Dr. Zsófia Virányi

Leader and founder
Contact zsofia.viranyi@vetmeduni.ac.at
With us since 2008
Favourite animal at the WSC Geronimo, Nuru
Companion Tódor

Since its foundation in 2008  Friederike, Kurt and I are the leaders of the WSC. Basically that means to combine scientific research, enlightenment of the public, animal protection (welfare) and financial management. A very exciting challenge, having reached thus a complexity I never would have thought of. We started with 4 black wolves and 4 humans in 1 enclosure.There was pletny of time, to spend the nights with our wolf puppies, to work with them at the touch screen and to test several tasks of behaviour. Nowadays we are several wolf- and man packs, spread on a large facility and a considerable group of scientists, animal trainers, managers, instructors, students and volunteers, ern, Tiertrainern, Managern, Ausbildern, Studenten und freiwilligen Helfern. My own task an my passion is to ensure, that all of them enjoy working together for reaching our common aims. Thereby I hardly have time for the animals. But I love the moments, when evolution shows up and I 'm able to watch some similarities or differences in the behaviour of our wolf - and dog packs!

As long as I can remember I was fond of being in company with animals. I grew up with the books of Konrad Lorenz, Joy Adamson and Vilmos Csanyi and in the year 2000 I finished my studies of biology at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest/ Hungary. 

Since ever i wanted to understand the speech (language) of the animals and therefore I landed (ended up) as scientist in the field of cognitive science.  Already then it was my aim to combine science and its practical use (application), in particular by my studies in dog therapy and in dog training. in the field behavioural biology (ethology) I set my priorities in dogs, but I also gained experience with primate like apes, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, common marmosets and of course with children. And with wolves!

I started to work with wolves in the year 2000 in Hungary. This was part of a project in comparing dog and wolf - the Family Dog Project. over the period of 4 years I raised 2 dog and 2 wolf puppies at home - Tódor being the last of them, who spends his whole life with me. For about 4 months the two wolves Rebeka and Bogi accompanied my daily life. They came with me to university by using public means of transport. I was taught by this time to cherish dogs. Dogs are wolves, who are able to live safely with us and also to enjoy the kind of life, that is provided by our environments. Thus I had a strong bonding to these wolves and it was very bitter for me to leave them back, since the cooperation with their owner was ended. Together with Bea Belényi and Enikő Kubinyi we tried everything to start the project again for getting the full responsibility for our animals. At this time we were not yet successful in Hungary.

Anyhow, my scientific career was still a success. After some time in Germany and Japan I got a post-doc position in the year 2006 at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Altenberg/Austria. Here the cooperation with Friederike Range, Ludwig Huber uand Kurt Kotrschal started. Together with Friederike and Kurt we observed our fighting for a similar aim. We dombined our forces and the WSC was born. The WSC, dedicated to etholoy and where we do have the full responsibility for our animals.Absolutely the greatest feeling!

Afterwards I worked for 2 years at the Department for cognition biology of the University of Vienna. Since the end I am senior-scientist at the Messerli Research Institute (www.vetmedui.ac.at/messerli) at the Veterinary University of Vienna. Here, in the Clever Dog Lab (www.cleverdoglab.at) I enjoy to compare the behaviour of hundreds of domestic (pet) dogs of various breeds, keeping conditions and different ages with the behaviour of the pack kept dogs and wolves at the WSC.

Besides the ethology of dogs and wolves I coordinated the Research Network Program CompCog“ (www.compcog.org).