Will the wolves be howling tonight?
If you look to the sky tonight, you will see the first full moon of 2020. The full moon in January is traditionally known as the “Full Wolf Moon.”
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the names for full moons come from a number of places, including Native American groups, colonial Americans or other traditional North American names passed down through generations.
The name of the January moon is derived from wolves, which tend to howl more often in the winter months. It was thought the wolves howled due to their hunger; however, there’s no evidence for this.
So why do wolves howl? To find their pack members and communicate with them in many different ways, bond them, and to defend their territory, says Haley Withers, lead carnivore keeper at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.
“As a child you hear tales that wolves howl at the moon,” says Withers. “Truth is, nobody knows if they are actually howling at the moon. But they are nocturnal creatures, meaning they’re active and awake at night, and they do raise their heads when they howl. It helps carry the sound further.”
Withers says the three gray wolves at Northwest Trek often howl, helping to bond the pack and sometimes just for play. As for whether they plan to howl tonight at the full moon, that’s anyone’s guess.
Visitors are welcome during open hours to come take a walk on the wild side and get up close and personal with Northwest Trek’s three gray wolves from inside the E.H. Baker Cabin. Smaller visitors can crawl into our viewing tunnel to come nose-to-nose with these magnificent white canines, who are always curious about visitors. You can also visit our sister zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, to see their eight red wolf pups, born in May, 2019
Side note: This full moon also coincides with a penumbral lunar eclipse, where the moon will appear just darker than usual. Unfortunately for us in Washington State, it won’t be visible. In North America, only those in Alaska, eastern Maine, Greenland and parts of northern and eastern Canada will be able to see it, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.