Close encounters: the Thompson Wolf Park
Interacting with other animal species is critical to human happiness, self-discovery, and an understanding of the broader natural world. Despite these benefits, wild animals have been pushed to the periphery of human existence. The resultant lack of animal contact has adverse affects on humankind’s relationship with the natural world. Close Encounters: The Thompson Wolf Park is a design practicum that sets out to change this. This work includes a detailed review of the landscapes that humans have created to facilitate encounters with animals. The evolution of such landscapes has ultimately resulted in the development of the modern zoo. A critique of zoos is undertaken, with particular emphasis on conservation, ecotourism, exhibit design, and educational and recreational aspects. This work then explores ways to change the form and function of zoos to alter people’s perceptions of nature. A set of design goals is developed for an alternative type of zoo and applied to a real-world wolf park project in Thompson, Manitoba. A study of grey wolves is undertaken to further inform the design. The Thompson Wolf Park is a zoological institution that is intended to excel where its reactive predecessors have faltered, namely in instigating changes in the visitor’s ecological behaviour. By seeing grey wolves in their natural environment visitors will have a restorative, educational, and more holistic nature experience than at the traditional zoo, and be inspired to protect the natural world.