Two female wolves kept at a sanctuary in the countryside of North Bedfordshire are helping to keep the wild wolf population alive in Bulgaria.
Wolves haven’t roved wild in the UK since the 1400s but elsewhere the dog-like creatures are still running free.
The Anglian Wolf Society works to educate people about these often feared animals and supports a conservation project abroad.
Director of the society Caroline Elliott said: “The biggest myth is that wolves will attack human beings at random. They are born terrified of humans and their default is to run.
“They are incredibly gentle, family orientated animals.”
Sisters Aiyana and Kaya, both aged nine, live at the sanctuary where they were born and were human socialised from birth, which involved volunteers spending day and night with them in the early days of their lives.
“The fear is passed through generation after generation, even wolves born in captivity to socialised parents,” said Caroline, who is an account manager by day.
The volunteer-run sanctuary has been running for 14 years and was initially set up to give surplus zoo animals a home. It also works hard to dispel myths about wolves which are often viewed negatively due to the way they are portrayed on television programmes and in films.
Caroline said: “We have had a lot of success with school parties coming here.”
In the UK, wolves were persecuted out of fear and to protect livestock for the hunters.
In Bulgaria, the sanctuary helps to fund guard dogs so that farmers are not worried about their animals and therefore do not need to hunt wolves.
“Fortunately there are still a lot of countries out there that have this magical wilderness and I think it is important that we help them,” said Caroline.
“I think if we have animals in captivity you should be doing something for the bigger picture.”
There are just two females left at the sanctuary now after two males passed away last year leaving the dedicated volunteers heartbroken.
The public will get a chance to find out about these rare animals during an open day at the sanctuary on Sunday, August 2. Visiting times are 10am to 1pm and 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Entry is by ticket only and numbers are limited. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for children aged seven to 16. Youngsters aged under seven are not permitted on the site. To book call 0844 414 2120.
Other attractions on the day will include Norman the golden eagle, who hit the headlines last year when he went missing in Bedford. Teaching Talons will be bringing along African snails, millipedes, snakes and rabbits to show, The Friends of the Raptor Foundation will be showing some of their owls and the Bedfordshire Bat Group will be there.