If you're considering getting a domestic pet, a wolf probably isn't at the top of your list. But to a man from inner Mongolia in north China, they are more like members of the family.
The bond between Xu Yonggui and his wolves formed 8 years ago. When Xu was around, the generally feared animals were playful and submissive. "I went to a pasture for business years ago, and I found two cubs who were dying with a dead adult wolf nearby. I took them home and fed them with milk," Xu said.
The wolf family has grown to 8 members. Though he's the alpha male of the group, Xu's dominance has sometimes been challenged. A Tibetan mastiff helped him keep the peace in the family. "They're actually friends. Wolves have their own instinctual wisdom. If you treat them well, they'll do the same to you," Xu said.
Xu said there was only one time when a conflict took place between him and the wolves. His wolve ate a dozen of his sheep after slipping out of an unlocked cage years ago. Neighbours have been trying to persuade him to abandon raising them for potential dangers, but Xu has continued to insist on keeping them at home. "I once set one cub free, but it was shot dead in just one week. After a while, they're like family members," Xu said.
Chinese laws allow citizens to raise wolf cubs, but forbid people from using wolves to make profits. Far from making a profit, the cost of raising the big animal family has constantly become more expensive.
Local authorities are planning to build a wild animal sanctuary, which is expected to alleviate some burdens for people like Xu.
Until then, Xu belives his bond with the wolves will only grow stronger. Their chemistry is never more obvious than when Xu summons the pack with his howls.
(Note from Lin: As this is a new story circulating on the net, I hope to find some images to go with this wonderful expose.)