RESEARCH AT WOLF PARK
Wolf Park participates primarily in behavioral research, including cognitive research. The fact that the wolves are hand-raised helps considerably, as this allows and encourages them to exhibit their full range of behavior in front of researchers (and visitors, too!). Wild wolves are generally very difficult to observe for any length of time, as they tend to run away once they become aware of the presence of humans.
Past research projects have included investigations into howling, scent rolling, reproductive behavior, aggression, rank order, human interaction time lengths, pointing, opening apparatuses and feeding patterns.
We currently have wolves, coyotes and foxes that are socialized. We also have bison, which are not socialized, but have participated in research. Not all of our animals are able to participate in all types of research. While we have been very successful in getting our animals to participate, we cannot guarantee participation.
Interactive Research. Interactive research involves any physical activity with the wolves, either by researchers or by Wolf Park staff. In order for any visitor to enter the wolf enclosures, they must go through our safety training presentation and be cleared for enclosure entry. All visitors that enter the animal enclosures must be accompanied by two trained staff members (one trained staff member for the foxes). Researchers are not required to enter our enclosures. In many situations, it is ideal for our staff to conduct the experiments or set up apparatuses due to their relationships with our animals.
Observational Research. Researchers observing our wolves must be accompanied by a docent at all times. Two types of docents are available: Docents and Wolf Expert Docents.
Docents are usually Wolf Park Interns or Volunteers. Docents have a basic understanding of our animals and their behaviors, but are not always able to answer in-depth questions. The role a Docent is to accompany you, not to field questions.
Wolf Expert Docents are our animal curator staff members, who have years of experience working with wolves and are amongst the top wolf experts in their field. Narration can be provided by Wolf Expert Docents, and they are able to field any questions you may have. Wolf Expert Docents are also ideal for researchers that can conduct their experiments through the fence, such as experiments on howl time duration.
Sample Collection. Wolf Park is able to collect and ship blood samples, fecal samples and fur samples. Pricing is varied based on the extent of activity required, such as requiring our animals to consume a special diet. Please contact us to enquire about other types of sample collection.
All researchers must submit a Research Proposal to Wolf Park, which will be reviewed by our Research Committee. This may be many pages long for cognitive experiments, or just a paragraph if you have a class of university school students that want to observe feedings. The write-up should include an overview of you project, goals, what you would like to do with the animals (if anything). Individual researchers, research teams and classes interested in conducting research at Wolf Park should email their proposals to [email protected] or call 765-567-2265 for more information.
Grants. Wolf Park has a limited amount of grant funds available for visiting researchers and school groups. Researchers are highly encouraged to apply. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information. Include a copy of your proposal.
Wolf Park’s Research Program goals are to learn more about our animals. We do not test drugs on our animals or allow any research that may cause physical or mental harm.
Click here to see some of the fascinating things we have discovered here at Wolf Park!