The arrival of spring brought a litter of four critically endangered Red Wolf pups to Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo.
“Scientists estimate there are less than 30 Red Wolves left in their native habitat of North Carolina, meaning species is on the very brink of extinction in the wild,” said Curator Dan Boehm. “We could not be more ecstatic for the arrival of these pups to help save this species and bolster the population.”
The pups, two male and two female, were born on April 13. The dam, Becca, and sire, Rhett, were recommended to breed as part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a cooperative effort among Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions to save species. This is the first litter for the Zoo since 2010.
Canine gestation is around 60 days, with litters ranging from 3-6 offspring. The cubs typically stay in the den for the first month as they surpass critical milestones such as nursing, opening their eyes, and gaining strength. The pups have yet to venture from the den but have received their first veterinary check-ups.
Since 2005, Lincoln Park Zoo has been involved in the Red Wolf Recovery Program to try and assist the wild population with cross fostering of zoo-born pups into wild family groups and other reintroduction efforts. Since that time, Lincoln Park Zoo scientists also conducted a Population Viability Analysis (PVA), a computer model that helped to evaluate different management scenarios for the zoo and wild populations and scientific advice to the Recovery Program. The future status of the North Carolina wild population is uncertain, but the Red Wolf SSP and Lincoln Park Zoo will continue to work toward long-term recovery efforts.
Zoo guests can support the pups and Lincoln Park Zoo in its care and conservation endeavors by purchasing an item from the zoo’s Wish List. Just in time for Mother’s Day, guests can also ADOPT a Red Wolf to support world-class care for Red Wolf, Becca, and her pups all year long.
Red Wolves (Canis lupus rufus) are named for their red-tinged fur and are typically smaller than their ‘cousin’ Grey Wolves, weighing in around 90lbs. Native to the eastern United States, Red Wolves were driven toward extinction due to hunting. The species was targeted as a perceived threat to livestock, but research has shown the wolves primarily pursue non-domestic prey such as rabbits, deer, and small mammals.
Learn more about Lincoln Park Zoo and the Red Wolf pups by visiting: www.lpzoo.org .