America’s red wolf has faced extinction for decades. Zoo Knoxville is doing its part to make sure that red wolves not only survive, but that they begin to repopulate in the wild here in the U.S. Hear from Assistant Director of Animal Care, Kelly Cox of Zoo Knoxville talk about what led to the diminishing numbers of red wolves and what is being done to save them.
Five healthy red wolf pups were born at Point Defiance Zoo’s off-site facility in Eatonville in early May. Adorable and growing fast, the pups are the latest success in the story of recovery for this critically endangered and iconic American species.
The pups are the offspring of 4-year-old Terra, and 6-year-old Banjo. The red wolves, unlike other Zoo animals, are cared for with little human contact and sometimes moved to other zoos to assist in their species’ national recovery program.
After a seven-year break, Schönbrunn Zoo can once again look forward to successfully breeding Arctic wolves. At the end of April, four young animals were born in a deep burrow and were initially raised there by their mother. “In the beginning, wolf cubs still have their eyes closed and are completely helpless. They need the protection of the den and the care of the mother. The four little ones can now often be seen playing, drinking and exploring. They also gain their first social experiences with the pack,” reports animal keeper Paul Wagner. They rarely retreat to the burrow to sleep. Wolf cubs are nursed for about three months. Gradually, they also begin to eat meat.
Three Pups Fostered with Pack in New Mexico to Help Wild Mexican Wolf Population
Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is thrilled to announce the birth of five Mexican wolves. The litter was born on April 26 to 3-year-old Vivilette. Two of the month-old male pups have begun to venture out of their den to explore their surroundings at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat, while their three siblings were released to the wild as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
To enhance the genetic diversity of the wild population, USFWS recommended three of the pups from Brookfield Zoo’s litter become part of the fostering program. On May 5, a Chicago Zoological Society senior veterinary technician and lead animal care specialist accompanied the 10-day-old pups—two males and one female—on a flight to New Mexico, courtesy of LightHawk Conservation Flying, a nonprofit organization that partners pilots with organizations to help transfer endangered species to new homes among other conservation projects. The pups were then successfully placed in the den of the Whitewater Canyon wolf pack by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.
Three Critically Endangered Red Wolf brothers were born on April 20th to mom, Ayita, and dad, Denali at North Carolina Zoo. The pups are also joined by their sisters, Alli and Roan, who were both born last year. Red wolves live in family groups, often with a mother and father and several years of offspring. The pups will remain behind the scenes as a part of the Zoo's red wolf breeding program.
The North Carolina Zoo fills a central role in efforts to save the American red wolf from extinction. Once the southeastern United States’ apex predator, American red wolf populations have declined so dramatically that the species now depends on breeding under human care to maintain a healthy, genetically viable population. By housing the second-largest pack of breeding American red wolves in the world, the Zoo is helping to ensure the survival of this species. The Zoo also plays a coordinating role in the larger Red Wolf Recovery Program that includes 45 other institutional partners. This role involves spearheading landowner outreach in eastern North Carolina where the last 15-30 wild American red wolves live, and searching for a second recovery area where this iconic species can once again fill its rightful place in the wild.
The North Carolina Zoo announces the birth of three litters of critically endangered American red wolves as part of its red wolf breeding program. The litters comprising 12 pups were born during three days from April 28 to April 30. All pups and their mothers are healthy and doing well. This is the first time in the Zoo’s breeding program that three litters were born in one spring.
The newest pups bring the number of red wolves currently in the Zoo's breeding program to 36, making it the second-largest pack in the U.S. after Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.
Only 15-20 red wolves remain in the wild, and they're all in eastern North Carolina. They're considered the most endangered canid in the world.
For the first time in two decades, one of the litters was born on the red wolf public habitat, giving Zoo guests a rare chance to view the pups for a limited time. The pups most likely will be visible starting in mid-June, when they begin to venture outside of the den. The wolf family will be moved to the non-public breeding area when the pups are older and weaned from their mother. The other two litters were born in non-public viewing areas of the Zoo.
The parents of two females born April 28 are Denali (male) and Ayita.
The parents of two males and two females born April 30 are Solo (male) and Taylor.
The parents of six pups – two males and four females born April 30 - are Flint (male) and Sassy. This is the pack born on the public habitat.
The Zoo will be announcing a public naming poll for one of the litters within the next month.
"Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo for playing an essential part in the survival of this critically endangered species," said Secretary Reid Wilson, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. "These births are important because many of our wolves, once matured, have been moved to other breeding packs to continue to help bring this species back from near extinction. Our hope is that more and more red wolves can soon be placed into the wild."
Once common throughout the southeastern United States, the wolves were driven to near extinction during the late 1960s, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began an aggressive conservation effort – the American Red Wolf Recovery Program – that led to new ways to track and protect the species. Those efforts led to increasing numbers of wild red wolves in eastern North Carolina, but changes in how the recovery program was managed have resulted in the wild population again plummeting in recent years.
