Peaceful evenings in the soap bubble

(31.08.2016, Lara Bernasconi)

wild boar piglet Photo: Lara Bernasconi Image 1 of 1 Open lightbox

I arrived at the WSC almost four weeks ago, and as almost all students told me and wrote in their blogs, during the first two weeks the days are long. I had to learn all the names of the animals and people here, the rules, how to work in the shop, help during other people’s tests…  I was therefore very tired, and I thought that I would never remember everything and that I would have made many mistakes. By the way, I am still getting used to the Austrian dialect!

However, during the last week the time passed so quickly! I have finally started practicing my German more with tourists while I am in the WSC shop for example, and I have started to really enjoy the activities we do at the WSC, as well as the entire park surrounding the house and the center. I really love being deep into nature, surrounded by so many animals. Therefore, I have also started to observe the animals in the enclosures around the park, while hiking up and down the hill to and from the “Test house” and enjoy those moments. By the way, some days ago a wild boar was born, and this is the first time in my life I could see a baby wild boar! It looks so tiny and vulnerable, but at the same time so fluffy and full of life!

My favorite time of the day in the park is the evening, with the swish of the leaves and the fresh summer breeze. In the evening the park is silent, except for the woodpeckers at work, the wild boars grunting and, of course, the wolves howling. In these moments, I love sitting somewhere to just relax and listen to the sounds of nature (Am I describing a fantasy world?). These moments fill me up with energy and all the fatigue is gone. Now it is time to go to the house and enjoy a social evening with the other students!

Of course, since the reason I came here was to work on my master thesis on wolves and dogs, for me the wolves are the most fascinating animals here. And even though I can see them every day, every contact with them is special and they will never stop fascinating me. Therefore, since I love observing them, nothing is better than doing observations with the “pocket observer” we have here at the center. This is a smartphone app to record the social behaviours of our dogs and wolves, in order to establish the hierarchies of each pack, and the affiliation between pack members. This is an important part of the work we do at the WSC, both for the possibility of using those data for student projects investigating social relationships and also for the welfare of the animals in their pack.

I am now practicing coding behaviours with the pocket observer in order to be able to collect data myself. I am happy I can learn a lot about wolf and dog behaviour by doing observations. Therefore, I really enjoy spending time observing the animals interacting among each other in the peaceful evening setting of the park.

I have the impression of living in a soap bubble, an enriching new reality with amazing animals, nature and amazing people, far away from the chaotic cities and routine (but maybe it is not just an impression). It is going to be a life experience I will never forget!