Thursday, July 23, 2020

How to visit the maned wolves of Santuário do Caraça in Brazil

Atlas Obscura:
Sitting under the night sky on the steps of this atmospheric neo-Gothic monastery, you may witness the beauty of the maned wolf at extremely close quarters. For those lucky enough to encounter one of these rare creatures, it’s a surreal and unforgettable experience.

The unique relationship between the residents of the Santuário do Caraça monastery and the area’s native maned wolves began in the early 1980s. Monks started to notice that an apparently large and strong animal was habitually raiding the church’s trashcans by tipping them over and dragging out the contents for clandestine midnight feasts.
From a long post that goes into great detail about visiting the monastery:
When it finally made it to the tray (all of about ten steps), it stopped again and looked around. It was acting so sheepishly that I was afraid it would dart for cover any second.

But it didn’t, and eventually, it felt comfortable enough to start gulping meat. Although, it kept walking over to the stairs and listening intently into the night every few minutes.

It stayed for about 10 minutes all up until purposefully walking down the stairs and disappearing into the darkness.

On our second night, there was a school group from Rio staying at the sanctuary, and about a dozen kids stayed up to wait for the wolf. No matter how well-intentioned they were, the kids were unable to stay still and quiet for longer than 5 minutes at a time. After a couple of hours of waiting, I began to doubt our chances of seeing the wolf again.

But at about 7.30 pm the wolf appeared. Even more hesitantly that last night, it approached the meat tray and after grabbing a single mouthful it cowered back down the stairs. We, of course, blamed the kids for their constant chatter and moving about. But we remained on the veranda, hoping that the wolf would come back to finish its food.