The Tierpark welcomes three Iberian wolves

A piercing gaze, bushy grey-brown fur, and sharp, pointed teeth – all the better to eat you with, my dear! Wolves have long played a threatening and thrilling role in cultural traditions throughout the world. Red Riding Hood, the three little pigs, the seven young kids were all defenceless innocents at the mercy of the Big Bad Wolf. 

In reality, wolves are much more peaceful and relaxed. Like the Tierpark’s new Iberian wolves, who arrived at the Tierpark from Lisbon Zoo last week. These three males don’t seem anything like their terrifying fairy-tale counterparts. Six-year-old Enrique sniffs tentatively at a fallen tree trunk before gently nipping the noses of his two-year-old sons and then flopping down in a cosy spot in the sunshine. 

Sheep in wolf’s clothing

The wolf’s bad reputation is really quite unfair. These shy pack animals are very intelligent, with highly developed social behaviour. In many parts of Europe, wolves have been almost entirely wiped out. Of course, people’s perception of wolves has largely been influenced by tales such as those collected by the Brothers Grimm. In recognition of this fact, the two young wolf brothers at the Tierpark have now been named Jacob and Wilhelm after the Grimms. “It somehow seems an appropriate name for our wolves,” said Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem. 

Adeus Lisboa! Willkommen in Berlin!

The three wolves had to bid adeus to their former home in Lisbon Zoo because the pack there has a new alpha male. Zookeepers have to carefully control which animals reproduce in order to avoid inbreeding and keep populations as genetically diverse as possible. Experts at the European Endangered Species Programme selected Tierpark Berlin as the new home for the three Iberian males, and it is the only zoo in Germany where visitors can see this subspecies. The three wolves have a 3,000 m² habitat that resembles their native forests, with mature trees and a sandy hollow. Iberian wolves differ in appearance from their Eurasian counterparts; they are slimmer and have dark markings, particularly on their front legs. Their fur is often a reddish brown, in contrast to the grey-brown fur of central European wolves.

The wolves are coming home

The Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population on the French-Spanish border was almost entirely wiped out in the 1960s, but numbers have since increased thanks to conservation efforts. Now around 2,500 wolves live on the Iberian Peninsula, particularly in the north-west. Unfortunately, however, the wolves are still at risk from hunting. That is why Tierpark Berlin decided to actively support efforts to protect this threatened subspecies of the Eurasian wolf by becoming a member of EAZA’s Iberian wolf European Endangered Species Programme.

And they all lived happily ever after

The three wolves are still getting to know their new territory and are spending lots of time loping around the habitat alone, sniffing at everything. During this phase, it is possible that a new hierarchy will develop among the three males.

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