Two re-posts today from more than a year ago, as the "A Man Among Wolves" series is back on TV with a new load of dreck to amaze small children.
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Here's what National Geographic does not tell you about Shaun Ellis and "A Man Among Wolves" premiering on television tonight:
- The whole thing was shot in a less-than two acre cage in a 25-acre theme park in Devon, England. The main attraction of the theme park is animated dinosaurs.
- Shaun Ellis is not a scientist of any kind. He is not a biologist, nor is he a trained animal behaviorist. He is not even an accredited zoo keeper.
- The wolves are not wild - they are put on daily viewing for the public, where Shaun's main theme-park job is putting on a "daily howling exhibit."
- Wolves are raised up by humans all the time. It is a stupid thing to do, but a lot of stupid things are done all the time. Just as you can buy a baby cougar or baby black bear in this country, you can also buy a baby wolf (legal or not). All it takes is a little bit of money and no common sense at all.
- The wolves are doomed to captivity and will never be released into the wild. The reason? They have been acclimated to humans. A human-acclimated wolf is a dead wolf in every country in the world unless it is kept in a cage. The best these wolves can hope for is to be placed in a larger cage and far from Shaun Ellis.
- Shaun Ellis has nothing to teach a wolf. He cannot teach them how to hunt, he cannot teach them how to have sex, and he cannot teach them how to seriously fight among themselves. Think about it. Ellis is too slow to chase down a rabbit. More to the point, the wolves do not have near enough room to run down a deer or elk on their own (not that there are any elk in the U.K.). So what does Ellis "teach" the wolves to do instead? He teaches them to ... wait for it ... fish with a few mackeral and trout he steals from the seal exhibit next door. Oh goodie! Talk about Through the Looking Glass.
- The idea of raising wolves in a cage in not even original. Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with wolves in a 15-acre cage for three years, and not only filmed the whole thing and put in on the Discovery channel, they produced a companion book as well. After the filming was finished, those wolves were moved to another large cage in Idaho (not to the wild), where they continue to live to this day.
- Real wolf experts exist, and so too do experts at releasing wolves into the wild. In fact, less than a day's drive from National Geographic's main office in Washington, D.C. can be found the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge where once-captive red wolves were successfully re-introduced into a marshy wilderness. As for howling, it is innate and instinctive with wolves and coyotes, and both wolves and coyotes will readily respond to almost any human howling at dusk, as park rangers routinely demonstrate with truely wild wolves in the Alligator.
In the end of watching "A Man Among Wolves," we are left with only one important question: What moron agreed to put this dreck on TV and make a laughing stock of the valuable National Geographic brand?