A review of 2016

(21.12.2016, Lena Schaidl)

Photo: Rooobert Bayer Image 1 of 5 Open lightbox

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Wolf Science Center!

A very successful year is coming to an end and we would like to review 2016 together with you.

There was one event, which certainly dominated this year. We enlarged our wolf packs by welcoming five puppies from Canada and Russia. By coincidence, both litters where born on the same day: the 4th of May 2016. In the end of May, Ela (female) and Etu (male) from the Haliburton Wildlife Forest in Canada arrived in Ernstbrunn. Two week later, our three puppies from Russia joined the WSC team: Tekoa (male), Maikan (male) and Taima (female). All the puppies got along great together, quickly making friends.

Moving the puppies from Russia to Austria was a bueaurocratic masterpiece, which was only successful thanks to the immense dedication of our Manager Lena Schaidl, our trainers and a lot of supporters – including the Austrian diplomacy.

From even before their arrival the wolf puppies where taken care of by our trainers day and night and on the 10th of October they were integrated into our existing wolf packs.

Etu, Taima and Tekoa are now living with Chitto and Tala. Whereas at the moment Ela and Maikan are living together whilst we decide which pack is the best fit for them. 

The former paragraph reveals another change within the packs. We split up the so-called „black pack“. Our oldest „co-workers“ – Shima, Kaspar and Aragorn – turned 8 this year and we had to separate them from Tala and Chitto due to fights within the pack. The three seniors are enjoying their calm time and Chitto and Tala are happy with „their“ three puppies.

Within the dog packs, no major changes happened. Like the wolves, they participated in many research projects. 

We did not only enlarge our wolf packs this year, but also the human pack has new members. Katharina Kriegler and Lars Burkert started as trainer trainees and were a great support during the puppy raising period. Laura Stott went back to England for her PhD and therefore is no longer a trainer at the WSC. In the management team some changes happened as well. Lena Schaidl took over the tasks of Thomas Menne and Esther Rudolph is supporting the office as Team-Assistant since July.

In addition to our animal offspring, we also welcomed a few human offspring to the WSC family. Zsofia Viranyi gave birth to the young academic Dimos in April and our manager on maternity leave – Tina Gunhold-de Oliveira – in January added her son Lucas to the WSC family. 

We also made progress in finalizing the building of our new enclosures. The tunnel system, which connects the new wolf enclosures, was finished this year. So now we can shift animals from the very back of the park directly to our testhouse quickly.

Also on the scientific side we strengthened our international reputation considerably, by an increased number of publications in high quality scientific journals. Alongside several conference talks and poster presentations, we published four new scientific papers. Kurt published his third book this September with the title “Mensch & Hund” (Human & Dog), which became a bestseller in Austria within only a few weeks.

Also in the domain of public relations we were very active. We joined the “KinderUni” and the “Lange Nacht der Forschung” and our appearance was very well received by the public. We were well represented in the media too. Next to a very diversified coverage of our scientific publications and the wolf puppies, our wolves also acted in a cinema film (“Mein Fleisch und Blut”) for the first time. Additionally well-known, high-quality TV channels, such as Arte, Discovery Channel and BBC, visited us. They were mostly shooting documentaries about the work of the Wolf Science Center as well as the wolf – dog comparison in general.  

Of course, we also have big plans for next year. 

Nuru, one of our five-year-old male dogs will get two new hip joints. This is unfortunately necessary due to a strong hip dysplasia. As Nuru needs special attention and care after this operation, he will not go back into his pack, but will enjoy his early retirement in a private family. It is not decided yet, who will be the new owners of Nuru.

So all in all, a very exciting year is coming to an end. Without the continuous support of all our friends and supporters, this would not have been possible and we want to say thank you for that! For 2017, we are expecting a continuous positive development, even more, as some positive changes are already transpiring. Next year, we will provide more details. For the continuous well being of wolves, dogs and humans at the WSC we especially need your support.

We wish you Merry Christmas with your human packs and relaxing holidays. We hope, that you will also be a part of our story in 2017 and are looking forward to a year full of exciting events.

Warmest regards, 

Dr. Zsófia Virányi, Dr. Friederike Range and Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal and

the Team of the Wolf Science Center