Except for man the wolf is the most widespread predator. It has several subspecies that are different in their appearance as they have to adapt to highly diverse environments.
The wolves living at the HORKAI Animal Training Center are European grey wolves with a greyish-russet fur coat.
In the nature they are living in organized family groups called packs. It’s the same at the Center, but the main difference is that here man is a member of the pack. But while Zoltan is regarded as an active member of the hierarchy and tested to be repelled from the leader\’s position year by year, we, the others are awaited by them with love and affection throughout the year. Of course personal conflicts can happen sometimes…
Among the members of the pack a severe hierarchy prevails in which each single animal knows its own and his companions\’ position. There is a separate hierarchy between males and females, but this may change in captivity as we observed many times when a female dominated her male companion in a lower position.
The hierarchy debates intensify in January, the dominance fights are stronger and the mating begins. It is necessary to deal with the wolves with increased carefulness at this time, you need to consider their wild instincts. Working with them requires special attention and awareness in this season.
The communication of the wolves is exceptionally sophisticated. One of its most important elements is the body language where the long shaggy tail plays the most important role. In the past years our experiences taught us a lot on how we should interpret this complicated language – although we are still learning day by day. If for example a grumbling wolf waits for us with a rigid body at the gate of the enclosure with his tail raised up for the sky and his hair jarring, we better walk away. That means our presence is undesirable and we can only enter for our own risk. If the receiving wolf draws his body with scraped ears while it is waving his tail vividly, it means that we may enter without any problem.
Our special relationship with the wolves is best highlighted by the fact that they allowed us to film the pups\’ births many times. The pups are born at the end of April/beginning of May with closed eyes and ears that will be open when they are 10-14 days of age. As a necessary basis for our future relationship with the animal this is the ideal time to separate the pups from their mothers and to start raising them from bottle.