By Hassan Travis-Frank
We all know Tripp the Thunderwolf around in campus. He is the mascot of Niagara County Community College. He is energetic, fun-loving, friendly, and always shows up into events that are setup on campus. He may not be a real wolf, but he can be fun to watch. We would like to share you some questions and answers about NCCC’s famous animal mascot. These questions were answered by the Director of the Athletics team, Amanda Haseley.
Q: How does it feel to be the alpha wolf on campus?
A: I am a proud member of the Thunderwolves family! I enjoy meeting new family member each year.
Q: Do you have a beloved mate?
A: My loyalty is to the Thunderwolves.
Q: Have you ever thought of raising pups of your own?
A: Each new recruiting class brings a whole new pack of pups.
Q: Do you have responsibility in the pack?
A: Yes, to create much energy as possible.
Q: How loyal are you to your pack?
A: I bleed Royal and Gold!
Q: How do you feel someone disliking wolves
A: We have yet to meet a competitor who could take on wolves!
Q: What do you do when you see a human? Do you run away from them or do you greet them by shaking your paw?
A: We face our competition head on, we do not run away from anyone.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: NCCC Dining Commons Special.
Q: Do you hunt with your pack members?
A: I leave the recruiting to the coaches; I know they will always make the family proud.
The wolves in real life do not have the same behaviors as Tripp does, but they are his cousins after all. Wolves are the world’s largest canid in the world! They are known to be ancient ancestors of the domestic dog, and there are many different subspecies of wolves around the globe.
Wolves live in family groups called a pack. The leader of the pack is known as the alpha pair or the breeding pair. As leaders of the pack, there is a strict dominant hierarchy within the pack. Wolves communicate in many ways: howling is for establishing territories, strengthening the relationship within the pack, and assembling the pack.
As social animals, wolves hunt in packs. Wolves are known to be organized while hunting, and they will have to cooperate to pursue their prey. Wolves are carnivores and they will dine on ungulates like deer, elk, moose, caribou, and bison. They will also eat small mammals like rabbits, mice, and raccoons. However, research shows that wolves will eat blueberries or other berry material, which is another part of their diet. On the contrary, different subspecies of wolves eat different things. Coastal wolves eat salmon, Arctic wolves eat Arctic hare and musk oxen, and the endangered Mexican gray wolf eats ungulates (hoofed animals) and small mammals.
Wolves mate for life, and they will live in monogamous pairs. Monogamous defines as an animal mating only one mate. Both parents will take care of their pups when they are ready to go hunting with the pack. Usually, the pups will leave their pack to form a group of their own or some will stay to support the mother to take care a new litter of pups.
The mother wolf will nurse her pups with milk. The pups are born blind, and they will keep drinking their mother’s milk until they are able to eat solid food. Members of the pack will regurgitate food to feed the pups, because the pups are not old enough to eat solid food yet. Once the pups are big enough, they will be able to eat solid food. For the most part, members of the pack help the parents take care of the pups and protect them at all cause. Much like our loyal domesticated companions, wolves are one of the most loyal animals in the animal kingdom. They support the parents by taking care of the pups, and are loyal to them.
Wolves can be the most misunderstood animals in history. We were taught to be afraid of wolves due to reading storybooks like Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. For years, wolves have been disliked and killed by ranchers, because wolves were killing their livestock (sheep). Not only wolves are killed by ranchers, but they are also killed by hunters. If we understand the true nature of Tripp’s real wild counterparts, we will see that wolves are the most loyalist creatures in the animal kingdom.
It is rare for a wolf to attack a human, and there are many cases that captive wolves attack humans. No need to worry, wolves never attack a human in their natural environment. If a wolf sees a human, it will typically run away from that person. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) intern on YouTube, “as the wolf move in my direction, it was clear that it did not know that I was there. As I got closer, I said something quietly to alert the wolf. As soon as I did the wolf stopped in its tracks trying to figure out what made the noise. It turned and ran as soon as it realized I was there. Running away is a wolf’s typical reaction to encountering a human.” The wolves in Yellowstone National Park will run away from humans as well. If a person gets too close to a wolf, especially their pups, it will probably growl if they see a person as a threat.
Wolves also play an important role in the environment, as they keep population of hoofed animals in check. Without wolves, the whole ecosystem will turn into a logistic growth, as hoofed animals will continue to grow into the population.
Tripp is a one-of-a-kind wolf, and he will always participate in certain events around campus. As long as he’s around, we can always learn how to have fun with him. Most importantly, we may learn something new about his real wild counterparts!