Ingo Besserdich

Research in animals provides an insight into the development of social structures and communication systems in humans, so for me as a bachelor student in psychology, working with animals that have social structures and relationships with humans is a great opportunity to learn more about the human development. Although it is not common for psychology students from my University to do research related internships in places like the WSC, I use this internship to learn more about evolutionary psychology, which is one of my favourite fields in psychology. I am glad for the opportunity to include this internship in my bachelor degree at the Saarland University in Germany.

It is a great pleasure to work with the animals at the WSC and to become acquainted with the different characters of each animal here. I work next to contemplative and intelligent wolves like Geronimo, though there are some over-motivated animals like Amarok, where you always have to keep an eye on your test-equipment, and wolves like Kenai, which can be frightened easily.

For the time of my internship I am performing a risk taking test, where both wolves and dogs can choose between a stable food source with less preferred food (dry food) and a “food” source which provides 50% of the time a non-edible item (rock) and 50% of the time the preferred food item (meat, sausage or chicken). The goal of this study is to examine risk taking behaviour of wolves as hunters and dogs as domesticated animals in connection to food. 

Other than my test, there are other things to do and to experience, like giving tours for the visitors, and helping other students with their tests. Living here means not only testing and working, but it is also a great place to live, work and speak with people from different countries and fields of interests, as well as being able to come in physical contact with wolves and sometimes even get the opportunity to pet one of them. 

The experiences I've gathered in the first weeks of my internship, both in working with the animals and with the trainers, researchers and students, are great and I'm happy to still have the second half of my internship left.