A young woman who feeds morsels of meat to wolves from between her teeth has become China’s latest online celebrity.
Zhou Xinyue, 20, cares for eight wolves at an eco-tourism destination in Inner Mongolia’s Chifeng city.
The animals will eventually be available for film and television appearances, as well as tourist photographs, but for now the project is still under development, according to Beijing Youth Daily.
Zhou’s daily routine includes chopping up all kinds of meat, from chicken to lamb and lamb giblets, which she then feeds to the wolves in a designated hill area.
“It takes about an hour to feed them each time,” Zhou said.
“Sometimes they can be naughty, so I have to hit them while feeding. They don’t attack me, but sometimes their sharp claws can scratch me. It is totally unintentional,” she told the Daily.
Allowing a wolf to take a piece of meat from her own mouth occasionally helps to build an emotional link between herself and the animals, she said.
Last week a video of Zhou in Mongolian dress feeding the wolves with her mouth attracted plenty of interest among China’s online community, although her little-known job also sparked controversy over the legitimacy of raising the wildlife as well as safety concerns.
In an interview with the Daily, Zhou said the wolves had all been bought from a breeding centre in northeast China and receive regular vaccine injections and treatment against parasites.
She added that the wolves are kept in pens and fed twice a day, each eating a total of more than 10kg of meat per day.
Zhou is no stranger to wolves, having worked as a breeder of the animals for the past four years. She previously raised four other wolves at her uncle’s home in Fushun, Liaoning province in northeast China.
She was formally employed at the eco-tourism destination in November, where she makes less than 3,000 yuan (US$435) a month. But it’s not about the money for Zhou, who said she enjoys being with the wolves.
“I liked canines when I was little. My family raised a few dogs, and when I visited my uncle and met the wolves, I felt like communicating with them very much,” she said.