Walking with wolves : an ethnographic investigation into the relationship between socialised wolves and humans.

Williams, Bridget. (2012) Walking with wolves : an ethnographic investigation into the relationship between socialised wolves and humans. Masters thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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Wolves have held a fascination, fear and or revulsion for humankind throughout history. At the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, a charity whose main aim in to educate the public about wolves, socialised wolves interact with volunteers and with members of the general public. Could a dangerous carnivorous prey non-human species elicit human attachment and symptoms of attachment such as anthropomorphic terminology? A short term ethnographic study investigating the relationship between socialised wolves and human volunteers was carried out, utilising the techniques of participant observation, questionnaires and semi structured interview techniques. Twenty four questionnaires were voluntarily completed, answering questions relating to guardianship of current and previous companion animals, reasons for volunteering, favourite wolf and importance of recognition and interaction with the favourite wolf. From these questionnaires eight volunteers offered themselves for interview. Utilising the theory of multispecies ethnography; within the enclosures when completely free of human restraint, the wolves took the role of participant observers of the human volunteers, deciding whom they would allow into an extended pack circle by challenging them behaviourally as if they were wolves, whilst at the same time restricting some wolf interactions suggesting knowledge of self-identity. Inside of the enclosures the wolves had more control over human wolf interaction. Outside of the enclosures the wolves relegated some of this power back to the volunteers. Volunteers’ attributed their fascination and attachment for wolves due to them representing ‘the raw nature of dogs’, admiration of their family social structure, as a representation of a persecuted ‘keystone’ species or an unidentified ‘spiritual’ link. Whilst anthropomorphic tendencies were evident in all aspects of wolf handling, experienced volunteers were aware of the dangers which anthropomorphism could cause whilst handling an ‘untrained and untamed’ non-human species. Experienced volunteers either tried to think and behave like a wolf as far as possible or treated wolves like human adults rather than human juveniles.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations;10412/251.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wolves, Human-wolf interaction, Attachment, Anthropromorphism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Related URLs:
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2014 17:35
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2023 14:42
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/362

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