ZooTampa at Lowry Park visitors may now be able to see a litter of new Red Wolf puppies, which are the most critically endangered Wolf species in the world!
The successful birth of four Red Wolf pups is an important addition to the populations of this rare Florida species, and they are the first Red Wolf births at the zoo since 1993.
Born in late April, in a natural den dug by their mother, Yona, the pups are living much as they would in the wild. A newly designed habitat allows guests to be part of the experience as the pups grow and emerge from their den. Zoo animal care staff and veterinarians have seen the pups snuggled up by Yona’s side, and the zoo team plans checkups for the pups in the coming weeks.
Red Wolves (Canis rufus), the rarest of all Wolf species, are native to Florida and once roamed throughout the Southeast. Today, they are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, with only around 200 Red Wolves remaining in zoos and reintroduction areas.
Wolves were hunted by ranchers, to near extinction, for fear they would attack livestock. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP), ZooTampa is helping to ensure the Red Wolf population can continue despite serious threats to those in the wild.
“The birth of these Red Wolf pups represents a significant milestone for this species,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, the Zoo’s Chief Zoological Officer. “The success of this litter is encouraging and represents hope for the future of these incredible animals. Yona is caring for her pups in public view, which shows how comfortable and well cared for she feels.”
In addition to its Red Wolf program, ZooTampa leads in the caring, rescue and rehabilitation of several of Florida’s threatened and endangered animals, including Panthers, Manatees and Key Deer.