Baby news! NC Zoo welcomes five red wolf puppies ::

The North Carolina Zoo has good news to share in these unusual times: They have baby red wolves.

The zoo announced the birth of five critically endangered American red wolves on Tuesday, April 21. The puppies and mother are healthy and doing well, according to the zoo. There are currently only 15 to 20 red wolves in the wild, only in eastern North Carolina, making them the most endangered canid in the world, the zoo said.

To celebrate North Carolina, the rare puppies were named after plants found in the state, according to the press release. 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). This is the first litter for Mom Piglet and Dad Jewell, and brings the number of Red Wolves in the zoo’s breeding program to 25, making them the second largest pack in the United States after the zoo. and Point Defiance Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash.

Puppies currently have minimal contact with staff and caretaker, so Piglet can raise puppies with the least stress in a more natural habitat.

“Kudos to the North Carolina Zoo for playing such a vital role in the recovery of this critically endangered species,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in A press release. “This is yet another example of the zoo doing an incredible job of conserving wildlife and wild places.”

Once common throughout the Southeastern United States, wolves nearly became extinct in the late 1960s, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service launched an aggressive conservation effort – the American Red Wolf Recovery Program – that has leads to new ways of tracking and protecting the species, according to the zoo. The zoo has been part of the US Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1994 and has raised eleven puppies in the past three years and 34 wolves since the program began.

Jojo was born in February 2020

The North Carolina Zoo has 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, according to the zoo. As part of this program, the zoo is at the forefront of species conservation and population growth in the wild and in animals supported by humans, the press release said.

The Durham Museum of Life and Science also has red wolves, but has not welcomed any babies this spring. Most of the museum’s extended family red wolves were moved to a zoo in Virginia in January. Only brothers Ellerbe and Eno, who turned two last month, remain.

The NC Zoo is temporarily closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but proposes online virtual tours to entertain children and families.

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