Written by our Director, Tsa Palmer, and senior handler, Sarah Whaley.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Massak at 12 and a half years of age. Due to his size he had suffered with arthritis on his back legs during the last few months. Under the vet's guidance and support he was given Previcox to relieve any pain as well as YuMOVE, a joint supplement. Sadly he became increasingly uncomfortable so the decision was made on August 22nd to put him to sleep in the enclosure alongside his pack mates Pukak and Sikko.
Massak, meaning “soft snow” in the Labradoran Inuit language, was born on 8th March 2011 at Parc Safari, Canada, in the middle of the worst snowstorm of the winter. He and his siblings Pukak and Sikko were found to be suffering from hypothermia so were hand-raised by park staff. These three cubs were donated to the Trust to enhance the education programme and were the first ever Arctic wolves in the UK.
Massak had a calm majestic all commanding presence, both in his size and air of superiority. This made him a natural dominant male where a stare or resting his head on his brother and sister's back was enough to maintain the pack's pecking order. He was also the handlers' early warning system: if Pukak was plotting to misbehave when out on a walk, a sharp growl and posturing brought Pukak back in line immediately.
On public walks, being a more cautious wolf with strangers, Massak would always be at the back ensuring he knew who was where at all times - both humans and wolves. Once The Trust closed to the public, Massak's behaviour adapted when out on a walk, striding out at the front - though of course never too fast as the this pack have always only ever "ambled".
He also had a cheeky playful side to him, particularly in the later years, play bowing to Sikko and Pukak wanting them to chase him, often at inconvenient times when the handlers were trying to get all 3 of them to come out for a walk and sometimes trying to stop them going onto the hard standing altogether by dragging the other 2 away by the tails.
When the Arctics lived next to Mai and Motomo, fence running was a daily activity with Massak being the main instigator of this madness.
He will be missed by all of us at the Trust.