Although wolves are born to be killers and are quite savage in the execution of the deed, they do not act thoughtlessly. They might even be moved to mercy during disputes with their own species.
An excerpt from the book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina, published at Salon, shared amazing observations about a wolf at Yellowstone National Park known as Twenty-One.
Twenty-One was an alpha male. The researcher, Rick McIntyre, described him as a "legend" who "never lost a fight."
When Twenty-One eventually died of old age, a particularly troublesome rival male that Twenty-One had granted mercy became the pack alpha. The researcher speculated that the wolf had been merciful because his status had been proven by victory, and a kill was not necessary to further prove status. And perhaps the animal had an innate sense that the bold rival would be able to contribute his strength to the survival of the pack one day.“If ever there was a perfect wolf, it was Twenty-One,” says Rick, using the wolf’s research-collar number as his name. “He was like a fictional character.“Twice, I saw Twenty-One take on six attacking wolves from a rival pack — and rout them all,” Rick recalls. “I’d think, ‘A wolf can’t do what I am watching this wolf do.’ Watching him felt like seeing Bruce Lee fighting.”Wolf territorial fights resemble human tribal warfare. Wolves often target the rival pack’s alphas, seemingly understanding that if they can rout or kill the experienced leaders, victory will be theirs.Twenty-One distinguished himself in two ways: He never lost a fight, and he never killed a vanquished rival.
I found this article compelling because of the evidence of mercy. As I write the Werewolves in the Renaissance series, I've been continually researching wolves in order to give Thal, my werewolf hero, wolf-like nuances.
In the story, he has exhibited mercy on more than one occasion with other werewolves. He felt a need to give one of his own kind a chance. He knew he could defeat them because of his superior power, but he wanted to gain their loyalty more than their death. When I came across this article, it seemed to me that Thal's motivations made sense in a wolf-way.
Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale by Tracy Falbe
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Journey of the Hunted: Werewolves in the Renaissance 2
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