The adorable wolf pups at MN’s International Wolf Center finally have names


Meet Axel and Grayson.

They're the two wolf pups that came to Minnesota's International Wolf Center from a zoo in Canada earlier this year. The organization had a naming contest for the pups, and the winners were announced Monday.

Ray Leonard of Custer, Wisconsin, submitted the name Axel, in reference to Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian Arctic – the area is known for its unique wildlife, including arctic wolves, the International Wolf Center in Ely said on Facebook.

The wolf center describes Axel as a "bold pup that explores without hesitation."

Martha Cole of Duluth, Minnesota, suggested the name Grayson, meaning "son of steward." The center says a steward is best described as a caregiver, and Grayson "seems to have a calmer nature, spending more quiet time with staff."

Grayson's nickname is Grayback for the darker coloration on his back, the wolf center notes.

The wolf center said the people who submitted the winning names will be awarded a $300 prize package, which includes a one-year membership to the International Wolf Center, two tickets to see the pups in person and a variety of "fun wolf-themed merchandise."

More about the International Wolf Center

“The International Wolf Center advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future,” says its mission and values page.

The center does not breed wolves, but adopts pups every four years for its exhibit.

“These ambassador wolves are important learning opportunities for visitors to observe the biology and behavior of this misunderstood predator,” according to a news release.

More than 33,000 people visited the center in 2015, the release notes.

Next Up


Help name Minnesota's newest wolf pups

The International Wolf Center in Ely is inviting the public to submit names for two pups - one boy and one girl. The winning names will be announced on June 4. You can also watch the Center's new wolf pup Webcam streaming live video.

Wolf pup name winners: Luna and Boltz

The winning names were the most popular entries in a contest to label the pups that are joining the International Wolf Center's resident pack in Ely. Staff members are socializing the pups and hope to have them integrated into the pack by the end of next month.

Orion? Aysha? Vote now to name wolf pups

Or maybe ... Luna? The International Wolf Center in Ely is now asking people to vote on names for two wolf pups. The center received more than 3,000 suggestions, and judges narrowed that list to eight. Vote for your choice now!

International Wolf Center hires new executive director

Rob Schultz is succeeding Mary Ortiz, who is retiring after 25 years with the Wolf Center in Ely. The Duluth News Tribune reports Schultz has "an impressive track record of exceeding fundraising goals." Most recently, he served as the executive director of the Saint Paul Police Foundation.