One of the most popular tourist attractions in Creuse, our departément, is the wolf park at Guéret – les Loups de Chabriere. I once read an article about the park that worryingly described it as a place where wolves roamed in semi-captivity! I assure you, they are in full captivity i.e. they stay in their very large, very well fenced off enclosures.
We have been several times, and went again the other day with visiting relatives. This was our best visit yet. We got up close and personal with them, as you can see from the photos. It was fantastic! We were there for feeding time, and at one point, the wolves in another enclosure began howling. It was a scary sound. I can see why people got so freaked by these animals in the past.
The park is open from Easter to Toussaint (1 Nov). There are several different types of wolves – Grey European, Canadian and Arctic wolves – and some more approachable animals, such as goats, rabbits, pot-belly pigs and sheep. The permanent exhibition has lots of information about wolves, in English as well as French, and is well laid out and presented. It makes for a very pleasant half-day visit.
There are wild wolves in France, around 200, but much further south, in and around the Pyrenées. They are thought to have moved into France from Italy. Environmentalists want to protect them, but local shepherds aren’t so keen on the idea. However, if sheep are properly protected then wolves won’t take them.
More controversial is the scheme to release Slovakian brown bears in the Pyrenées. There are currently 20, but no more will be introduced unless any die ‘accidentally’. A few bears have been found dead in suspicious circumstances. It seems that having wolves and bears on their doorstep has been a bit much for some Pyreneans.