Kim Kortekaas

PhD student, puppy raiser
University Wageningen Universität, Holland
Project at the WSC Using physiological parameters to measure sociality in wolves and dogs
With us since 1.11.2011
Favourite howling Tatonga

My name is Kim Kortekaas and I am the first PhD-student of the WSC. I am particularly interested in social interactions between wolves and dogs and with the help of physiological parameters, such as heart rate, it is possible to measure the reaction of an animal to, for example, other animals or new situations. So, my study tries to see how individual wolfs and dogs are influenced by their relationship to the other animals in the pack by letting them run on what we say is “the biggest treadmill in the world”. We make of use the treadmill because running is a natural activity in which these animals are normally together, think of the cooperative hunting of wolves.

I come from the Netherlands where I studied Biology at the Wageningen University and earned my degree in behavioural ecology. For me it was quite a change to be in Ernstbrunn and to work hands-on with the animals of the WSC. During my master degree I did quite some field work, studying giraffe, and other antelope species in South-Africa, and also studying predatory birds in Cameroon, but I never worked with captive animals before. So, I went from waking up from lion roaring in Africa to wolf howling in Ernstbrunn. Especially, Tatongas’ howl is very special; I am always touched when I hear her. What I like most of my project is the work with the animals; especially the last few months my favourite place to be was the puppy enclosure. Because I am here for a longer time period than most students, I got the opportunity to experience the care and raising of our 6 wolf pups; a dream of a lifetime…