The UK's Paignton Zoo recently welcomed three little Maned Wolf pups to mother wolf Maya and father Smolis. Shy and elusive, Maned Wolves are hard to see in the wild and are often bashful in captivity as well. South America's largest wolf, this species lives in monogamous pairs rather than in packs like other wolf species.
Elusive wolves breed at Paignton Zoo
Paignton Zoo’s elusive South American maned wolves are rearing a litter of three pups.
Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: "The maned wolves may be rarely seen by the public but are no less important for that. There should be a much better chance of seeing one when the pups become more mobile!”
The pups are believed to have been born around 9th December. Keeping staff have let the parents, female Maya male Smolis, get on with the job of rearing the pups.
Volunteer photographer Ray Wiltshire recently managed to snap a few rare shots of pups outside the den.
The last litter was born in December 2006, when four pups were reared. Both adults are eight years old. Male Smolis came from Gdansk Zoo, Poland and female Maya from Berlin Tierpark, Germany. They came to Paignton Zoo in June 2005.
The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is the largest canid of South America. Adults stand almost 1 metre (3 feet) tall at the shoulder and weigh 20 to 25 kg. (50 to 55 lb). They catch small prey such as rodents, hares and birds, but fruit forms a large part of their diet. The mane can be raised to display aggression.
The maned wolf is shy and flees when alarmed. In fact you are more likely to smell them than see them. Their urine, which they use to communicate, has a very distinctive smell. Often described as "a fox on stilts" due to its coloration, it is not closely related to any other canid and may be a survivor from the Pleistocene fauna of large South American mammals.
Found in parts of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia, the maned wolf is an endangered species thanks largely to the effects of man - habitat loss, poaching, roadkill and domestic dogs (which can attack the wolves and spread diseases) are all problems.
Unlike other large canids, the maned wolf does not form packs but lives in monogamous pairs. Gestation lasts 67 days, and a litter may have between 2 and 6 pups. Maned wolves are well represented in captivity and have been bred successfully at a number of zoos. The European Endangered species Programme is coordinated by Frankfurt Zoo in Germany.