Treadmill for Wolves


The WSC, Wolf Science Centre, of the University of Vienna, develops in cooperation with PHYSIO-TECH a special treadmill for the training of wolves.

The Wolf Science Center, located in the game park Ernstbrunn near Vienna, examines the intellectual performance and cooperation capability of wolves and dogs on an experimental basis. For this purpose dogs as well as wolves are hand-raised, exercised daily and deployed in research on eye-level with their human partners. They cohabit in hordes in spacious enclosures, where visitors of the Ernstbrunn game park can observe them.

Wolves are running hunters and pursue their prey for many kilometers. To make an adequate running quota possible for them in their enclosures the engineers at PHYSIO-TECH devised a treadmill especially for the needs of wolves. The treadmill with the size of 2.50 m by 10 m (8.2 ft by 32.8 ft) makes it the world largest treadmill, which for the first time permits wolves living in an enclosure to convey a social hunting experience. On this treadmill the wolves can walk, trot or race up to a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). After completion of a specific running quota a food bag is made accessible to the wolves. Thus the visitors of the Ernstbrunn game park have the unique chance to watch wolves while hunting alone or in packs.

After a short settling-in period on the treadmill the wolves will have learned the correlation of operational performance and food yield. The researchers at the WSC now have the chance to examine the energy costs for a pursuit (by measuring the heartbeat) and furthermore answering a whole set of questions: e.g. how wolves organize their social hunting, whether engagement in hunting has an effect on their social status and let them have a part of the prey.

With this treadmill for wolves the WSC under the direction of Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal enters scientifically unknown territory. This does not only apply to the quality of animal husbandry but also with regard to the exploration of the wolves.

More info about WSC