Mission, Vision & Goals

Where it's at?

Mission

At the Wolf Science Center we conduct internationally recognised, first-class research on the behaviour and cognition of wolves and dogs, as well as of the interspecific relationships we share with them as humans.

The graphic illustrates the three goals of the WSC: science, education and good animal keeping
The main goals of the Wolf Science Center

Our working practices are based on the understanding that animals are our partners, and are deserving of respectful handling and state-of-the-art keeping. We also aim to provide science-based information to the public in order to advance the cohabitation of wolves, dogs and humans worldwide, for the benefit of all parties.

Vision

Our research and other activities shall contribute to the propagation of a society in which decision making is well informed. Based on scientific knowledge of animals' behavioural needs and of their cognitive and emotional capabilities, such decisions would be founded on an intrinsic respect for animals as partners in research. Our scientific contribution explores wolves, dogs, and their long-standing relationship with humans, and will directly contribute to this pool of knowledge, thereby helping to develop a more adequate and respectful attitude towards these animals. In a better world for wolves, humans and dogs, this understanding will support the well-being as well as protecting of canines in the wild and in human custody. 

Goals

The WSC as a research institution aims to:  

  • Host comparative scientific research on wolf and dog cognition, behaviour and sociality, focussing primarily on the proximate, bio-psychological mechanisms involved in behavioural decision making.  
  • Strive for scientific excellence in the conceptual and methodical development of our projects, and in publishing our results in acknowledged, international peer-reviewed journals. Accordingly, WSC science is mainly funded by competitive research grants.  
  • Provide training and research opportunities in scientific theory and practice for international colleagues in various stages of their academic career (ranging from practicum students and interns, through masters and PhD students to postdocs). This includes access to unique research facilities, the opportunity to work with wolves and dogs that are raised, kept and trained for scientific purposes alongside professional scientific and animal training personnel, inclusion in both the WSC team and the broader international research environments of the University of Vienna and the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

The WSC, as an institution, is dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge to an interested public and to specialists by:  

  • Offering internships and practica for volunteers of various backgrounds, to the mutual benefit of both the trainees and the institution.  
  • Featuring special courses at the interface of behavioural science and its practical applications (management coaching, courses for dog and animal trainers, etc.)  
  • Educating an interested public about wolves, dogs and their relationships with humans via guided tours and a variety of other programs for visitors.   
  • Offering scientific information in a publicly understandable language on its posters presented in the Wildpark Ernstbrunn, on its website and other written materials (magazine articles, books, etc.).  
  • Cooperating with media who wish to publish integrated information that is based on the outcome of research about the biology, behaviour, cognition and relationships with humans, of wolves and dogs, or who seek expert opinion on wolves, dogs and their relationships with people. 

The WSC as a wolf and dog keeping facility:   

  • Aims to optimise the keeping of wolves and dogs, not only in the sense of taking care of their basic needs, but also by acknowledging and integrating their species-specific and individual cognitive and social reaction norms. This includes provision of adequate housing and food, regular training and collaboration in experimental paradigms on an exclusively voluntarily basis, a basis of positive motivation, and in particular, adequate raising to shape our animals into partners who collaborate with us on as much the same level as is possible, free of fear and other negative effects.  
  • Develops tools and routines to provide mental, physical and social enrichment that can be adopted by other animal-keeping facilities.  
  • Advises other animal-keeping facilities with regard to socialization, handling and training of dogs and wolves.