Wolves and trainers

The majority of the animals living in the Centre are playing in films, and as they are wild animals we must start to build up the relationship with them from a very young age – this is the basis for all future activities.

It does not mean a classic training schedule: we try to make the animals get used to human environment first. The training and preparation for filming begins only at a later stage. We take away the pups from their mother before their eyes open at 10-14 days of age and then let them spend most of their times with us as pups.

We socialized all wolves living at the HORKAI Animal Training Center one by one: each wolf pup got a “stepmother” who took the helpless kid with herself everywhere. They went to school and cinema together and traveled by tram, subway, trains, etc.. With the help of a baby-kangaroo worn in the neck we were able to stay in physical contact with our little clients. Another method was raising the pups in pack: we made 7 or 11 pups get used to human environment at the same time. Of course it means fewer stimuli to an animal compared to individual upbringing. With one animal you can be mobile but carrying 5 or more animals is rather circumstantial.

We have not observed the negative effects of raising the pups this way: we think that the personality of the animal counts a lot more beyond the educational circumstances. We have one wolf that was brought up alone and even this way he became rather shy and mistrustful, while its companion has grown up in pack and still become much more friendly and trustful with people. Circumstances may change but one thing is always the same: we never punish young wolves. Consequently, if they chewed our favourite book or peed in our shoes we never scolded them as this could endanger our future contact. The animal raised this way will be scared, or – what is even worse – may become aggressive. So we had only one chance: we took a deep breath and tried to pay attention to the sunny sides of raising up wolves…

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