5 critically endangered red wolf puppies born at the North Carolina Zoo
The population of the world’s most endangered canine has just grown a bit.
North Carolina Zoo announcement the birth of five American Cubs on Friday. This is a particularly big problem because there are only 15 to 20 red wolves left in the wild in eastern North Carolina.
“Kudos to the North Carolina Zoo for playing such a vital role in the recovery of this critically endangered species,” North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi H. Hamilton said in the announcement of the birth. “This is yet another example of the zoo doing an incredible job of conserving wildlife and wild places.”
The puppies were born on April 21 to a mother named Piglet and a father named Jewell. This is the couple’s first litter.
“The puppies and their mother are all healthy and doing well,” the zoo said.
The new babies were all named after plants found in North Carolina, the zoo explained:
The names of the males are Oak (Appalachian Oak), Cedar (Red Cedar) and Sage (Azure Sage). The females are called Lily (Carolina Lily, the state’s wild flower) and Aster (Piedmont Aster).
American Red Wolves have struggled in the wild in recent years, as The Herald-Sun reported. They were declared extinct in the wild in 1980 due to hunting and habitat loss, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began efforts to reintroduce them to the National Wildlife Refuge. Alligator River as part of the US Red Wolf Recovery Program. Their number rose to over 130 in 2006, but then began to decline between 2013 and 2015 after FWS introduced a policy allowing landowners to shoot and kill wolves, as EcoWatch previously reported.
In 2018, a federal judge ruled the murder violated endangered species law and must stop.
In zoos, however, the species fares better. There are approximately 240 red wolves in breeding programs across the United States, the zoo said.
The North Carolina Zoo has been part of the U.S. Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1994 and has raised 34 wolves since the program began. The birth of the new puppies brings the zoo’s wolf population to 25, which means it has the second largest pack of red wolves in the United States after the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.
Six baby red wolves were also born at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina, in April 2019, the Herald-Sun reported. However, most of the museum’s red wolves were moved to Virginia in January, and no babies were born there this spring, WRAL reported.
The North Carolina Zoo is currently closed to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic, although you can still visit virtually. However, newcomers won’t make a difference just yet.
“Puppies are kept in a quiet, non-public viewing area of the zoo and have minimal contact with staff and caretakers,” the zoo said. “This allows their mother to raise the puppies with the least stress in a natural habitat.”
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