Day Two of Red Wolf Week: The Captive-to-Wild Foster Program
|1-day-old pup born at the WCC in 2010|
The red wolf is one of the most rare mammals in North America. About 130 red wolves roam their native habitat in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina and approximately 200 comprise the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) in facilities across the United States. As a participant of the RWSSP, the WCC is thrilled to be home to six red wolves with two breeding pairs. We are especially excited to be hosting red wolves that were selected to breed because there is a chance that some of their potential pups will be given the opportunity of a lifetime – a future in their ancestral home in the wilds of North Carolina! The Red Wolf Recovery Plan employs a pup fostering program to introduce captive red wolves into the wild. Adult captive red wolves are not candidates for release.
As soon as captive red wolves are born at the any of the participating RWSSP facilities, the host organization alerts the field biologists of their great news. If the captive born litter is robust and the date of births match those of wild red wolves, a couple of 7 to10-day-old pups (number of pups depends on the size of the litter) are removed from the litter and transferred to North Carolina. Ideally, each year a few captive born pups are blessed with this opportunity and are embraced by their wild foster parents. The pups then develop in the wild and thus gain survival skills required to mature and reproduce.
|Red wolf pup from the Lincoln Park Zoo|