A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the animal experts in this series interact closely with a pack of wolves, often playing, hugging, and nuzzling the animals. Though the humans usually appear at ease with the wolves, the series plays up the ever-present potential for danger. Occasionally the humans do suffer minor injuries (for example, when they feed cubs by mouth), but they're quick to remind viewers that the animals' actions are normal. Young kids may be upset or confused by the wolves' behavior or close shots of them baring their teeth, but families with older kids will learn a lot from this informative series. Even so, be sure to follow up with reminders about never approaching strange animals and rules for interacting with friendly ones.
What's the story?
For years, British wolf expert Shaun Ellis has lived among a pack of wolves at a wildlife park in England to research their behavior and ultimately be accepted as part of their pack. Now the rugged animal lover faces two new challenges: balancing his affection for his wolf "family" with his love for girlfriend Helen Jeffs and successfully integrating her into the pack as well. LIVING WITH THE WOLFMAN follows Shaun and Helen's journey to acceptance by their furry friends, and this unique couple proves they're up to the challenge -- even if it means sacrificing basic creature comforts like soap, learning to speak in growls, and adapting to a meaty diet worthy of their canine friends.
Is it any good?
Living with the Wolfman is unique among wildlife series. Not only do Shaun and Helen study these animals who, despite being bred in captivity, certainly aren't domesticated, but they also actually attempt to coexist with them on the wolves' terms. They're not objective observers, but there's no desire to train the animals; instead, Shaun uses the knowledge he's gleaned from being part of the pack to train Helen to think and act like a wolf. They put the animals in a position of power and adapt every aspect of their lifestyle to suit them.
The show's only real flaw (aside from perhaps giving kids some romanticized notions about wolves) is that it sometimes seems to lack direction, transitioning rather awkwardly between stories of Shaun and Helen's relationship and content about the animals. That aside, families will be inspired by the depth of Shaun and Helen's affection for their furry family members and will gain a new respect for these animals and the intricacies of pack society. It's most appropriate for tweens and up; younger kids will likely be confused and/or frightened by some of the behavior they see from animals and humans alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about wolf behavior. In what ways does the animals' behavior in this series surprise you? How were your impressions of wolves changed by what you saw? Do you think this show gives an accurate view of how these animals behave in the wild? How do you think their human interaction changes them? What measures do Helen and Shaun take to ensure that the wolves' primal instincts aren't affected by their presence? Do you think they do enough in that regard? Why isn't it safe for just anyone to behave the way they do around wolves?
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