- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A group of 5-week-old wolves are the latest addition to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center in Savannah.

The wolves - three brothers and one sister - were an unexpected birth at a wolf rescue center in Indiana, The Savannah Morning News reported (bit.ly/1XPbR25).

The Wolf Creek Habitat in Brookville, Indiana, also welcomed two large planned litters of nine and 11 pups this spring, creating a wolf surplus there.

When Wolf Creek offered the gray wolf puppies for free, Oatland director Heather Merbs drove to Indiana to pick them up.

As they returned to Georgia with the then 2-week-old fur balls, Merbs and her husband had to stop frequently to feed them, warming up the wolf formula in convenience store microwaves along the route.

They had to sneak the pups into their hotel room one night, the Savannah newspaper reported. No tell-tale howls gave her away, she said.

In Savannah, three of the pups now spend their days at Oatland, playing rough and tumble with one another during playdates until one gives the “Uncle!” yelp. They sleep and eat but aren’t yet on public display. Each goes home with a staffer at night. The fourth stays full time at the home of staffer Carol Suttle, whose husband, Ron, keeps him entertained while she works.

At first, the pups needed a person around for frequent bottle feedings, but even now that they’re eating raw meat - a zoo blend called Nebraska canine - they still benefit from the one-on-one human attention, Oatland veterinarian Lesley Mailler said.

“We pull them from the mom at 10 days and hand-raise them so they get habituated to us,” Mailler said, pausing as one pup chewed her shoe.

In about a month, the pups will be back together full time, having gotten sufficient human imprint. The three black pups will turn silver as they mature. The brown one will likely turn an even lighter shade than his siblings, Mailler said.

In about six months they’ll join Oatland’s three adult wolves at the Wolf Wilderness exhibit.

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Information from: Savannah Morning News, https://www.savannahnow.com


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