Wild Times Archive
Creature Feature: Arctic Wolf

Arctic Wolf

Shilah And Tundra Playing
Arctic Wolves Edmonton Valley Zoo

Arctic wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf, are slightly smaller than other subspecies and are distinguishable by their year-round white coats, shorter ears, and shorter muzzles. Those beautiful white coats allow them to camouflage in snowy surroundings, but the double layer of thick white fur makes survival in bitterly cold temperatures possible. The first layer acts as a waterproof barrier to the skin while the outer layer insulates and gets thicker as winter approaches. 

These wolves live primarily in the Arctic, along the northern edge of North America and the eastern and northern shores of Greenland. Their territory can span nearly 2,600 square kilometers (1,000 square miles) or more as prey is scarce at high altitudes.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is home to two Arctic Wolves – Shilah, who was born in 2007, and Tundra, who was born in 2012.


Arctic wolves are a smaller species of wolf. Males generally weigh 34-46 kg (75-101 lbs) and females are 36-38 kg (79-83 lbs.)

Live in the cold and snowy Arctic. Wolves roam over large areas, hunting for food. They are very fast and can run up to 64.4 km/h (40 mph) over short distances.

Arctic wolves are opportunistic predators and hunt in packs. They feed on musk oxen, caribou, Arctic hare, Arctic foxes, lemmings, seals, ptarmigans, and other nesting birds.

They live in packs of seven to 10 individuals in a complex social order. They communicate through body language, vocalization (howls, growls, snarls, whines, yips, and barks), and scent marking.

Alpha females have a gestation period of 53-61 days and give birth to two or three pups in late May or early June.

Approximately 7-10 years in the wild; up to 20 years in captivity.

Arctic wolves are sometimes preyed upon by polar bears. More immediate threats include climate change and the exploration of natural resources in the northern regions.

Wild Times: Arctic Wolf
Arctic Wolf at the Edmonton Valley Zoo
Arctic Wolf Face