12 endangered red wolf puppies born at the North Carolina Zoo

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Three litters of American red wolves, critically endangered and numbering less than two dozen in the wild, were born at the North Carolina Zoo, officials said Monday.

The zoo said in a press release that the litters, which total 12 puppies, were born in three days at the end of April. According to zoo officials, all of the puppies and their mothers are healthy and doing well.

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The most recent puppies bring the total number of red wolves currently in the zoo’s breeding program to 36, making it the second largest pack in the United States after the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., according to the North Carolina Zoo.

Zoo officials said only 15 to 20 red wolves remained in the wild, all in eastern North Carolina. They are considered to be the most endangered canines in the world.

For the first time in two decades, a litter has been born in the public habitat of the red wolf. The puppies will most likely be visible from mid-June, when they begin to venture outside the den, according to the press release.

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The wolf family will be moved to the non-public breeding area when the puppies are older and weaned from their mother. The other two litters were born in non-public viewing areas of the zoo, officials said.

An announcement on a public naming poll for one of the litters will take place next month, the zoo said.

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