Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 23/09/2012

Z is for Striped ‘Orse*

Grey Wolf, originally uploaded by

How fitting, a Grey Wolf for a Grey Day; it has rained for the whole day, something that hasn’t happened for a long time, despite England’s reputation of being an inclement country. There is a private collection of Wolves within 20 minutes drive from my house, in fact we pass it every week as we make our way to football, but despite numerous open days and affiliation to the football club I’ve never managed to visit the centre. The enclosure that the wolves live in is on the side of a large hill covered in natural woodland, creating as natural a habitat as is possible when there’s a ten feet high metal fence running around the perimeter.

Dartmoor Zoo, who I have a special affection for (as long term readers will know), are about to take delivery of a new pack of wolves and have worked hard at reworking the existing enclosure to accommodate the animals. The Zoo had inherited a diminishing pack of aged wolves when they purchased the park, and with the loss of a key pack member the remaining numbers were unsustainable – there is a critical mass to a wolf pack below which the rigid structure and discipline falls apart which can lead to injury or even death amongst the remaining animals.

If it were you or I trying to resolve the issue, we’d try and introduce some new wolves to the existing number, wouldn’t we Dear Reader? That, however, wouldn’t work and would lead to more animals suffering with perpetual in fighting. The good people at the zoo are of course professionals whose only concern is the welfare of their animals (mine is as well, but in an amateurish way!) and so the decision was to split the remaining group, sending them out to various zoos and then introduce an existing pack with an established social structure into the existing environment.

The Zoo aren’t letting the grass grow under their feet though (though they do let it grow nicely under their animals feet, hooves or paws!) – they’re staying with the grey theme, they’re hoping to hear the patter of large hooves.. the hillsides of Dartmoor will soon be seeing a very different type of wild pony.. a striped one… Zebra are in the building!

* My friend has a great t-shirt with this phrase on it, and a picture of a zebra under it.


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