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Winter wolverines

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Winter wolverines
December 3, 2019

Running over snow. Digging through frost. While other animals (like us!) might prefer to sleep inside during winter, wolverines are made for the cold – and our wolverines Rainier and Ahma are no exception.

Ahma the wolverine and ice block
Ahma the wolverine inspects an ice block enrichment.

“Wolverines are made for winter conditions,” says keeper Miranda Mauck. “They have fur that sheds frost and massive paws for walking on snow. I can’t wait to see our two when it snows!”

Wolverines naturally live in mountainous areas, like the North Cascades. With a scientific name of “gulo gulo” (“gluttonous glutton,”) they’ll eat anything and fight anything – especially in winter. Their powerful jaws and teeth can shear off chunks of frozen flesh and bone, while their big paws let them walk easily over snow and tunnel through it to find prey. Their thick black and gold fur protects them from low temperatures, and they build snow dens to raise young.

Rainier the wolverine

So winter is the perfect time to visit Rainier and Ahma. Born here at Northwest Trek, the brother-sister pair arrived earlier this year after living in other zoos.

Rainier is bigger and a little more “goofy,” says Mauck, while Ahma is the dominant one, though careful. Both love to run, climb and explore the logs, boulders and trees in their enormous, renovated habitat.

Best of all, the lush vegetation will die back over winter, giving you clear views of these two wintertime superheroes.

Come meet them!