Enter the Private Lives of Critically Endangered Wolves
Today we are thrilled to reveal our BIG Wolf Awareness Week surprise – a NEW WEBCAM! We can now welcome a global audience to join a beautiful family of critically endangered Mexican gray wolves. The family consists of the 15-year-old matriarch, F613, and her four “kids” (M1139, M1140, F1143 & F1145) born at the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) on April 22, 2008.
Year round, visitors to the WCC enjoy meeting our Ambassador pack- Atka, Alawa, Zephyr, and Nikai but the WCC is actually home to 20 wolves! Most of the WCC’s “other” 16 wolves — both Mexican gray wolves and red wolves — remain out of view.
The WCC participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Recovery Plan for the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupis baileyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus), which are among the rarest mammals in North America. Both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild. Under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act, reintroduction efforts in the past two decades have established small, wild populations of about 100 red wolves and 83 Mexican grays. Presently, there are approximately 400 Mexican gray wolves and 300 red wolves remaining in the world, the majority living in captivity within the network of facilities participating in the SSP.
Organizations participating in the SSP are tasked with housing and caring for the wolves, collaborating in the captive breeding program, and sharing observations and recommendations for release.
Wolves are naturally fearful of people, and a number of the WCC’s SSP wolves are candidates for release. Maintaining their timidity around people is essential if we want them to have a good chance of survival when they are released into the wild. Our SSP facility provides a natural environment where these most elusive creatures can reside with minimal human contact. Although this setting safeguards the natural behavior of these wolves, it also poses a great husbandry challenge for our staff: How to care for animals that we rarely see.
In the spirit of George Orwell’s “1984,” the WCC is making use of wireless surveillance cameras to observe food and water intake and monitor the physical well-being of each wolf without the animals’ knowledge. The cameras allow staff to study the pack dynamic and thus make the best recommendations with respect to which wolves are most suitable for release. The also give an unlimited number of viewers an opportunity to learn about the critically endangered species and our efforts to recover them.
So sit back, relax, and enter the private lives of these fascinating creatures.