UN CONTRÔLE SÉVÈRE
Pour garder des loups en captivité, il faut un certificat d’attestation et respecter certaines règles, dont la limitation des naissances, les vaccinations et le tatouage de chaque bête.
Parc à loups du Gévaudan
Les Loups du Gévaudan
Les Loups du Gévaudan is a wolf park located in Sainte-Lucie, in France’s Lozère department, a landscape of hills, valleys and forest. In this still wild natural setting, Gérard Ménatory, great champion of wolves, chose to set up an animal park that would host, in partial freedom, wolves that could never return to the wild. In 1985, the year the park was created, 26 wolves made their home here. Their numbers increased considerably after the Brigitte Bardot Foundation entrusted the park with the care of 80 Mongolian wolves rescued from being poached for their fur.
Today, the park is home to over 130 wolves from five sub-species: Polish, Canadian, Arctic Canadian, Siberian and Mongolian. The wolves are all descendents of captive animals from European zoos and animal parks. Some are also descended from the wolves rescued by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.
Remaking the wolf’s image
Gérard Ménatory’s aim in creating Les Loups du Gévaudan was to remake the image of the wolf in the collective consciousness. For him, this elusive and fascinating creature is worlds away from the gruesome legends often told about it. The Lozère department, formerly known as Le Gévaudan, was the scene of a terrifying event in the mid-18th century, when a creature dubbed the “Beast of Gévaudan” brutally attacked and killed many local shepherds and children. While mystery still surrounds the beast’s true identity, Gérard Ménatory always maintained the theory that this frightening creature was in fact a hyena raised by humans. According to him, wolves are too afraid of people to attack in such a brutal and repetitive way.
Today, the park continues its work to raise public awareness of the wolf. After Gérard Ménatory died in 1998, Sylvain Macchi took over as the park’s head caretaker. This major wolf enthusiast has trodden many of the remote territories where this mysterious creature roams. While Macchi looks after the welfare of his charges and studies their pack habits, he’s especially trying to rebuild bridges between environmentalists in favour of the wolf’s return to France and the shepherds opposed. In particular, he offers solutions to help shepherds, livestock and wolves coexist in peace.
By the late 1930s, the wolf had been completely eradicated from France, but began to return in the wild from Italy in 1992, causing considerable controversy. The wolf can now be found in several French departments, where it is protected by the Bern Convention, adopted by most European countries in 1979.