Birth of world’s critically endangered red wolf brings population to nearly 250
Born at the zoo on May 5, mum-of-six Brave was observed carefully caring for her little one. It is a historic birth for the zoo and an emblem of hope for the survival of this species. Only 15-20 red wolves remain in the wild and they are all located in eastern North Carolina.
The now month-old pup is the first red wolf born at Roger Williams Park Zoo since 2005 and the first successful birth for Brave and his mate Diego.
Zoo keepers and the veterinary team continue to monitor mum and baby through the use of an infrared camera located inside the newly constructed wolf whelping den. Although the puppy has been observed nursing and appears to be gaining weight steadily, the following month is a critical period for puppy development.
While seven-year-old father Diego can now be seen in the North American wolf habitat, the pup and mother will most likely remain in the den for the next few weeks. Guests may be able to spot the pup as they begin to venture outside the den.
Named for their red-tinted fur, red wolves are smaller than their better-known cousin, the gray wolf, and larger than the coyote. They most often hunt smaller mammals, including raccoons and rabbits, but occasionally prey on deer. Beyond howls, red wolves communicate through scent marking, facial expressions, and body posture.
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Red wolves were listed as extinct in the wild in 1980. Through the collaboration of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Red Wolf Species Survival Plan® (SSP), the 14 last remaining wild red wolves were brought to zoos to establish a captive breeding program with the primary goal of forming the base of a wild population through reintroduction into the wild.
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SSPs are cooperative species population management and conservation programs undertaken for threatened or endangered animals by AZA member institutions. The goal of this SSP and all species survival plans is to build and maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population. Through the collaborative efforts of these partner facilities across the United States, the population of red wolves in captivity has once again steadily increased to nearly 250 wolves.
Source: Roger Williams Park Zoo
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