Thursday, May 04, 2017

Gérard Ménatory, and a life after Mauthuasen

1. Gérard Ménatory talks to some of the wolf pack
Le parc à loups du Gévaudan (July 1988)]
2. Gérard Ménatory feeding a 'friendly' wolf
[Le parc à loups du Gévaudan (July 1988)]
During WW2, Gérard Ménatory (1921 - 1998) was a member of the French Resistance, captured by the Germans in 1944 and deported to Mauthausen concentration camp. Although he was extremely emaciated when liberated from the concentration camp in 1945 he went on to make a good recovery and had an active and fulfilling life before his passing in 1998.

After the war Gérard Ménatory went on to become a journalist with the 'Midi Libre' newspaper. As a naturalist he founded the Gévaudan Wolf Park (in French. 'Le parc à loups du Gévaudan') located at Sainte Lucie, near the town of Marvejols in the Lozère department of southern France. The photographs seen above show Gérard Ménatory feeding some of the 'friendly' semi-wild wolves at the park in July 1988.

Today, there are more than 100 semi-wild wolves living and thriving in the park. The long term survival of these much maligned animals is a fine legacy for Gérard Ménatory to have left the world.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Gérard Ménatory A brief biography

Gérard Ménatory was born at Alès in the French department of Gard on 3 December 1921. During the Second World War, after southern France was occupied by the Germans in 1942, like many young men of those years Gérard Ménatory joined the French Resistance, taking the 'non de guerre' of "Tito". He was one of a group of eleven young men, 'réfractaires', who took to the Cevennes mountains, eager to enter into combat with the enemy occupiers at the earliest opportunity even though they had few weapons, provisions and were continually on the move. Their survival was due in no small part to the support of the friendly French civilian population of the district, especially with provisions of food, drink and shelter.

However, in 1944 several of the group, including Gérard Ménatory ("Tito") was arrested and deported to a sub-camp of Mauthausen concentration camp' labelled as a 'dangerous resistant'. Despite being almost worked to death in the camp, Gérard Ménatory managed to survive until the liberation of Mauthausen and its sub-camps by the Americans on 6 May 1945. At this time Gérard Ménatory, who was 1 m 70 cms (5 ft 6 ins) tall, weighed a mere 35 Kgs (77 lbs or 5 stone 7 pounds).

As well as becoming a journalist with the 'Midi Libre' newspaper after the war Gérard Ménatory became increasingly well known for his active campaigning for animal welfare, firstly in his French homeland and eventually worldwide. In particular, he became one of the foremost wildlife experts on the wolf and in July 1988, I was privileged to get an invitation from Gérard Ménatory to be shown round the Gévaudan Wolf Park and accompany him to see some of the wolves close up at feeding time (see photographs above).

Having settled in the French department of Lozère (the former traditional county of Gévaudan) Gérard Ménatory took a special interest in the true legend of the "Beast of Gévaudan" ('La Bête du Gévaudan') a supposed wolf-like monster which terrorised the district between 1764 and 1767. Yet, according to Gérard Ménatory this 'Beast' would not have been a wolf as indicated by all surviving evidence.

Hence, between 1959 and 1962, Gérard Ménatory created a small Wolf Park near Sainte Lucie on the outskirts of Marvejols. In 1985, the park opened to visitors and by 1988 there were about 80 wolves living semi-wild in the park. The Gévaudan Wolf Park has become well known throughout the world. In 1991 in a collaboration with the Brigitte Bardot Foundation a number of Mongolian wolves were saved and found a new home at Sante Lucie. The former French actress Brigitte Bardot was a personal friend of Gérard Ménatory because of a shared campaigning zeal for wildlife and animal rights.

Gérard Ménatory died at Mende, the capital of the Lozère department on 5 August 1998, aged 76. Having survived Mauthausen he was able to overcome those terrible times of war and killing to create a legacy of international importance with the Gévaudan Wolf Park. It was an honour to have met him and listen to his passion for wildlife and especially the much-maligned European wolf.

Thursday, 04 May, 2017  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further information

Click on the following link to access the French language website of the Gévaudan Wolf Park (Les Loups du Gévaudan):
Les Loups du Gévaudan

Click on the following link to see some historical film footage from the United States Holocaust memorial Museum about the liberation of Mauthausen in May 1945 (contains some harrowing scenes):
Liberation of Mauthausen

Thursday, 04 May, 2017  

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