The clip, shot in a theater in northwestern Xi’an city, was posted on China’s social media platform Weibo last week. It quickly went viral, garnering over 433 million views.
The footage shows a number of wolves coming out of the backstage, leaping down the aisles between audience seats and chasing the performers, as part of the show titled “Tuoling Legend” or “The Legend of Camel Bell”. Wolves and performers act out fight scenes, with a wolf immobilizing an actor at one point.
Wolves do not appear to wear harnesses or leashes. The audience, seated several meters from the stage, used telephones to record the scene.
A representative from the Xi’an branch of Huaxia Cultural Tourism, the company that owns the theater and ran the show, said Tuesday, “These wolves are safe and will not harm people.”
The representative requested anonymity for fear of harassment.
“Wolves have been domesticated for three to four generations,” said the representative. “They have been raised and legally trained by certified professional trainers since 2018 and no accidents have occurred in the past three years.”
The representative said the fight scenes were performed several times and all performers wore protective clothing so as not to be injured. There are also protective nets between the stage and the seats, so wolves cannot reach the audience, the representative added.
The representative said that the scene with the wolves depicts the dangerous journey that China’s ancient camel troops would take to Central Asia for trade and commerce during the Tang Dynasty.