A Pack of Six beautiful grey wolves were released into a woodland enclosure on the Escot Estate in East Devon this week.
Park General Manager George Hyde said, “We’re delighted to have the wolves in their new woodland home. Their arrival has been highly anticipated, and marks a significant moment in the Trust in its newly developing our Wildwood ‘rewilding’ centre in Devon.
For many centuries, the European grey wolf, canis lupus, has been a much maligned animal – persecuted due to fear, hate and misunderstanding. Today, with a new understanding of the wolf, many myths depicting the wolf as a villain have been dispelled and it is coming to be respected as the awe-inspiring animal it truly is. It is the Wildwood Trust’s mission to continue to educate and inspire visitors on the facts about this animal, and their arrival to Escot sites the beginning of what will be an exciting campaign and research project.
The six young wolves, Elvis, Sting, Lemmy, Moby and their sisters, PJ and KD, are part of an ongoing research project which began at Tovetorp in Sweden. The research, which will be continued by Wildwood staff, seeks to understand the crucial early stages of wolf domestication when our ancestors first invited these ferocious predators into their homes.
The pack of one-year-olds was hand raised for a scientific research project run at Stockholm University by a team of researches lead by Christina Hansen Wheat.
“We’re so happy to be working with Wildwood,” said Christina. “This is the ideal environment for the wolves. The woodland has everything they need to express a full range of natural behaviour.”
Wildwood CEO Peter Smith said, ‘the goal of the Wildwood Trust is to tell the story of the last thousand years of British wildlife, and this research project covers a vital part of that story. Wolves played an incredibly important role in our history, shaping our own evolution, culture and our landscape. It's a great privilege to have these magnificent animals at our Devon site to help us tell their story.’
Grey wolves were once found all over the Northern Hemisphere. They are the size of an Alsatian, but can blend in very well with their surroundings. The enclosure that Wildwood Escot’s wolf pack will now call home has been designed specially to tend to their natural needs. With copious places to hide, a pond for cooling off in the summer, and natural vegetation, there is plenty of space in this enclosure to meet the needs of this young pack.
Since their arrival Elvis, Moby, Sting, Lemmy and their sisters, PJ and KD have been at the centre of a controversial discussion over the possibility of wolves being reintroduced to the British landscape under a process known as rewilding.
“Grey wolves were a natural part of the British landscape until the late 17th early 18th century when they were hunted to extinction,” Says George Hyde. “At the Wildwood Trust we want to ensure that the conversation about their possible reintroduction continues, that it includes all the necessary stakeholders and is founded on objective research. These wolves will play an invaluable role in that process.”
“Whilst there are no plans to release these wolves into the wild, the Wildwood Trust is nevertheless supportive of the rewilding process and hopes one day Britain can see our uplands and economically unproductive land once more become a natural wilderness with a rich and full ecology, including Apex predators like Lynx, wolf and bear where appropriate.”
Wildwood Escot is not just a wildlife park, but also a unique conservation project that tells the changing story of British wildlife. The Wildwood Trust is working to protect and conserve Britain’s most endangered wildlife and reintroduce animals to where they once lived. The wolves’ arrival is a huge step for the Trust, and they are excited for what the future has to hold.