Virginia Living Museum welcomes America’s new red wolf

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia – There’s a new four-legged family member at the Virginia Living Museum!

The museum announced Monday that it has welcomed Katniss, an endangered 9-year-old American red-haired wolf, to its outdoor walking trail. One of the last unreleasable animals to join the educational mission, Katniss is part of a federal species survival plan.

Katniss arrived at the museum under the care of Dr Kelsey Hayden, the museum’s chief veterinarian. Staff say Katniss has an extremely curious attitude and loves to roll around and eat fish, her favorite flavor and snack.

Katniss is from the Wild Canid Survival & Rescue Center in Eureka, Missouri, and is known to have an unusual howl, consisting of an irregular treble. She was paired with the museum’s 11-year-old male red wolf, who was recommended as a companion by the SSP as they are both mature animals perfectly suited to cohabitation. The museum says the twinning will provide the necessary companionship for pack animals now reunited in the natural habitat of the red wolf on the museum’s outdoor trail.

“Wolves are very social creatures that are able to form lasting relationships and bonds with each other,” says Dr. Hayden, “It is the only large carnivore with a range found only in the United States. . We are delighted to be able to offer Katniss a home so that she can spend her golden years with us.

The Virginia Living Museum is participating in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) to reintroduce the American red wolf to the wild. During colonial times, Red Wolves were found throughout the Southeast. Today, they are the most endangered mammal in North America. The museum is the closest facility to Alligator River, the only place in the country where red wolves currently live in the wild.

It is believed that there are fewer than 30 American Red Wolves left in northeastern North Carolina. After many years of successful captive breeding efforts, American Red Wolves were nearly self-sufficient in the wild about 10 years ago with around 120 wolves.

In recent years, their legal status in North Carolina has been reviewed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. In zoos and facilities like the Virginia Living Museum, the number of American red wolves is significant and serves as an assurance to the population against extinction.

Related: North Carolina Aquarium Welcomes New “Olive” Otter

The Red Wolf Species Survival Plan is a cooperative effort between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). They are confident that stricter legal protections will be restored for the Red Wolves in the future. Many facilities and groups, including Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and conservationists, advocate for the plight of the red wolf and the need to save this important species.

The Virginia Living Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard in Newport News. It will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

For more information visit the official website of the museum or call 757-595-1900.

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