10 Stunning Photographs Of Wolves And The Man Who Lives Among Them

Werner Freund, 79, has devoted the last 40 years of his life to wolves. To learn more about them and defeat the stigmas surrounding them, he became part of their pack.

Lisi Niesner / Reuters

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In 1972, Werner Freund established Wolfspark Werner Freund, a 25-acre sanctuary in Germany for wolves acquired from animal parks and zoos. Forty years later, the researcher is 79 years old and behaves as the alpha male of the pack of 29 wolves, who were mostly hand-reared.

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Lisi Niesner / Reuters

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But the wolves aren’t his pets. “You can’t domesticate a wolf,” Freund says. “I had to become a wolf.”

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“I had to re-educate my voice as my German dialect sounds quite hard, but the wolves are used to gentle noises.”

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“I battle to strip away the myth of the ‘dangerous wolf.’ Look, dogs around the world kill plenty of people a year and bite millions more. Dogs have lost their fear of humans, the wolf hasn’t. I only get close to them because they know me; a stranger couldn’t do what I do.”

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Werner Freund, his wife Erika, and their cat Max sit in the living room of their home near Wolfspark Werner Freund.

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“Fairy tales, that’s what gave them a bad name. Red Riding Hood and all that. These are beautiful animals and the person who says they shouldn’t be in the wild might as well not care about what happens to the elephant on the plains of Africa. We are all enriched by their presence, by the simple fact that they are among us.”

—Werner Freund, via The Telegraph

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