The Zoo has been part of the American Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1994. The Zoo's red wolf pack has successfully bred 48 wolves since the program began.
The North Carolina Zoo led the successful efforts to have the American red wolf become part of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums SAFE (Saving Species From Extinction) program.
Under this program, the Zoo leads in conserving the species and growing the wild population and the animals under human care.
After the newest litter of European Wolves began emerging from their den a few weeks ago, keepers at Longleat Safari Park weren’t exactly sure how many pups were in the litter. They eventually determined that parents Eliska and Jango were raising seven pups!
Photo Credit: Longleat Safari Park
Once it was known that pups had been born, the care team allowed the family to bond without any interference from staff. Keepers would occasionally glimpse the pups when Eliska and Jango moved the pups between three separate underground dens in their woodland enclosure.
“As the pups spend their first few weeks underground it makes it very difficult to work out exactly how many there are. Initially we thought there were only five, so to discover there’s actually seven of them was a wonderful bonus,” said Longleat’s team manager for carnivores, Amy Waller.
The pups, which weighed less than a pound when born, are now able to eat small amounts of meat but will not be fully weaned until eight to 10 weeks of age.
This is the second litter born at the Safari Park in the last year and boosts the pack size to 14.
“The pups’ older siblings have also been getting involved with transporting them from den to den but have still not entirely got the hang of holding them the right way up so mum and dad do have to occasionally intervene,” added Amy.
Wolf packs have a highly complex social structure and each individual knows its place in the pack hierarchy. In the wild, wolves depend on cooperation within the pack for survival, both in hunting and in raising offspring.
Wild Wolves were eradicated from most of Western Europe in the 19th century and they have been extinct throughout the United Kingdom for more than 250 years.
Thanks to several Wolf reintroduction programs, the wild Wolf population in Europe is now thought to include 12,000 individuals in 28 countries.
There are established packs in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain and Italy with numbers also on the rise in parts of France and Germany. In 2011, Wolves were also reported in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Now that they’re starting to venture outside the den, the eight endangered Red Wolf pups born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are ready for names!
The pups, who were born May 10, are now known as: Chester, Cypress and Hawthorn for the three boys; Camellia, Magnolia, Myrtle, Peat and Willow for the five girls.
Members of the public overwhelmingly picked the slate of flower, plant and tree names for the puppies. The list of flora was compiled by the zoo’s Red Wolf keepers from among flowers, plants and trees from the wolves’ native range in North Carolina. More than 4,500 people participated in the voting.
Photo Credits: Katie Cotterill
During a recent exam by Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Kadie Anderson, the eight healthy pups weighed between 3 and 4 pounds.
“They’re growing fast, and they all appear to be healthy,” Anderson said. “It’s a joy to have them at Point Defiance Zoo and to watch them grow. They are the future of their species.”
If guests of the afternoon keeper chats are fortunate, the pups and mom Charlotte might make an appearance. Whether – and how far – they venture out into their habitat is all up to them, though. Puppy sightings aren’t guaranteed.
“We’ve seem more activity from them over the last week or so,” said Jenn Donovan, the senior staff biologist in the Kids’ Zone/Red Wolf Woods area of the zoo. “Charlotte is being a fantastic mother. She’s been nursing and bonding with them.
“As they become more mobile and independent, she’ll spend less time with them, but will continue to keep a watchful eye on her eight pups,” Donovan added.
North American Red Wolves are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, with only about 40 in the wild and just over 250 in zoos and wildlife centers across the nation.
The pups are part of a cooperative effort that helped bring these iconic American animals back from the brink of extinction four decades ago. Point Defiance Zoo has been at the forefront of the program, and these eight pups represent another success in the survival of the Red Wolf species.
These eight pups represent another big step in saving the American Red Wolf. On May 15, the staff gave the tiny pups a hands-on exam. The pups, which include three males and five females, weigh 11 ounces to 13 ounces each – roughly the weight of a can of soda.
The pups’ father hasn’t been introduced to his offspring yet. If he tries to come into the den, Charlotte warns him off with a low growl. Eventually she will allow him to meet the pups. Zoo staff members plan to propose prospective names for the pups and allow fans to cast votes for their favorites.
By the 1970s, only 14 red wolves were all that remained of this species that ranged across the Southeastern United States, from Pennsylvania to Texas. In 1980, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Red Wolf biologically extinct in the wild.
Today, some 40 roam the Red Wolf Recovery Area operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in northeastern North Carolina where they were reintroduced to the wild three decades ago. Red Wolves remain one of the most endangered Wolf species on Earth.
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.
Photo Credits: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo
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 .