Axel and Grayson

The eight week old brothers wrestle and play Tuesday afternoon in Ely. The playing leads to dominance and hierarchy in the pack.

ELY — The International Wolf Center’s wolf pups now have their official names — Axel and Grayson.

The center received thousands of entries during a recent online naming contest, and the public voted from three finalist names for each pup.

After arriving at the IWC May 25 from Canada, the rare arctic wolf pups were dubbed Axel and Grayson, the latter earning his nickname because of darker coloration on his back. As the pups mature and their guard hairs emerge, they are expected to turn a snowy white.

It appears, according to the center, that the public liked the names already given to the brothers, who were born May 2. Axel will remain as Axel and Grayback gets a slight change to his name with Grayson.

Ray Leonard, of Custer, Wis.. submitted the first entry for the name Axel, and is the contest winner for “Wolf Pup 1.”

The name Axel is in reference to Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian arctic, lying immediately west of the more famous Ellesmere Island, known for its unique wildlife including arctic wolves.

Martha Cole, of Duluth, submitted the first entry for the name Grayson, and is the contest winner for “Wolf Pup 2.”

The name Grayson means “son of a steward,” or a caregiver, and Pup 2 has a calmer nature, spending more quiet time with wolf care staff.

Leonard and Cole will each receive a prize package worth more than $300.


The public can also now “adopt” Axel and Grayson through a new Wolf Pup Adoption Kit program, available at the IWC’s Wolf Den Store.

The kit includes a logo string tote bag, a pup key chain, pup Post-it pad, a behavior guide, a 5-by-7-inch glossy photo, along with an adoption certificate and a short DVD highlighting the personality and behavior of the pup.

Participants in the initiative, part of the wolf care program, will also receive quarterly updates on the pup and high-resolution photos throughout the adoption year.


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