My name is Rooobert Bayer, I’m a photographer and I mainly take photos from the scientific tests, from the research projects of the WSC, for public relation, for the calendar and for this website. And this is how it happened …
I was growing up in the city without relation to nature or to animals at all. My family doesn’t have dogs or cats; but I remember an ant invasion in our kitchen once when I was a child – that was really funny. My mother told me that I was always afraid of big dogs, but they attracted me in the same breath. I actually bear this contrariness in mind and my thoughts about it when playing between parked cars on the dusty road.
Several years went by and because I was not familiar with nature I became an artist. An illustrator, drawer, an author of children’s books and a painter. One day I looked for a birthday present of a dear friend and dog-fancier and so I came across the website of the Wolf Science Center. Luckily, I could order a Pack Visit exactly on this birthday. I scheduled to attend my friend just as a driver; and as a passionate photographer I hoped for one or two nice pictures of a wolf. I indeed had no emotional or else connection to wolves. For me animals were abstract creatures and I was used to observe and draw them from a distance.
I really expected this day with the Pack Visit would be a normal day – I never ever thought so wrong.
We got the security instructions in the seminar room and as the trainers finally led us into the enclosure to Tala, Chitto, Shima and Aragorn I started to take photos. In my mind there were constantly the wolf-rules: Don’t lean forward, keep a good stand, just pet from the side …
While photographing I sat on my haunches and suddenly I had a strange perception while the wolves getting closer and closer: I was absolutely not afraid. Even on the contrary. Only now it felt right what was wrong in my life before. In this moment Tala turned towards me. This proud white wolf dropped her head, peered at me with her bright eyes and came straight up to me. The wolf-being sparkled in Tala’s eyes, her snout was near the ground. I was aware of her curiosity which tilted over her shyness and I felt the self-confidence of an animal that is equal to us humans. Tala snuffled on me and she was so close to my neck that I lose my sense of time and from deep inside of me there came a rough power which hits me completely unexpected – I was only just the driver. My mind went back in time when humans and wolves lived together around the campfire and the near of these creatures was as normal as the night follows the day. All of a sudden, I understood this relationship and the knowing of the deadly power of the respective species and the faith on both sides not to break this alliance. Face to face with Tala, with her mighty jaw and her big teeth I felt an exalted silence. I perceived a power to be stronger with a wolf at my side than without. Then I went back to reality.
Next day I sent my photos to the Wolf Science Center and they must have been not so bad, because the trainers asked me if I could imagine to portrait their dogs. I had time to spare, it was funny, and my rusty car was in need of movement and so one thing led to another. Because of the wolves and dogs, I perceive an unknown trait of me now, a strong familiarity to these creatures who are so similar to us – but has much more hair on their back. In particular the whole WSC-team, not least the trainers, boosts my social trait and I changed from a lone wolf to a team player.
In the year 2016 when the five wolf puppies arrived I got the faith and the chance to join the breeding. I felt touching moments, made some awesome photos and met Etu, my special favourite wolf, in his first weeks after his birth. I could write a book here – but I just can imagine the management team tear their hair because of my long text. So, I’ll tell you the story of Etu and me next time …