The Houston Zoo is proud to announce the births of two rare Maned Wolf pups. Born December 30, the pups are being hand reared at the Houston Zoo's Denton Cooley Animal Hospital. "This is the first successful birth of Maned Wolves at the Houston Zoo in over 10 years," said Houston Zoo Curator of Carnivores and Primates Hollie Colahan. "The pups weigh just over 5 pounds now and are being cared for around the clock by Zoo carnivore and animal hospital staff," added Colahan. The pups are fed 6 times each day and were just introduced to solid food last week. Maned Wolves are not closely related with any other living Canid (wolf, dog or fox) and one study suggests that they may be the sole South American surivivor of the mass extinction of large Canids at the end of the last ice age.
Maned Wolves are native to the grasslands, savannahs and tall grass prairies of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. The species once thrived and ranged throughout much of South America.Unlike other wolves that live in cooperative breeding packs, Maned Wolves are solitary animals. Little is known about their lives in the wild where their populations are increasingly threatened by habitat loss to agriculture.
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There are less than 100 Maned Wolves living in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Only 17 Maned Wolf pups were born in 2009. Studies are in place to understand why Maned Wolves breed poorly. Information collected from zoo-maintained Maned Wolves will be used to begin thorough studies of wild populations to address the species most pressing needs in its native range. Learn more about the pups on the Houston Zoo's blog!