Yellowstone National Park is a wilderness area located mostly in Wyoming. People killed off wolves in the area in the 1920s, but reintroduced the species in the 1990s to restore balance to the natural environment. Researchers who studied the wolves that were introduced have many stories to tell…
One such story involves a character by the name of wolf 8.
Wolf 8 was the smallest of his litter. As pups, researchers often observed his brothers and sisters picking on him. They would pin him down and nip at him – simply because they could. He didn’t show much promise.
When he and his siblings became yearlings, one researcher observed something that made him think twice about this little wolf…
Wolf 8 and his siblings were playing when suddenly, they paused and dashed into the trees. Soon enough, one of them came running back out with part of an elk carcass. Then another came running, and another, until finally, the little wolf dashed out with a grizzly bear right behind him!
The grizzly was huge compared to wolf 8. He could have taken him out with one swipe of his paw. Would this be how he’d meet his end?
That’s when wolf 8 did something totally unexpected. He turned around to face the grizzly, which stopped the grizzly in his tracks.
The two stared at each other without making a sound. After what felt like an eternity, wolf 8 slowly walked away in the direction of his siblings. He seemed confident that the grizzly wouldn’t follow, and the grizzly didn’t. None of his siblings witnessed the event.
Could there be more to wolf 8 than originally thought?
Not long after the incident with the grizzly, researchers discovered that a vehicle had accidentally hit and killed the alfa male to a neighbouring family of wolves. The alfa female of this pack, wolf 9, was left all alone to feed and protect her pups.
It just so happened that wolf 8 was out exploring one day when he encountered wolf 9 and her pups. Initial meetings between wolves from different packs are precarious, especially when there are pups involved. However, wolf 8 showed affection and kindness to 9’s pups, licking them and playing with them. As such, he and wolf 9 had a friendly encounter.
After that, wolf 9 invited wolf 8 to be the new alfa male in her pack. He accepted the invitation.
With his small size and family history, it was easy to think that wolf 9 made a grave mistake in selecting him as the family’s chief protector. Their survival would depend on him in many ways. Surely a bigger and more powerful wolf would be the better choice, wouldn’t it?
Wolf 8 seemed to integrate seamlessly into his new family. He adopted wolf 9’s previous pups without hesitation and sired his own litter. He cared for all pups equally – an unusual behaviour for a wolf.
Later, wolf 8 was out with three of his adopted offspring, now yearlings, looking for a meal. They spotted a group of elk in a valley and managed to take down a calf.
They had just started feasting when four wolves from a different pack appeared at the top of the hill. There was one very large alfa male with three adult females.
The alfa male was known to researchers as wolf 38. He was the biggest and meanest of the wolves that were introduced to the park years previous. He had torn apart his metal cage when researchers transported him from Canada to Yellowstone. After arriving at the park, he had fought and killed at least one other alfa male – wolf 8’s father.
Almost as soon as they appeared at the top of the hill, the four intruders started racing down it, led by wolf 38. They would dominate the other pack, steal their hard-earned meal, and win new territory.
Shockingly, wolf 8 started racing up the hill toward his opponent as soon as wolf 38 started down – maybe sooner.
What was he doing? He would be out of breath from the climb upon meeting his more powerful opponent!
It seemed this situation would expose wolf 8 as a vastly inferior alfa male. He would die fighting the same animal that killed his father – a real tragedy.
The two wolves crashed into each other and fought viciously. It was impossible to tell who was winning when they were rolling around on the ground. Finally, one wolf stood victorious with the other pinned down.
It was wolf 8!
After some time, he let wolf 38 walk away with his tail between his legs. The adult females followed. It was an inconceivable event.
For years, wolf 8 was the most successful wolf in the park. He lived a long life and sired many pups.
His story is the subject of study for researchers and readers alike. What factors enabled the unexpected triumph of wolf 8?
He displayed three qualities of character that made for his success:
If you think about it, this curious tale of Yellowstone’s underdog is relevant to our lives as small business owners…
We, too, are underdogs. We run practices under conditions that do more to hinder than help us. These conditions also tend to favour our big firm competitors.
Wolf 8 reminds us that might doesn’t always equal right. We can overcome our natural disadvantages by challenging the status quo, leading with heart, and using the element of surprise against those who underestimate us. We can learn to outperform the forces working against us.
Here’s to the unexpected triumph of our small businesses.
Proven Marketing for Professionals Inc.
P.S. You can read more about Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction project in Rick McIntyre’s The Rise of Wolf 8. It’s a great book.
P.P.S. If you want to learn proven marketing strategies to assist in the triumph of your practice, email email@example.com. I offer complimentary initial consultations and strategy sessions. We can schedule a time to chat.