AboutZoos, Since 2008


Bears attack wolf — fatal enrich­ment at Dieren­rijk Zoo (NL)?

pub­lished 02 Novem­ber 2018 | mod­i­fied 02 Novem­ber 2018

On 30 Octo­ber 2018 bears attacked one of the wolves with whom they share their enclo­sure at Dieren­rijk in the Nether­lands. The two species sup­pose to enrich each other’s lives by inter­act­ing, but this was a level of inter­act­ing too much! It is not clear why the bears sud­denly attacked the wolf. Accord­ing to Dieren­rijk offi­cials the wolf acci­den­tally got in the water while rough-​housing with its mates, when the wolf got out of the water it was vio­lently attacked by the bears — until death followed.

Footage of the inci­dent [beware: can be expe­ri­enced as shocking]

Could this have hap­pened in the wild I won­dered? When ani­mals are kept in rel­a­tively small con­fined areas — which most enclo­sures of zoo­log­i­cal facil­i­ties are, and the bear-​wolf exhibit at Dieren­rijk is no excep­tion — the fre­quency of the encoun­ters between the species is much higher than in the wild. More­over, in the wild there’s more space to get out of each other’s way — a wolf would never let itself be cor­nered by bears. So, is it the lim­ited size of the exhibit and the aggra­vated annoy­ance already caused, with the wet wolf climb­ing out of the water being the last straw?

This is very sad. We see this as an inci­dent, because the bears and the wolves have been liv­ing together in har­mony for a long time,“ said a zoo’s spokesman when com­ment­ing on the dev­as­tat­ing inci­dent. Bear and wolf experts refer to the inci­dent as an unfor­tu­nate and extra­or­di­nary event which is not caused by keep­ing the species together. In many zoos world­wide bears and wolves are suc­cess­fully kept together to pro­vide them with a chal­lenge, enrich­ing their envi­ron­ment. It is impor­tant, though, that the enclo­sure is large and other distractions/​enrichment is pro­vided as well.

(Source: Eind­hoven News, 30.10.2018; Dieren­rijk face­book page; Omroep Bra­bant, 30.10.2018 and 31.10.2018)

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