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)