Thursday, 29 June 2017

Human reared wolves found to display signs of attachment and affection towards foster-parents




June 28, 2017 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers affiliated with Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences in Hungary has found that wolves hand-reared by adoptive humans grow to show signs of attachment and affection towards their human foster parents. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the researchers describe how they asked a group of volunteers to hand raise wolf puppies and then tested them to see how attached they became. 

It has been long believed by animal scientists that wolves cannot be socialized with humans—they are simply too wild. Still, the relationship continues to be studied as researchers seek to better understand the circumstances that led to the domestication of dogs—which, it might be noted, are not descendants of wolves. In this new effort, the goal was to find out if wolves raised like family pets would become attached to humans, and if so, in what ways.

The study consisted of asking volunteers with the Family Dog Project to raise wolf puppies and to treat them just as they would dog puppies. In such an environment, the wolf puppies would be intensely socialized with their human families. As the wolf pups reached certain age milestones, the researchers visited the wolves and their foster families and conducted socialization tests to measure how attached the pups were to the humans with which they lived. In this study, they measured greetings displayed by the wolves to four different types of human visitors—those that raised them, those that were around a lot, people they had met just once and people they had never met—at three age points, 6, 12, and 24 months. In the first of the experiments, the pups were exposed to the humans while among other wolves, giving them a security blanket of sorts. In the second, the pups were forced to go it alone.

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