Fifty shades of wolves
Wendy Lichtenauer (intern)
When I first arrived at the Wolf Science Center, I was overwhelmed by the many wolves and dogs and I had a hard time keeping track of all the names. Especially since the wolves seemed so alike in their appearance. In my first days, I could only distinguish between four shades of colours: the whites, the gray-browns, the all-browns and the blacks.
The other students kindly gave me an introduction to the animals and showed me the picture book we kept in the house. They gave tips on how to tell the animals apart and told stories about the personalities of the individual dogs and wolves. I memorized the names of the wolves in the pack and their main colour and for some packs, this was sufficient. For example, the T’n’T pack is made up of two wolves; the jet-black female Taima and her all-brown brother Tekoa. Yet it was not that easy in all packs. All members of the Black Pack are (as their pack name says) black and the only way I could tell Talitto’s apart were by their eyes; Tala’s eyes are a warm amber-golden colour, whereas Chitto’s are beautifully light-blue.
After spending three months here at the WSC, I can easily identify each wolf at a glance without having to know which pack I’m looking at. I now see the subtle differences in their physical appearance; the colours, markings, size, head shape, etc. More importantly, I finally am getting to know their personality. For example, Taima is one of the smallest wolves, but nonetheless incredibly fierce. Her brother Tekoa is less hot-headed. Chitto is quite friendly and very smart. Instead of using his size and strength, he prefers to use his wits to make sure he get his share when Tala is in one of her bossy moods.
I am looking forward to the four months I have left at the WSC and the time I can spend with the animals.