A litter of Mexican Gray Wolves, the most Endangered wolf species in the world, came to the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden -- and not by conventional means. They arrived on a LightHawk* flight at Tri-State Aero, Inc. and were immediately given into the care of zoo staff. The pups are doing well.
Born on May 8 at the Wolf Conservation Center in New York, the pups were pulled within hours of their birth with the goal of being in the care of the Mesker Park Zoo within 24 hours. There they have experienced Wolf parents standing by. The plan is for the pups to be partially hand reared and then, within a few months, be fostered by the resident Wolf parents. This is considered their best chance for surviving and contributing to the genetics of this Endangered species.
Although their genetically important birth mother was successful with one litter in her lifetime, her other litters have been totally lost or large portions of her litters lost within the first few weeks of life. The reasons behind these deaths are not known, so the arriving litter is considered fragile by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Mesker staff. The decision was made to pull any pups she produced this year and foster them via an experienced pair was reached in July by the USFWS and the Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan in consultation with Dr. Susan Lyndaker Lindsey, Animal Curator at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden and Behavioral and Husbandry Advisor to the USFWS Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program and the Species Survival Plan.
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Selection of the initial wolf parents for Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden was based upon the need for an experienced pair of wolves and the unique conservation contribution that Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden could offer to the future of this critically Endangered wolf. The male Wolf, Nagual, was born on May 4, 2005 at Wild Canid Survival and Research Center in MO. On May 22, 2009, he was transferred to a USFWS Sevilleta Wolf Management Center, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, NM. Dr. Lindsey fostered two orphan wild born pups to this male later that year. The female was born on April 22, 2007 at the California Wolf Center near Julian, CA. She was transferred to the USFWS Sevilleta Wolf Management Center, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, NM on Nov. 23, 2009 and later placed with Nagual.
This pair had pups in 2010 and 2011 and raised them all successfully in a large pack. They have proven to be excellent parents.
There are only approximately 300 Mexican Gray Wolves in captivity and 60 to 70 in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. These wolves have also been recently released in Mexico.
*LightHawk provides donated flights for conservation related organizations and others working on natural resource issues. All flights are arranged through the generosity of LightHawk volunteer pilots. For more information about this nonprofit and unique group of conservationists visit: www.LightHawk.org.