Zoo Animals

Gray Wolf, Wazi

Gray wolf

Canis lupus

At the Detroit Zoo
Male Kaskapahtew (“Kaska”) and female Waziyata (“Wazi”) are easy to tell apart; Kaska’s lush coat is jet black and Wazi’s is snowy white. Kaska – whose full name means “smoke” in Cree – was born in 2010. Wazi’s full name means “north” in Lakota; she was born in 2008. The pair of gray wolves can be seen in the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, located at the southwest corner of the Zoo. This 2-acre habitat features grassy hills and meadows, native Michigan trees, a flowing stream and pond, dens and elevated rock outcroppings from which the wolves can survey their surroundings. Zoo visitors are able to see the animals from many vantage points around the $1.4 million habitat – including from the historic Log Cabin, which features an observation area with expansive glass viewing windows that allow people to get nose to snout with the wolves.

The gray wolf resembles a large domestic dog, with longer legs, larger feet and a narrower chest. It can have a coat in a variety of colors, including brown, red, gray, black or white. The wolf has two layers of fur – a top coarse guard layer and a soft undercoat.

The Hidden Life of Wolves

A National Geographic photo exhibition called “The Hidden Life of Wolves” is on display in the historic Log Cabin adjacent to the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness. The traveling exhibition includes 21 images by award-winning filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who observed wolves for six years at the edge of Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness and documented their behaviors.  The collection of photographs is intended to dispel the myths about wolves and educate visitors about the importance of protecting them.

Log Cabin Location (Zoo Map)

Fun Facts

  • Wolves are the largest members of the dog family.

  • A single wolf can eat up to 20 pounds of food in one sitting.

  • While the alpha male and female are often the only members of a pack to reproduce, all adults in the pack care for young pups.

  • Wolves don’t actually howl at the moon. They communicate using howls, barks, whines and growls, and are most active at dawn and dusk.