Saturday, May 2, 2009

Red Wolf Pups Released into the Wild Yesterday

Dateline Chicago. Happenings at the zoo. This is big news. This news doesn't happen every day. This news has never happened in Chicago before. This news will make you happy!

On April 24, six critically endangered red wolf pups were born at Lincoln Park Zoo. This is the second litter for the pair that have been together since 2006. Last year's litter were sent to zoos earlier this year where they will continue to serve as ambassadors for their species.

Yesterday, four of the new pups began their journey to North Carolina where they will be released into the wild as part of the Red Wolf Recovery Program. The pups will be fostered by wild adult wolves after being inserted into the dens of the adult wolves who will serve as foster parents. These are the first pups from Lincoln Park Zoo to be released into the wild.

Red wolves were once very common throughout the southeastern U.S. but in the 1960s their populations were decimated due to intensive predator control programs and loss of habitat. In 1973 they were declared endangered and efforts were made to round up as many wild red wolves as possible. Only 17 wolves were captured, which is a really small population. Of these 17, 14 became founders of a successful managed-breeding program. In 1980, because of their low numbers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service declared the red wolf extinct in the wild.

Fast forward to 1987. Due to the successful breeding of the founder wolves, a restoration program on the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina was created. During the 22 years since then, the experimental population area has expanded to include three national wildlife refuges, Department of Defense and state-owned lands and private property, totaling 1.7 million acres.

The red wolf fostering strategy of placing red wolf pups born via a managed breeding program into wild dens has been very successful over the past decade. According to Arthur Beyer, red wolf field coordinator for the US Fish & Wildlife Service, "Wild mothers have readily accepted the pups as long as the pups are placed in the den when they are this young. The field team has identified two or three denning pairs where Lincoln Park Zoo pups are an ideal fit." Yeah!

The pups were pulled from their zoo den earlier yesterday morning and examined by zoo vets before embarking on their journey to North Carolina. It was unknown at the time whether the pups will be placed in a single den, or split among a couple different wild dens. One thing is for certain - once they are placed with their dens, they will left alone with their foster mothers and no one will check on them for a year. Yikes! A whole year? This strategy has worked so well in the past because the pups will be placed with mothers who have raised pups in previous year.

Mom thinks the pups are very cute, but not as cute as pug puppies. She is very excited about the pups being part of the recovery program and she hopes that she can visit them in the wild one day soon. Zoo visitors love seeing the wolves and when they learn about the wolves near demise, they are encouraged and hopeful for a comeback. Mom love pointing out the wolves, as they run around their nearly 10,000 ft habitat, to visitors. They are located in the Pritzer Family Childrens Zoo, whose theme is At Home in the Woods. Walking through the exhibit is like walking through the woods, so the animals found their are animals that are or were once in this area. There are river otters, beavers, black bears, kestrels, screech owls, fox snakes, walking sticks, box turtles, Blanding's turtles, and more. It is a very special place in the zoo, which sits in the middle of the city. You almost forget that you are in the city as you get wrapped up in the natural sites and sounds of the woods.

As for me, I never get to go to the zoo or to wildlife refuges. I just live vicariously through Mom.

The Red Wolf Recovery Program is a cooperative conservation effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Red Wolf Species Survival Plan and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. For more information on the program, check out


Nancy and the fatties said...

What a great post! We have always loved and respected wolves, they are such noble, beautiful creatures.
four paws up and circle snaps!
pughugs from Texas

Stubby said...

Hey Nancy and the fatties - I'm so glad you loved this post. The red wolf story is amazing and hopefully these pups will thrive in their wild habitat.
Are the kids away at "obedience school"?
Stubby xoxo

Salinger The Pug said...

Awww...those little pups are so cute!

Great post...we always learn so much from you are like the wisest Pug EVER!

We hope you DO make it down for a Indy Pug Meetup! We meet the first Saturday of each month. We'll be meeting in the morning for the next few months since it will be summery.

Hope to see you soon, dude!


Stubby said...

Hey Salinger - What a nice compliment! Thanks dude!
Mom is looking at her calendar and I am looking at mine to see which first Saturday looks good. I have never been on a road trip, so I am doubly excited!
Stubby xoxo

Pearl said...

Sweet Stubby, this was such a cool post! Those pups are so tiny and sweet! I am crossing my paws that their new foster mommas take them in and love them forever!

Did my little puggy eyes read above that you might be going to an Indy Pug Meetup?! OHHH I am jealous!

Stubby said...

Hey Pearly Poo - How is 'obedience school' going? I am heading to Colorado in a few weeks and I can't wait to see you.

Your little puggy eyes read correctly - Mom and I might be going to an Indy pug meetup. Indy is not that far from Chicago and I told Mom that I need to meet my blogging friends. You should join us - we would had the best time!

Stubby xoxo