Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Nordic Ark, July 12th 2008. Part 24

The next thing we came to was maybe the best part of all. What's so great about this park - well, one of the things that's so great! - is that they have animals from our own part of the world. So you get to see animals that kind of - for lack of a better expression - 'belong' to us. The species in this post was quite possibly the one I got the most excited about (with the obvious exception of the turtles!! ;-) when I discovered how much there was to see.

Wolverine (Gulo gulo)! :-D I had actually seen a wolverine before, in the wild, but that was basically my dad saying Hey honey, do you see that black dot up in the hill across the valley there?! That's a wolverine! Well, this'd sure have been a good time to have had a pair of binoculars. So ... not as great as it could have been. ;-)

The Ark currently has four wolverines, a breeding pair and two of their offspring, a male kit, born 2005, and a female, born 2006. This was again an enclosure where we weren't expecting to see much of anything. Wolverines are notoriously shy and they also have thick dark coats which we thought might make them seek the shade in the heat we were having that day. Fortunately, we were only half right. :-)

We didn't see the adults, they must have been sleeping in some den or thicket somewhere. (Their enclosure was HUGE and quite thickly forested so there were plenty of hiding places.) But the kits were out in force!! :-o We spotted them immediately when we approached the enclosure. There were some visitors there already, about 20-25 people I'd say, but the animals were totally unfazed by all these people watching them. It literally did not bother them at all. It was pretty amazing to see, based on what I know about wolverines (admittedly not that much, but I know that they are very wary of humans). These two though weren't about to let anything as unimportant as a bunch of two-legs get in the way of their play time. :-)

Basically they were mock-fighting with each other almost constantly. It was SO much fun to see. At first we thought they were both equally into it, but after watching for a while it became clear that it was the sister (she is the lighter-colored one) who was mostly teasing her brother, and the male, who seemed to be ... let's say not averse to maybe lying down in the shade for a bit ... having no choice but to defend his honor against his younger and smaller sister. :-D She just wouldn't let up. :-D I wish I had been able to catch it on video. The photos we got really don't do it justice. It was an absolutely fantastic sight to see, and I'm sure none of us will ever forget it.

(Photo credit: 1, 4, 5: C.; 2, 3: me)

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