By Charley Sutton @CharlSutton
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Videographer / director: ZooBorns
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Nick Johnson
Editor: Marcus Cooper
The curators at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire recently welcomed the surprise arrival of five mischievous cubs.
First-time parents Ash and Ember are recent arrivals at Cotswold Wildlife Park. Both were born in Sweden and arrived from different collections in October 2016 as part of a breeding programme.
The park’s mammal keepers weren’t expecting a breeding success quite so soon as wolves can take a long time to bond and females only come into season once a year. The births were an unexpected but welcome addition to the collection.
For the first ten days, the cubs - who are yet to be named - were hidden from sight inside one of the underground dens the parents had excavated.
One night, after a heavy downpour of rain, Ember had taken her cubs out of the birthing den and placed them above ground for safe keeping. This was the first time anyone had seen the cubs.
Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, said: “Our wolves are a new pairing and we did not really expect a successful breeding so soon. They have settled well and at present, everything with the adults and cubs is going to plan – we are keeping our fingers crossed that it continues but we have more confidence with every day that passes.
The cubs will form an important nucleus to the “pack” for the coming years.”
Wolves generally pair for life. After a gestation period of approximately sixty-two days, the alpha female gives birth to a litter (usually between four and six cubs).
At birth, the cubs are born blind and deaf and are reliant on their parents for survival. After eleven to fifteen days, their eyes open. Cubs develop rapidly under the watchful eye of their mother. At five weeks, the cubs are beginning to wean off their mother’s milk but cannot immediately fend for themselves and require considerable parental care and nourishment.