Wolverine ascending

Thursday’s chilly rain seems long ago and far away, but the near-unprecedented zoo-day downpour, combined with the huge glut of year-end school groups confined indoors, made the day memorable. Instead of getting soaked on the way out to Grizzly Coast, I did two or three laps of the Minnesota Trail, where the crowds were manageable and had a roof overhead. The animals, on the other hand (and on the other side of the glass), braved the damp in their different ways. The coyotes trotted nervously around their exhibit, the river otters withdrew into their cave-like tunnels with only their tails protruding, and the wolverines climbed their trees and postured in a way I hadn’t seen before.

It wasn’t just one rogue climber, either; multiple wolverines in their side-by-side exhibits seemed to feel the need to go skyward, and to strike a series of attitudes once they reached the highest branch. They drew a crowd, and comments ranged from an adult’s “Yeah, they look kind of mean, don’t they?” to children’s exclamations: “He looks like a bear” and “He’s posing! … He’s posing again!” The “mean” comment sent me back to my zoo literature in search of supporting evidence. “Fearless” and “strongest mammal for their size” might have been euphemisms, but the real clue was that wolverines have vanished from most of their ranges in Europe, Canada and the U.S. (including the northern half of Minnesota), with seemingly minimal public outcry — partly trapped for their fur, partly eliminated by farmers and ranchers who believed these wily climbers were poaching their livestock. Zoo lit also describes these fierce and furry creatures as “mainly terrestrial” but able to scale trees with skill and speed. So we’ve noticed.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Joey
    May 20, 2010 @ 21:59:33

    ahhh, I’ve always wondered if there were wolverines any where! W


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