When bones are cracking

(28.07.2017, Viola Magierski)

Photo: Atelier Rooobert Bayer Image 1 of 2 Open lightbox

Keeping carnivores in captivity is certainly an interesting an explosive topic. Very often, visitors ask us how we feed the wolves and what kind of food they get. A whole animal or pieces, usually chickens or rabbits, occasionally cows and pigs, every 2-3 days, are our answers. Wolves eat every part of a dead animal. Feathers and fur, bones and stomach contents. They use these parts to cover their needs for vitamins and calcium. The Wolf is very adaptable, even fruits can be a part of their diet.

I have known all of this already before I came to the WSC. What I have learned here mainly because of the wolves’ presence, is an even deeper awareness of human’s mass consumption. Sounds odd? Let me explain… Humans eat meat, a lot of it. This is not a secret and that this meat is mostly produced by big farms in mass productions is not a secret too. Everyone is aware of this fact. Animals that are sometimes kept in narrow cages, suffering pain, experiencing a lot of stress, often being bored, never seeing the daylight and being killed within a few days or weeks. I don’t want to present a preachment, this is just one side of our world. But to be aware of a fact like this does not mean that we understand it. Humans often need own experiences and must see it with their own eyes to realize something. At the WSC it happens sometimes that the wolves are fed with animals that belong to the loss rate category of meat production. Animals such as piglets, who were squashed from their mother, miscarriages from breeding animals and male chicks, who were killed, because they cannot lay eggs and are therefore useless in egg production. At least these dead animals did not die completely in vain, when the wolves can eat them. A greater awareness and understanding evolved in me by seeing this at the WSC. Livestock breeding includes more than dead animals which end up on our plates or eggs on our breakfast tables. We sometimes forget what mass production is all about and that more lives are lost during the production process than one would expect.

Beside this impression, some of the students at the WSC already have learned a lot about anatomy, more than in any biology course. Of course, some students are more interested in this than others, which is understandable.

A few days ago, I observed Yukon (one of the wolves at the WSC) while she was eating. It was very impressive for me. She ate the adult chicken with pleasure and without rush. Nothing in this picture was bloody-minded. It was moving to see her diligent method of shearing everything in small pieces and eating every single piece of it. I do not want to be kitschy, but even the sound of the bones cracking in her mouth and to listen to her smacking at the late afternoon was stunning. Immediately the view, that the wolf is so much closer connected to nature than we humans are with our way of meat consumption, came to my mind.