A marvellous menagerie as National Museum Wales opens new gallery The Wolf Inside

By Culture24 Reporter | 10 October 2012
A photo of a large group of people with domestic pets on the steps outside a museum
Visitors to National Museum Wales are about to discover the wild side of their pets© National Museum Wales
Hot on the shaggy heels of The Manchester Museum's new excursion through the colourful history of dogs in Britain, National Museum Cardiff's inspiring natural history gallery is revealing why our domestic best friends have more in common with wolves than your average homeowner might have thought.

Rather than regarding dogs as species in their own right, scientists are apparently now treating dogs as a subspecies of the wolf, a result of two centuries of domestication changing the main aim dog breeding from one based on temperament to one based on looks.

Hounds might have been the first to have been domesticated, but the effects are far-reaching in the 21st century, attested to by around 1,000 different creeds of sheep.

Chickens are more recent enlistees, and skulls and stuffed versions of pigs and goats, as well as complete horse and cow skeletons, will illustrate how breeders are trying to improve, for example, milk yields, or the immune systems and amount of wool grown by their animals.

“In today's world, we take animal domestication for granted,” says the museum’s Pete Howlett. “But domestication has been vital to the evolution of human society. Without it, we would not have the food security we now enjoy, nor would we have the pleasure that pets bring to millions.

“It is a fascinating subject and we think our visitors will be able to relate to this display and will very much enjoy it. It’s a chance to answer some of those tricky questions about animals and pets.”

Half-term week, at the end of October, features a series of family workshops – Tame Tigers and Well-behaved Wolves – looking at the wilder side of pet dogs and cats.

  • The Wolf Inside opens at National Museum Cardiff on October 13 2012. Follow the museum on Twitter @Museum_Cardiff.

More pictures:

A photo of a large black dog staring into the camera with his owner in the background
Compare...© National Museum Wales
An overhead photo of an Arctic wolf with yellow eyes standing on snow
...and contrast?© National Museum Wales
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