The „grand gris monsieur“ amongst the wolves
Elisabeth Bittermann (intern)
Away from the publicly accessible paths of the visitor area at the WSC, in a quietly located enclosure Aragorn lives. With him and his pack mates, the wolves of the Black Pack, everything started. When the Wolf Science Center was founded in 2008 at the Konrad Lorenz Research Facility, four black wolves formed the pioneer pack. It originally consisted of two female wolves and two male wolves. Meanwhile only two of the wolves, the Black Street Boys (Copyright Kathi 😉) are still alive, the two males, who have already attained the great age of eleven years. In the wild wolves get about ten years old.
One of them is Aragorn, the “grand gris monsieur” of the center wolves. He is the biggest amongst the WSC wolves. Because of his advanced age, his fur has already turned quite grey, also the pigmentation of the wolves’ fur is subject to an ageing process. Some time ago we, students and interns, had the opportunity to visit Aragorn in his enclosure, for sure accompanied by trainers who have also been hand raising the black pack. It turned out, that it was not that easy to get Aragorn’s attention. Whereas Kaspar immediately appeared at the fence, when he heard us coming closer, Aragorn stayed out of sight.
Not only his fur got grey because of his mature age, also his ability to hear properly as well as his eyesight have decreased within the last years. Besides that, especially on quite hot days, Aragorn does one or the other nappies in his shelter or at another hidden, shady spot. He simply is an old man, who just like as human beings has to go through certain ageing processes. At least the trainers managed to elicit “Monsieur Wolf” by calling his name in all pitches and volumes. Slowly and at a measured step Aragorn walked by and did a round of giving paw, just like a youngster and also took the goodies from Marianne the head of the trainers. Aragorn loves meat and is really happy getting a meaty reward for working. His scenting ability seems to be unaffected by age because he stayed close to Marianne with his nose stuck to her food pocket. It was a wonderful experience to get so close to Aragorn and to do “paw shaking”! According to his decreasing ability to hit one’s hand, his claws, his power and weight, it was a bit painful, but really touching!