Niila the wolverine

The wolverine is a pretty rare phenomenon in the zoo world.  In Europe today there are 46 males and 43 females, distributed among 35 different zoos, and Niila, a young male shown in these pictures is one of them. In North American zoos, there are even fewer wolverines than in Europe.

I have seen wild wolverine (Gulo gulo) once in the high mountains were these animals live, but only through binoculars. It is said to be the least known of the large carnivore of the northern hemisphere, so it was kind of great to meet this individual a couple of weeks ago. Niila the wolverine is born in Helsinki Zoo in Finland, but since last summer he has been in a wilderness park in Namsskogan in Norway, were his environment is not bad for a captive animal, that is 8400 m2 of natural grounds.  There are more information about these animals at The Wolverine Foundation, there is a little about the wolverines ecology on this swedish page, and there is a lot of more pictures of wolverine in my web gallery.

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76 thoughts on “Niila the wolverine

  1. Thank you for this post! I have always like wolverines and would love to see one in the wild someday. We do have some here in Montana, so maybe I will be lucky and see one sometime! Love your close up photos of this elusive guy!

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  2. Hi,
    They look larger than what I thought they were, a lovely looking animal, and I love the “necklace” of white around the neck, beautiful fur. Lovely photos. 🙂

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    1. Hi Mags, actually the wolverines are not big, not at all, so maybe it is me bending down who gives that feeling. But the “biggest” with a wolverine is maybe the teeths, which they really needs since in the wild reindeers are their main source of food (at least in Scandinavia). Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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  3. They are beautiful animals so adapted to their environment. I seen them twice in the wild and it is just incredible how they can mange to move even in deep snow. Too bad they are still trapped for their fur even if their numbers have dwindled to almost critical in many areas.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Francis. In Norway (and Sweden) they were more or less extinct in the 1960s, but now they are too many according to the planned population, so the government are removing (killing) some, because they are too difficult to hunt. Trapping is not allowed here.

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  4. Glad to hear trapping in illegal in that area. I really enjoyed seeing your photos of these rare animals. I hope that zoos and protected forests will allow them to breed and avoid the threat of extinction.

    I have seen them on DVD Nature documentaries, so have a better sense of how small these animals really are.

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  5. I have never seen, even a photo of a wolverine before. Sadly my only connotation was from the movie. Nila is beautiful. He has “old soul” eyes. Thank you so much.

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  6. Love the images….not an animal (for obvious reasons) that I am familiar with apart from the occasional mention on TV wildlife shows. I do fear thouh that we have not learn’t from our past and that wild animals are still under threat, re-introductions of others occur and conservation groups often play at being God. Then add hunting interests to the equation and we have a bad mix for wildlife. Sorry to sound negative…not my style but every so often you see an image and it triggers the thought process.

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    1. Thanks, David! Not sure I understand, but if you feel he is tired of photographs, maybe, (In this way he looks like my dog..) but there are very few around. I think I was the third since new year, and it is only now the wolverine has come out close..

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  7. I am surprised how pretty they are. Thanks for giving us such a good look at one. I am sure I will never see one in real life, at least in the wild.

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  8. About 6 years ago, I went on a little overnight solo hiking/camping trip out towards Banff. The entire trip was pretty spooky, starting with a windy, creepy night (remember I was alone). I woke up to the strangest smell, and after a little exploring, I found a FRESH partially eaten deer leg about 30 feet from my tent. Sure sign of grizzly, so I got out of there pretty quick.

    Then, about an hour up the trail, I rounded a bend, and came face to face with a rocky mountain sheep, full horns and all. He decided against head butting me, and just in time before I passed out from holding my breath did he head up the cliff. At that point, I thought I may be pushing my luck and decided to turn back.

    About an hour from the trail head, this THING ran out about 50 feet in front of me on the trail, saw me, faced me head on, and just looked at me. I had no idea what it was, I didn’t feel threatened, and he showed no signs of feeling threatened. We looked at each other for a full two hours! (Maybe 5 seconds, really, but it felt like forever). I thought it may be a wolverine, but I had no idea we had them up this way. I got home to google, and turns out we do, and they are very rare.

    How lucky am I, to have come face to face in the wild with one of these amazing creatures?! I will never forget it. Thanks for this post, it brought back amazing feelings of awe.

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  9. Hello, Bente. I’m enjoying your recent posts. We have wolverine here, too. I think their fur is quite beautiful. Nice to hear from you again.

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  10. How close were you to capture these photos? Looks like you were in a blind or a snow cave. Wonderful shots, really makes you appreciate their stature by the size of those paws.

    Nate-

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    1. Thanks, Nate! Since this is a wilderness park I was not hidden in any way. Niila has been in this park about 6 months (came from a zoo), and it took almost half a year to make him appear. As a wolverine he has food hidden and do not need to come forward every day for feeding, as he did not, untill now. I was with the person feeding him, and we were very close. That is Niila came close, till about 10-15 m maybe. He is not going to be tamed, but to be used to people. The staff there wants the animals to be as wild as possible, but also not hidden. They mean it is no point in captive animals if nobody can see them. They want to educate people about the nordic, wild animals. There are no visitors in this park from end of August till end of May, except on special occations.

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    1. Thanks, Finn. They are not many, and usuallu quite shy. But sometimes curious, and I know some people have gotten quite close to a wild one some times, by chance, but it does not happen often..

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  11. Wow, this is awesome capture. So sad that they hunt theme, arggggg that makes me so angry! What a beautiful animal. I have heard about theme, but never saw an image… Thanks for stopping by my blog!!! Looking foward to seeing some more amazing images!!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! The reason the wolverine are hunted is because otherwise they get too many. Wolverine kills a lot of sheep and especially reindeers. Hunting is for keepinbg a kind of balance, and the authorities decides how many can be hunted. This animal is very difficult to hunt, so the hunters only manage to hunt a few, and the wolverine population is rising.

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  12. Very honestly, the extent of my knowledge on wolverines began and ended with X-Men. Quite a startlingly creature, it is; almost mythical, even . . . Did you snap this photo yourself?

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    1. I agree, Cara, the wolverine is kind of mystical, in Norway because so few actually see any of them in the nature, and there are a lot of stories about them. And yes, I snap every picture on this blog myself, at least untill now. Thanks for your comment!

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  13. How flattering that you liked my post. My photos would at best be considered meager attempts. Yours are so beautiful.

    BTW, I live in Michigan, the “wolverine state” , but I don’t believe there are any there any longer.

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  14. You know, until now, I thought a wolverine was a fictional animal. What a gorgeous creature; very much like a species of bear. I love bears. Excellent pix and story.

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  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog and liking it! I love your pictures of this rare animal, we both seem to like enough to have blogged about. It actually looks quite cuddly on your pics!

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  16. Very cool photo Bente! Wolverine is powerful medicine. Thanks for stopping by the homestead at oceannah. I love getting to know new blogs and look forward to more photos 🙂 Pass by again soon.
    *anna

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