9 Endangered Red Wolf Pups Born at North Carolina Zoo


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What's cuter than one wolf pup? Nine! The North Carolina Zoo announced the arrival of nine critically endangered red wolf pups in early May 2023. Born to two wolf families in captivity, the pups are part of the American Red Wolf SAFE Program, which is an agreement among zoos to collectively manage red wolf populations in captivity for conservation purposes. The babies will grow up sheltered from humans in the hope that they one day may live and thrive in the wild.

The red wolf, Canis rufus, is a species of wolf with a reddish tinge on its grey-brown fur. Weighing 45–80 pounds, they travel in packs and hunt mammals such as deer and rodents. Sadly, campaigns to eliminate predators such as the wolf and habitat loss pushed them to near extinction in the early 20th century. Now critically endangered, only an estimated 15 to 17 live in the wild in North Carolina. Around 235 live in captivity. Due to the small nature of the wild population and poor rates of survival for their pups, breeding programs in zoos must step up to help the species rebound.

The American Red Wolf SAFE Program is designed to preserve the species and, ideally, to build the wild population. The nine new pups in North Carolina will be raised away from zoo visitors. According to a post by the zoo, this is “to give them the best chance for survival in the wild” as “all red wolves under human care are potential candidates for release to the wild.”

At the zoo, the pups are carefully watched to ensure they are healthy. After their first 24 hours of life, the pups are visually assessed to make sure they look healthy and hydrated. “They are checked for heart murmurs and a cleft palate,” the zoo notes, “to ensure they have the suckle reflex so they can nurse properly. Each pup is weighed, sexed, and identified by its white blaze chest patch.” Veterinarians will check back every two weeks. In the meantime, wolf parents Marsh and Roan, who have three pups, and Denali and May, who have six, deserve congratulations for their little ones.

Nine critically endangered red wolf pups were born to two wolf families at the North Carolina Zoo. This is critical for the species, only 15 of which live in the wild.


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The American Red Wolf SAFE Program is trying to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

Adult Red Wolf

Adult Red Wolf. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0)

North Carolina Zoo: Website | FacebookInstagram
h/t: [CNN]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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