So the great jumping wolf was really Ossian from a zoo near Madrid

On a previous blog (22 October 2009) I wrote about the amazing Jumping Wolf photograph that won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009 competition. I was inspired and thrilled by this shot of a wild animal in full chase.

I wrote at the time: “No matter who the unfortunate victim, whether it is Bambi or, preferably, one, if not all of those awful kids’ show characters, The Teletubbies, you have to admire this perfectly poised moment of blood lust which is also a celebration of life”.

Sadly it has just been announced that the photograph has been disqualified by the judges and Mr Jose Luis Rodriguez has been stripped of his title, the photograph has been removed from the exhibition and the photographer has been banned from ever entering the competition again.

Boo-hoo-hoo – there goes my favourite photograph of last year with its magnificent and joyful sense of the call of the wild and Nature’s impressive design for a lethal hunting machine.

Hang on a minute. So OK this particular wolf was probably an animal called Ossian who lives in a zoo park near Madrid in Spain and the photograph was thus probably fixed to create that inspirational effect. I can see why the judges were annoyed but as for me, I still love the photograph and really don’t care how it was created. If it moves me then it moves me – full stop. The wolf is a wolf and it is jumping over a gate – that is good enough for me to enjoy looking at this photograph for many years to come.

There is an added irony in the fact that the wolf is called Ossian. Named after the ” great” but actually invented ancient bardic poet Ossian who inspired a generation of Romantic artists including Goethe, Walter Scott and Schubert. The works of Ossian published in 1765 were a sensation in their day with their wild romances about the lives of ancient Britons, especially the heroic Fingal. They were in fact written by a canny 18th. Century Scots poet called James Macpherson who pretended to have discovered them on ancient manuscripts and who then published them in similar circumstances as Mr. Rodrigues appears to have done today.

I always had a sneaking admiration for James Macpherson and thought all the more of those creaky poems knowing that there was more than just an element of pulling the wool about them.
They are no worse than the complete works of JRR Tolkien after all and would surely make a fine set of very long films directed by that obsessive Australian film director Peter Jackson. James Macpherson was born in the wrong era – he would have been a natural in Hollywood just as Mr Rodrigues too is living in the wrong time now when television, the BBC in particular who have a stake in the Wildlife Photograph of the Year Competition, is petrified of anyone ever thinking that the camera can lie. I like to think also that Mr Rodrigues did it for art rather than the large amount of prize money that came with the award.

Even if I am closing my eyes to the obvious answer to that question, I still love the wolf….maybe even more so now that I know that I could go and visit Ossian at that zoo near Madrid. I wonder if I could stroke his nose. Ossian is, after all, my brother.

My thanks to Will for sending me a replacement photograph – he says these wolves are definitely not fakes…they are fantastic I think.


  1. The difference is two separate countries, two separate cultures. The difference is the man could have pride in his country, his history, his ancestry, so get it right if you are going to be a smartass about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.