Working in the Winter Wonderland

Sophia Krause (Intern)



As a scientific intern at the WSC, I am working with the trainers and scientific staff on the Noisy Cup project. The aim of this project is to investigate if animals have a causal understanding of the position of food - or in other words, if they understand that a noisy cup contains food while a silent cup is empty. For this, dogs and wolves are presented with two cups that make a rattling sound or no sound when shaken, depending on whether there is food inside or not.  We record the choice of the animals and evaluate the results afterwards.

I particularly enjoy observing the animals and experiencing their unique personalities. With regard to the Noisy Cup project, the most striking fact is the different ways in which the animals react to the experiment – some are extremely motivated or curious, some find the experiments simply boring, and others are rather sceptical about this strange apparatus. This also shows that each wolf and dog have their own character and behaviour, just like us humans.

And as if everything wasn't exciting enough, the first snow suddenly falls – much earlier than expected! Overnight, the whole park turns into a winter wonderland and I have to admit that wolves look even more majestic in this world of powdered sugar. As a hobby photographer, I now love to spend a few free minutes sitting in the snow in front of the fence and taking some pictures. While I am shivering in the snow despite the typical “onion look” of thermal underwear, fleece and winter jacket combined with beanie, scarf and gloves, the cold temperatures don't bother the wolves at all thanks to their thick – and also beautiful and photogenic – winter fur. However, compared to the pure white fresh snow, their white fur no longer seems quite so white.

While some people feel a classic winter depression or suffer an emotional crisis, the wolves are in the heat of the moment! Because over the winter months, between January and March, it's mating season and the hormones already go crazy before January. However, for the wolves at least, this means that the experiments are (or have to be) suspended for the time being, as Mr. and Mrs. Wolf now have much more important things to do than being concentrated at work. So it remains exciting until the end!

Even though I love the snowy winter, I am now looking forward to experiencing spring (hopefully soon) here at the WSC and am very curious about the results of the experiments.

On that note: Cheers to many more goosebump moments during the howling concerts of the wolves! Awooo!