#askthecurators Wolf Special

We’ve had a busy week here at Tullie with the start of the Cumbrian summer holidays! Lots of visitors to our What’s in Store: The Curator’s Choice exhibition and lots more questions for our curators via #askthecurator.

Whilst the curators are busy answering some of the other questions we’ve had this week we’ll start off with some questions about one of the most popular items in the exhibition, our very proud grey wolf.


7 visitors have asked questions about our wolf, so thank you to Ella, Aimee, Gemma, Molly, Erin, Nathan and Amy.

Ella and Aimee have both asked “Where did the wolf come from?”

This wolf lived at an animal park here in Cumbria and came to the museum in 2002. There are no wild wolves left in the UK – although there used to be lots of wolves in the UK and particularly in Cumbria. The wolf is not an endangered species though, they are still found in a lot of countries across the world such as Canada, the USA and Russia.

Amy asked “How did the wolf die?”

The wolf died of natural causes in about 2002 – as it lived in captivity this means it was probably quite old.

The museum does not accept any animal specimens which were hunted or killed on purpose.

wolf packErin and Molly both asked “Why do you have a wolf?”

The museum collects all different types of animals, plants and insects for all kinds of reasons.

Museums first started collecting animal species like this wolf for research purposes – often travellers or hunters would find a species that we didn’t know much about and would bring it back for people to study. Some of the older specimens in the collection were collected in this way – but we don’t kill animals just to add to the collection anymore.

Other people might come and ask to see our animals to draw them – lots of animators will base their drawings and computer animations on animals kept in museums because they make very patient models.

The main reason we keep animal specimens though is so that we can show them to the public in exhibitions like this one. It is hard to make people interested or care about animals who need our help if they don’t know about them. By displaying our specimens we can encourage people to learn more about the environment and nature, and who knows they might become vets or zoo keepers or scientists who can help care for the world around us.

wolf howlGemma asked “Why is the poor wolf dead? Why can’t you have an alive one that eats boys?”

Thanks for you question Gemma, unfortunately Health and Safety rules mean that we can’t have a live wolf in the museum, particularly one that has developed a taste for eating boys!

It wouldn’t really be fair to keep a live wolf in the museum, but if you would like to see a live wolf there are a few zoos and animal parks in the UK that keep wolves. Or if you’re heading to Canada or Russia (and lots of other places) you might get to see one in the wild!

Also this one is much better at staying still so that people can have a look 🙂

And Nathan has asked “Can I take the wolf home for Courteney?”

I hope you were thinking of giving the wolf as a gift to Courteney and not to scare her Nathan! Unfortunately, for you, the museum has a strict policy of not letting visitors take objects from the collection home with them. We look after the objects in our collection ‘in trust’, this means we look after the objects on behalf of the government and private collectors so that they might be seen by visitors for many many years.

Thank you all for your wolf questions, here are a few of our favourite wolf facts thrown in for free!

wolf dog

  • The wolf is related to all breeds of domestic dog. It is part of a group of animals called wild dogs which also includes the dingo and the coyote.
  • Wolves can adapt to a number of different environments and have been found to be living in more places in the world than any other mammal, except humans.wolf snow
  • Wolves have two layers of fur, an undercoat and a top coat, which keeps them warm in temperatures as low at minus 40 degrees Celsius! In the summer they shed their fur, like domestic dogs.
  • A wolf’s howl can be heard around 10 miles away, they howl to call other members of their pack to them and mark their territory to keep rival packs out of their area.
  • Most wolves live in packs, but a wolf that lives on its own is known as a lone wolf. They don’t scent mark or howl and live off of very small animals such as rodents due to the fact that they have to hunt on their own.

Posted on July 29, 2015, in Exhibitions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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