Wolf Parents bring “Toys” for Hungry Pups to Keep them Entertained in Absence of Food

Yellowstone National Park is always buzzing with activity. Sure, there are plenty of humans roaming around the park’s expansive grounds at any given time, but no one is more lively than the animals who inhabit it.

To see what the local wildlife does when no one’s looking, research biologists have placed cameras throughout the park that roll 24 hours a day.

The cameras help scientists monitor the local animal populations. Sometimes, the footage they capture offers new insight into their wild friends.

Videos show Yellowstone wolves bringing 'toys' to dens for their pups

Recently, when scientists were reviewing videos of Mollie’s wolf pack — one of eight packs at the park — they were pleasantly surprised by what they found.

In the middle of the night, cameras caught an adult wolf trotting back to her pack with something in her mouth. From a distance, it seemed as though she was carrying food for her pups.

Yellowstone Wolves Captured On Video Bringing "Toys" Back To Den For Pups -  The Rainforest Site News

But as she got closer to the camera, researchers realized that it wasn’t exactly a meal clenched in her jaw.

“This spring, Yellowstone biologists documented adult wolves from Mollie’s Pack traveling back to their den with some interesting items,” Yellowstone National Park wrote in an Instagram post. “Pups await food deliveries from successful hunts, but, in the absence of food, adults bring ‘toys.’”

Yellowstone National Park via Instagram

To the biologists’ surprise, the mother wolf was bringing back bones and small branches for her babies to play with. From the biologists’ standpoint, this activity is a combination of both nature and nurture.

“The instinct to bring items back to the den may be reinforced by evolution and probably helps keep adults from being mobbed by sharp puppy teeth,” Yellowstone National Park wrote.

As it turns out, wolf parents aren’t just good at keeping their pups alive — they’re experts in distracting them, too.

Yellowstone National Park via Instagram

With this system, the pups get to sink their teeth into hard, crunchy objects, while the adults get some much-needed relief. It’s a win-win for everyone.

There’ve been plenty more sightings of wolves from Mollie’s pack bringing toys to their babies since the first instance, and each one is just as adorable as the last.

Wildlife Camera Captures Heartwarming Yellowstone Wolf Behavior Towards Pups

The sweet occurrence will likely end soon when the pups grow in size, but the scientists expect to see the same activity again next year.

“Yellowstone wolf packs typically have one litter of 4 to 5 pups each year,” Yellowstone National Park wrote. “Pups that survive the winter have learned to help the pack … and will help raise the pack’s next litter of pups — delivering food, and sometimes toys.”

Soon, these babies will be adults caring for litters of pups.

Until then, the tiny wolves will keep satisfying their play drives and learning how to parent, one organic toy at a time.

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