My name is Katharina Kriegler and I grew up in Ernstbrunn. I have been interested in the Wolf Science Center ever since it moved to the Wildpark Ernstbrunn. I already got to know the WSC in 2009, but just as a visitor. At first I only took small steps towards the canids, but those steps gradually became bigger and bigger until the dogs and wolves finally became my full-time job.
Since my childhood until 2012 there have only been cats and budgies among my pets. I didn’t come into that much contact with dogs (if I did, then because of my friends and my grandmother), but according to my mother, I always used to be on good terms with them.
In 2010 I started to go for walks with dogs from an animal shelter. Due to my regularly visits there I got to know the first dog I began taking care of – Zorro. Zorro always used to be some kind of teacher for me and he was also my first best dog-friend. I learned so much with and about him and I am more than grateful for the wonderful time we shared. After Zorro unfortunately passed away in 2012 it didn’t take long until the animal shelter staff paired me successfully off with my dear dog Bambino McGee, who has been living with me since 2012. I have already learned a lot with him, too. Our hobbies are mantrailing and catching mice.
Because of my growing interest in dogs and their behaviour, I couldn’t stop thinking about the WSC and I wanted to be more than a visitor. This wish finally came true in autumn 2013 when I got marginally employed at the WSC office (in addition to my full-time job for an airline). In spring 2015 I got an opportunity I couldn’t miss: the possibility of a full-time position for tourism and public relations at the WSC office. And that’s how I exchanged the airline business and the kerosene-filled air of the airport for the wolf science business and the refreshing forest air of the wonderful Wildpark Ernstbrunn.
In spring 2016 the WSC planned to hand raise five wolf cubs with the help of animal trainer trainees. I applied for that position and fortunately, I was accepted as a trainer trainee. Since April 2016 I have been now an animal trainer at the WSC. With the arrival of the wolf cubs in May/June 2016 began the exhausting, but above all exciting and wonderful period of cub-raising. I do not want to miss this time with the cubs for anything in the world. During this time I have already had the opportunity to get to know and to work with the adult wolves and dogs of the WSC. After the young wolves had left their “puppy-enclosure nest” in autumn I had the chance to spend even more time with the grown-ups.
In the meantime, my four-legged colleagues, who are so different in character, are all very close to my heart and I love working with them as well as with my two-legged colleagues. I learn so much from all of them every exciting day at the WSC. At this point I would like to say thank you to my dear colleagues, who share their extensive knowledge, their experiences and the fun and enjoyment of working with animals with me.
I have been an animal trainer at the WSC for quite a while now and in addition to animal care activities, trainings and carrying out various tests with the animals with the help of students I am also allowed to do guided tours, to take our visitors with me when I go for a walk with the wolves or when I visit the pack. This is also something I really enjoy; since it means that I can exchange ideas and experiences with people who have, just like me, a great interest in dogs and wolves and who are just as passionate about them as I am.
In addition to my work at the WSC I try to attend further education courses for animal trainers as often as possible. The exchange with other people, getting to know interesting facts about the latest findings on the learning theory and practicing our trainer skills is also a lot of fun. At the WSC every single day is different and almost every day the animals have big or small surprises in store (fortunately, mostly positive ones). That’s why I am never bored at work. I am always happy when an animal begins to trust me a bit more or when I see them approaching joyfully as I get closer to their enclosure.