The birth of three litters of critically endangered American red wolves happened recently in North Carolina—and they were born just three days apart.
All pups and their mothers are healthy and doing well—with this the first time in the history of the North Carolina Zoo’s red wolf breeding program that a trio of litters was born in one spring.
The newest pups bring the number of red wolves currently in the Asheboro-based program to 36—making it the second-largest pack in the U.S. after Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Washington state.
Only 15-20 red wolves remain in the wild, and they’re all in eastern North Carolina. Currently, they’re considered the most endangered canid in the world.
For the first time in two decades, one of the litters was born on the red wolf public habitat—to parents Flint and Sassy—giving zoo guests a rare chance to view the pups for a limited time.
The pups most likely will be visible starting in mid-June, when they begin to venture outside of the den. The wolf family will be moved to the non-public breeding area when the pups are older and weaned from their mother. The other two litters were born in non-public viewing areas of the zoo.
“Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo for playing an essential part in the survival of this critically endangered species,” said Secretary Reid Wilson, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in a statement.
“These births are important because many of our wolves, once matured, have been moved to other breeding packs to continue to help bring this species back from near extinction. Our hope is that more and more red wolves can soon be placed into the wild.”