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Spotlight on Mexican Gray Wolf F516

F516, a.k.a “Lighty”

Mexican gray wolf F516 ( a.k.a. “Lighty”) has never had the chance to be among the lucky lobos who call the wilds of the Southwest home, but her life has been extremely meaningful nonetheless. The fourteen-year-old holds a special place in the Wolf Conservation Center’s (WCC) history and the hearts of the staff and volunteers who had a chance to behold her.

M575, a.k.a. “Shep”

F516 and her mate M575 (a.k.a. “Shep”) joined the WCC family in 2006 and were the very first pair of lobos to breed at our facility. Although F516 had proven fruitful in the past, the pair were unable to support a litter that year. The Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) Management Group gave the pair one final opportunity to produce pups in 2007 but again they were unsuccessful. Even though their attempt to start a new family failed, F516 will continue to contribute to the species gene pool for years to come. In 2009, F516 was spayed and her ovaries preserved so that any viable eggs (oocytes) could be harvested and used in the future. The procedure was an enormous success and a remarkable 67 viable eggs were extracted! What a woman!
Like all our other Mexican wolves during her tenure, F516 lived off exhibit in a remote area of our facility where WCC guests were unable to visit. We couldn’t see her, but she frequently made her presence known. She was the only Mexican gray wolf at the WCC who had a howl we could never fail to recognize.
F516 was transferred to the Oklahoma City Zoo during the fall of 2009 where she was widowed after the passing of M575. Her previous home in South Salem, NY was notably quieter without her. Now the grande dame of the Mexican wolf program calls Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center home in Scottsdale, AZ. The snowbird arrived on Monday and the press was there to celebrate her as they should!

It’s funny, even though we don’t interact or get to know the wolves within the MWSSP program, you can’t help being touched by a few that stand out. No doubt the other lucky facilities that hosted the gal in the past have something special to share about “Lighty,” as will Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center before you know it.