Seven years ago today, the Wolf Conservation Center family grew. During the early morning hours on April 22, 2008, Mexican gray wolf F613 quietly had six pups in her den and created a new holiday- “B’Earth Day.” The six newborn pups (three girls and three boys) were not only adorable, they were and still remain an essential contribution to the recovery of their rare species.
After a week had passed, WCC curator Rebecca Bose gave the pups their first checkup. At this age, pups are still blind, their eyes not opening until about 10 days of age. Since these wolves are a part of the Mexican wolf Species Survival Plan, it was important that they received as little human contact as possible so they retained their natural wariness of people.

WCC staff became reacquainted with the litter when the pups were two months old. This is also when the pups were officially given their alphanumeric “names.”

Also at this age, beginning at about 5 weeks old, the pups emerged from the den to explore the world around them.  Because the tiny explorers cannot go far, adult wild wolves will travel less during this season, keeping most activities focused on the den or rendezvous site.  All ears and paws, the pups romp, play, bite, and tackle one another. This of course is great fun for the siblings, but it’s also a way for the pups to sharpen important skills that they’ll require as adults and lets them establish which sibling will be dominant in the pack hierarchy.  By the time the pups celebrated their first birthday in 2009, one male yearling was clearly his father’s right hand man, shadowing every move of his handsome role model.


As the siblings matured, opportunities came knocking. As a part of ongoing efforts to reintroduce critically endangered Mexican gray wolves into a portion of their ancestral home in the United States southwest and northern Mexico, U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) selected one of the pups to be released into the wild! Mexican gray wolf M1141 was transferred from the WCC in September of 2013 to meet his “bride” at USFWS’ Sevilleta Management facility in New Mexico to prep him for his eventual home on the wild landscape of northern Mexico. Today, M1141 remains at pre-release facility south of the border in Northern Mexico and is slated to receive the “call of the wild” soon.  Although M1141 will be the third Mexican wolf from the WCC chosen for release into the wild, he’s a pioneer among his litter-mates.

Sadly, on May 13, 2014 Mexican wolf F1144 passed away after her kidneys failed.

All grown up now, the four remaining “Earth Day Pups” reside with their soon to be 16-year-old mother, F613.  So today on their birthday, we’re keeping our hopes high that one day we can offer more of them the ultimate gift – an opportunity to bring their ancestral home on the wild landscape back to balance. Happy B’Earth Day, Lobos!

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Today we celebrate Alawa and Zephyr’s birthday! Hard to believe our rambunctious pups are entering their fabulous fours! An inspiration from their adorable start, the stunning siblings continue to thrive in their “Ambassador” roles. They open the door to understanding the importance and plight of their wild kin, and our personal responsibility for improved human stewardship of our World. Keep up the great work, kiddos!

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For the second time this year, a canine that is believed to be a gray wolf has been found in Illinois. Sadly, the animals (both female) were found dead after falling victim to vehicles. Read more here.

Wolves once roamed the U.S. from sea to shining sea. But slaughter by humans resulted in bringing wolves to the brink of extinction. In recent decades, reintroduction and conservation efforts have revived gray wolf populations in some regions. And now, the carnivores are making inroads into other historic territories on their own. High Country News plotted a few other notable wolf treks of late on a map, with lines that give a crude sense of the distance they’ve traveled.

Mapping wolf dispersal.

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Birthdays abound! Wolves are mono-estrus, breeding only once a year during the winter months. So springtime is birthday season! Today we celebrate  Mexican gray wolf M1133 (aka Rhett) and also Mexican wolf M749.  As M1133’s mother, she deserves to be celebrated too!

M1133 was born at the California Wolf Center in 2008 and lived at New Mexico’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility since his puppyhood. Like most of the Mexican wolves at the WCC, M1133 was cared for in a way to best prepare him for a future in the wild. In order to ensure the genetic health of this terribly limited population, it’s vital that the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program grants new wolves an opportunity to join their wild kin. And what an amazing gift to bestow – freedom!

In January of 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved the release of M1133 in hopes that the young male would fill a void within Arizona’s Bluestem pack created after alpha male M806 was illegally shot and killed on July 6, 2012. M1133 was released on January 8th in the Apache National Forest of east-central Arizona, however, his stint in the wild was short lived. After just 3 weeks in the wild, M1133 was placed back in captivity. USFWS captured the lobo because he failed to catch the attention of the Bluestem Pack’s alpha female. Shortly after his release, M1133 headed east crossing the state border into New Mexico. When it became clear to USFWS that he was heading increasingly further away from all wild lobos (likely in search for a mate) it was decided that the genetically valuable wolf can better contribute to the recovery of this rare species by being introduced to a mate in captivity. M1133 was then paired with a wild-born female at USFWS’ captive breeding center and released again that spring with his new mate F1108. Sadly, the energetic lobo again trekked great distances out of the Mexican wolf recovery area to find himself in poor habitat, and surrounded by human settlements, major roadways, and very little natural prey. Consequently, M1133 was brought back to captivity and has resided at the Wolf Conservation Center ever since.

Although we wish the captive-born lobo could have remained in the wild, he receives the best care with us and his story contributes to our efforts to raise awareness of the importance of his endangered kin and the challenges of recovery on the wild landscape. Happy birthday, Lobo!

Visit M1133 via LIVE webcam.

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Throw back your head and let out a long celebratory birthday howl for Nikai! Welcome to yearlinghood, kiddo! The Wolf Conservation Center‘s youngest Ambassador has been an inspiration from his adorable start. Within a month of joining the WCC family the little beast huffed, puffed, and hiccuped his way into hearts of minds of a global audience. He almost “broke the internet!”

As an important part of the WCC’s Ambassador Pack, Nikai continues to be a powerful presence in the fight to preserve wolves’ rightful place in the environment.

Learn how you can help support the WCC by “adopting” Nikai! Click here for information.

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