WSC short stories

Clara Schnitzler (Intern)



Crazy things are always happening here at the Wolf Science Center. To better represent life at the WSC, I wanted to collect a few stories from our animal trainers and caretakers for this blog post.

Etu the fat one

In the early days of the WSC, visitors could book a so-called photo shoot. In addition to visiting our dogs and wolves, this program also included feeding the wolves. So that the guests could take photos, the food portion (e.g. a piece of deer or dead chickens/rabbits) of a wolf pack was tied to a tree with a chain. If each animal were simply given a piece of food, as is usually the case, there would be little chance that the photographers would be able to take exciting photos in this situation.
For this purpose, some food items (in this case two rabbits and a chicken) are tied to a tree with a chain. Maikan and Etu (wolves) had to pose for this photo shoot. However, Etu claimed all the food for himself and did not want to share. So, two rabbits and a chicken ended up in Etu's stomach. This is slightly more than a normal portion for our wolves and so Etu was so fat that he couldn’t go through the shift to the other enclosure anymore.


What the farmer does not know, he does not eat

There are many different animals on the menu for our wolves. One day there was a donkey for dinner. The donkey had died at a local farmer's house and to make use of the animal's death, they wanted to feed it to the wolves. But our pack of 9 at the time didn't want to take part in that plan. To them it wasn´t food. When they were puppies, they never got to know donkeys as food and what the wolf does not know, it doesn't eat. Only two wolves ate the donkeys: Apche and Cherokee. The two have never been very picky when it comes to food. Maybe the other wolves should take an example from the two.


Fidgety treat for Kenai

Our wolves like to go for walks because outside of the enclosure there are always exciting things to experience. Mark on the urine of enemies, watch deer flee or, as here, touch a fish. At the Wolf Science Center there is a pond where the wolves are given the opportunity to swim. Wapi always liked to go swimming. Kenai had other interests. He wanted to hunt one of the fish, and his efforts eventually paid off. Kenai was incredibly proud of his hunting success, but when the fish suddenly started to wriggle, Kenai just dropped it in shock. Luckily for the fish, it jumped back in to safety.


Cleaning the enclosure with a wolf

Once a week you can watch a special spectacle in the wolves' enclosures. People, armed with buckets and shovels, are looking for the waste and fecal matter of the animals. Also known as "enclosure cleaning". So that we don't disturb the animals with the loud clattering buckets, they are placed in a separate enclosure and we can start looking for excrement and remains of their food. With one wolf, however, this is not quite so easy. Wamblee doesn’t like to leave his enclosure. But so that Wamblee can also feel comfortable in a fresh enclosure, there is an exception for him. Trainers who have built up a stable relationship of trust with Wamblee through intensive socializing can go into the enclosure and clean up together with Wamblee. Wamblee is extremely cooperative. When Corinna (trainer) wants to collect feces in the enclosure, Wamblee runs and digs up an old piece of beef and brings it to Corinna. He quickly turns around and gallops to another spot, digs diligently, and comes back with another piece of beef. By the end, Wamblee brought Corinna three pieces of beef and a stripped deer leg. The beef was probably not tasty enough and he was clearly finished with the deer leg.

Sacrificial Fatherhood

The mating season for wolves is from February to March. About ten weeks after a successful mating, the wolf pups see the light. Here at the WSC, the wolves do not have their own offspring because our males have been vasectomized. However, for scientific studies it is particularly important that the animals are hormonally intact, which is why we do not castrate the wolves and dogs. This means that the hormone balance still adjusts to prepare for puppies after the mating season. Due to this, the female animals become pseudopregnant and, therefore, begin to dig holes and begin to lactate. The male of the pair also reacts to this. To give the female more energy, he regurgitates his food and gives it to her. Gero, in this case, always takes this job very seriously. But as a result, he keeps getting thinner. To make sure his weight loss doesn’t get out of hand, the trainers feed Gero almost every day so that he has enough reserves for himself.