Image Source: https://www.wral.com/
The North Carolina Zoo on Monday announced the birth of not one litter of critically endangered red wolf pups, but three litters, totaling 12 pups, born over three days from April 28 to April 30. Pups and moms are doing well, according to the zoo.
“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, in a press release. “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.”
The zoo now has 36 red wolves, the second largest pack in the United States after Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash. According to the zoo, only 15 to 20 red wolves remain in the wild, and they are all in eastern North Carolina. Red wolves are considered the most endangered canid in the world.
The births come with a couple of firsts.
This is the first time the zoo in Asheboro has welcomed three litters of pups born in a single spring.
And, 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, according to the zoo. 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 zoo said. The other two litters were born in non-public viewing areas of the zoo.
Here’s how the litters sorted out:
- 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.
The N.C. Zoo has been at the forefront of the effort to save the red wolf. It led the successful efforts to have it become part of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums Saving Species From Extinction program, according to the zoo. As part of the program, the zoo leads in conserving the species and growing the wild population and the animals under human care. Since 1994, the zoo has successfully bred 48 wolves.
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, the zoo shared in the press release. 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.