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Wolves by Zachary and Gerit

We're Zachary and Gerit, and we're NOT afraid of the big, bad wolf! In fact, we love pack animals so much that we volunteer at our local wildlife science center. By helping out with chores and feeding, we've learned that wolves have strong family bonds. Although all pack members have special and important roles, each pack has an Alpha male who acts as the leader. As we spent more time with the science center's wolves, we started wondering: Which wolf is the pack's Alpha?

What did we do?
We got permission to throw chunks of meat into the wolf pen, and then observed how the wolves competed for the meat. The pen contained three females and three males, including a young female and a male. We threw out several pieces of meat, one at a time, and looked for behavior like fighting, growling, chasing, and tail position.

What did we find out?
After watching and recording the wolves' feeding behavior, we decided that the leader or "alpha" in this pack was the older female wolf. It's not always the largest or oldest wolf, or even always a male wolf, which is the top wolf.

What can you do?
  • Use an aquarium to study fish schooling behavior. Stock your aquarium (or visit one at a pet store) with several kinds of fish, such as neon tetras, angels, or guppies. Observe which kid of fish tend to stay in schools, and which swim alone. Also study which part of the tank the fish prefer; do they swim around the entire tank, or do they tend to hang out at the bottom? Come up with a possible explanation for the behavior you see.
  • Look for groups of animals at your zoo, and spend some time observing their behavior. Especially watch for social animals, like monkeys or other primates, large cats, or even birds. Does it appear that one animal in the group is "the boss?" What kinds of things do you see that make you think so? Look and listen for things like growls or snarls, or chasing.
  • Use this life science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
More on animal behavior.

Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
whiz quiz
What is the largest litter ever born to a dog?

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