The Latest on Red Wolves in the Wild
In 2021, The Wolf Conservation Center released four adults in the Alligator River Refuge in late March/April, two males and two females (the last adult release was in 1997). This release was the first wild release since 2014. Shortly after that, they released two more adults. A wild female with only two pups accepted four captive-born pups from a large litter born at the Akron Zoo into her den and is raising them successfully. The Akron litter of eight pups was born within days of the wildlife officers finding the wild den. Before that, there had been no breeding or active dens found in the wild for over two years, which led to the worry that no reproduction in the wild would doom the wild population. The North Carolina Zoo recently had three separate litters born, 12 pups total, so the captive population breeding program is doing well. With these introduced animals, the wild population is approximately twenty animals now, compared to around eight at the end of 2020.
AZA Red Wolf Species Survival Program
The AZA Red Wolf SSP (Species Survival Program) held its virtual annual meeting to complete the captive breeding and transfer plan. There are currently 245 Red Wolves in 45 captive collections. Births—31 in 10 litters, 18 did not survive, leaving 23 pups in 6 litters surviving. Nineteen adults have died since August of 2020. Several institutions are now increasing their holding spaces for captive breeding. St Louis Zoo, Missouri (7-1 acre enclosures), and Fossil Rim, Texas will be adding breeding spaces on their large acreage to help boost reproduction of the captive population to provide animals for reintroduction. There is research going on in reproductive areas, such as banking genetic material for future use. A children’s book is in the works, and a Red Wolf Gallery (art/photo exhibition that will travel to different institutions).
Brookgreen's Red Wolf Exhibit
At Brookgreen, we are gearing up for construction to start soon. A new viewing platform is being designed and engineered for the front of the exhibit area. We have cleared dead trees to make way for fencing, and we are in the process of getting bids for that fencing work. With these preparations, we will be ready to go when we get the okay from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Historic Preservation organization upon review of the archeology report. Anticipated exhibit completion will be in spring 2022. In October, Andrea DeMuth will be attending a two-day Recovery Species Husbandry and Handling Workshop at the Endangered Wolf Center in Missouri. This workshop will provide hands-on experience in capturing and handling wolves for veterinary exams and captive management.
Once we complete our exhibit space, animals will be designated or paired up to introduce into the new exhibit space, allowing us to house two breeding pairs—hoping for future pups at Brookgreen Gardens Lowcountry Zoo. We can’t wait!
National Wolf Awareness Week
Mark your calendars for National Wolf Awareness Week (American Red Wolf), October 17-23. It might be an excellent time to howl at the moon!
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