The park is proud of its record of breeding wolf pups and the pack - an alpha male, an alpha female and subordinate animals - have produced and reared many litters of baby animals.
In an unusual bit of human intervention, staff at Longleat encouraged the wolves to bond by playing tapes of Canadian Timber Wolves howing in the wild. It was hoped that by bonding, a younger wolf would become the dominant female while allowing the original alpha to remain in a subordinate, helper role.
As she grew older, the dominant female of the Longleat pack became unable to give birth and had to be spayed. In the wild, once the alpha female's breeding years are over, she normally falls so low in the pack's hierarchy that she cannot compete for food and dies.
Longleat's head warden, Keith Harris, explained what happened next."Wolf packs have a very strict hierarchy. If this problem had occurred in the wild, the original alpha would most likely have died and the pack would have naturally elected a new alpha female. By encouraging the wolf pack to bond using this special ‘howling’ technique, we encouraged the pack to replace the old alpha female with a younger lower-ranking female, whilst still enabling the older wolf to remain in the pack but in a lower ranking position.”
At least 10 pups were born in the next two years, a sure sign of success.