May 2005 press release from IWC on Nyssa's death

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May 2005 press release from IWC on Nyssa's death

Post by Koa » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:59 pm

I've been enthralled with IWC's wolf logs lately. I knew Nyssa, a yearling in the Exhibit Pack long ago and sister to Maya (former "alpha" who was euthanized in 2011), had died tragically, but did not know why. The wolf logs clued me in and I found the statement that IWC posted on their homepage. It provides great insight into wolf pack dynamics (especially those assembled in an artificial, captive pack). I recommend reading her logs as well for context-- a simple search for Nyssa on will do.

An Unexpected Loss

Nyssa, a year-old female wolf at the International Wolf Center, was euthanized Wednesday, May 11, 2005, after other members of the pack mortally injured her. This is a sad time for everyone who knew her . She served an important role as an ambassador for wolves in the wild.

We don't know how the wolves will react over time to Nyssa's absence. We do know her human friends will miss her. Her intensity around food kept the other wolves alert and riveted us to the drama of feeding. We loved watching her play with her pack mates.

For those of us who would like to honor our friend, Nyssa, a memorial fund has been established in her name. All donations will go toward the continued care of her current and future pack mates. Donate online or send a check to the Nyssa Memorial Fund, International Wolf Center, 1396 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731. For larger donations, please contact Development Director Laura Jaeger at or 763-560-7374 Ext. 230.

Every dollar you give will go toward the continued care of her pack mates.

Nyssa and her sister, Maya, were spayed on May 6 while the Center's Exhibit Pack members underwent complete medical exams supervised by Ely veterinarians. She weighed in at 95 pounds and Maya at 80 pounds. The surgeries were routine, and the post-operative recovery period went well, according to Chip Hanson, DVM, the Center's official veterinarian.

Nyssa and Maya were kept separate from the pack at first, and were watched by the wolf curator and a team of observers for 56 hours following the surgery. Maya is recovering normally and will get her stitches out on Friday, May 13.

She was last observed, healthy and active several times on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, five days after the surgery, Nyssa was found by wolf care staff with severe injuries. She was taken to the Ely Veterinary Clinic where it was determined that she would not recover.

Nyssa, Maya and Grizzer were the three pups introduced to the Center's Exhibit Pack of two adult arctic wolves in 2004. Nyssa was the youngest and smallest of the pups, distinctive because of her black coat and feisty personality.

"Her death is a great loss to us at the Center, to all of our visitors in Ely and to the Web who got to know Nyssa as an ambassador for wolves in the wild," said Executive Director Walter Medwid.

"We will miss Nyssa terribly," said Wolf Curator Lori Schmidt. "Our resident pack illustrates the intricate social dynamics of wolves and we have just seen the end result of inherent competitiveness in a pack struggle. The Center will conduct a thorough review of the incident to see if we can learn from Nyssa's circumstances."

The killing of a pack member by others is not uncommon. Wolf on wolf aggression is one of the top two causes of natural mortality to wolves in the wild. Wolves compete aggressively for dominance, territory, access to food, and opportunities to breed. Most of the time, but not always, the aggression is controlled and ritualized to avoid serious injury. It is most common for wolves to kill wolves from outside the pack, often in association with competition for territory. However, wolves in the wild are also known to kill pack mates. The Yellowstone film, "Yellowstone Wolf Pack," details a case of a female wolf who kills her sister.

At the Center we share your concern for wolves in the wild, your interest in this pack of five familiar faces and your particular affection for Nyssa. The Board of Directors, the Wolf Center staff, volunteers and the curators who watch over the pack every day send you our thanks for caring about Nyssa. We'll report on this Web site and in the next International Wolf magazine anything more that we learn about her death and we'll tell you how the pack is faring. All we know for sure is that, without Nyssa, things are sure to change. ... alfund.asp

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