they are all white and blind. The eyes are, as in other mammals, light blue and turn light brown when they grow up. The coat colour will also change and gets the characteristic dark brown color with lots of light brown markings during adulthood.
This year’s pups are part of the European Endangered species Programme (EEP) and will move to other zoos when they get older. To which zoo will be determined by the Nordens Ark zoologist who is coordinator of the wolverine EEP. The coordinator’s role is to pair breeding specimens with suitable genetic background.
The wolverine is considered as Least Concerned according IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ due to its wide distribution and remaining large populations in North Asia and North America. Nevertheless, the European Wolverine is currently listed as Vulnerable.
The wolverine is the largest of the mustelid species. It is heavily built with short legs and big paws. Eyes and ears are small. The tail is short and bushy.
The wolverine is like the wolf subject of countless myths and legends. They are ferocious predators that are known to take down prey several times their own size. Besides carrion left by wolves they prey upon a wide variety of animals. Large animals like reindeer are wolverine’s important winter food. After the kill the carcass is cut up and pieces are stored away for the winter, a strategy for survival.
The species is protected in Sweden since 1969, but illegal hunting still occurs.