Red Riding Hood gives medicine to the Big Bad Wolf?
The wolves in the wild have to deal with all sorts of troubles. Each day they try to survive in a world, in which they are confronted with different kinds of danger. Packs have to protect their territory against other wolves. When they hunt they take the risk of getting injured, as they have to take down defensive prey to provide food for themselves and their pack so that they do not starve. While wolves migrate, road traffic often turns out to be a deadly risk as well. Even the shot of a hunter unfortunately kills some wolves in the end although they are protected. Besides that, it is also possible that wolves die of an illness, as the wolves in the wild do not receive medical treatment.
Regarding that, the wolves of the Wolf Science Center (WSC) are lucky. Sometimes visitors of the WSC ask, if our wolves get medical treatment. If we answer in the affirmative, some visitors react surprised, as for them this seems to be unnatural. So why do we treat our animals with medications? Well, the wolves of the WSC do not live in the wild. If they are ill or need some support when they have their change of coat for example, we look after them to the best of our ability. The wolves and dogs are near and dear to everybody at the WSC. Their well-being is our top priority.
I am sure that most of you have a pet at home. And because of that I think that some of you know that it can be difficult to give medications to the beloved animal, for which we only wish the best (but how can you explain that to Bello?). Even though some animals are not problematic while giving them medications, you have to come up with some tricks for others. What is it like at the WSC?
Compared to the wolves, normally it is easier to give medications to the dogs. Sometimes I visit the dog Gombo and his friend Haida at the evening to give Gombo his medicine. Punctually, Gombo and Haida welcome me with wagging tails. They are already waiting for me. In advance I prepared pieces of sausage in which I cut a little hole to hide a tablet inside. Is Gombo skeptical when I offer him such a piece of sausage? No, he and especially Haida are the type of dog which would eat everything that you offer. And as a result the pieces of sausage quickly disappear in their mouths. They are happy about every single treat. Of course Haida also gets a treat even though she does not need a medicine. She should not come away empty-handed. Afterwards both are a happy camper about my visit and with a slimy hand that I got from Gombo I strike off to visit the wolves Nanuk and Una…
Giving the medications to the wolves is a little bit different. The beloved Nanuk is our elderly gentleman. His age leaves its mark on him and because of that he needs medical treatment from time to time. Armed with Nanuk’s most favorite dry food, sausage and the best rabbit filet you have ever seen you had to hope that mister agrees to come and take his medicine at the beginning of my internship. However, for the last weeks he has done really well, and is already waiting for me to come by. He is happy about all my visits and eats every single sausage with hidden tablet I offer him. Sometimes he cannot wait until I give him the next piece of sausage and he starts to paw the ground. Now and then, he asks for a special treatment before he takes the medicine: An extensive stroke through the fence! Yes, you cannot recognize a bloodthirsty beast in this wolf at all. If anything he is our cuddle bear.
A few wolves at the WSC cannot be fooled with the hidden medicine within a piece of sausage. It is possible that the piece of sausage or meat, in which the medicine can be rolled up, is shaken so long that the medicine falls out and then sausage or meat are devoured without the tablet. In that case we haul out the big guns: A treasured chick! Brought out of the freezer and already defrosted, the head of the chosen chick is pulled off. Through the open beak the tablet is pushed into the throat, the beak is closed afterwards, and the medicine safely packaged in the end. Nanuk’s partner Una is shier than Nanuk and because of that she needs a little bit more time and persuasion until she takes the head of the chick. Highly motivated and with a high voice you finally start calling her: “UUUniii!” or “Unibuni!” (Unas nickname which was even able to sneak into the calendar of the employees of the WSC). And when Una comes to you, takes the head of the chick of your hand, and places her trust in you to approach you, another wonderful day ends at the Wolf Science Center!