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Mexican Gray Wolf Max Takes on Essential Role in Wolf Recovery

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Mexican gray wolf Max, born at the Wolf Conservation Center in 2017, has embarked on an exciting adventure – the feisty four-year-old female has moved to the Endangered Wolf Center (EWC) and could welcome pups this spring!

Max, also known as F1620, was born to parents Belle and Rhett in 2017 and was named after a passionate and outspoken wolf supporter and advocate. Much like her namesake, Max proved to be brave, curious, and strong, quickly becoming the most adventurous of her littermates (sisters Nita and Jean). A global audience of live webcam viewers delighted in Max’s antics – her propensity for frolicking among the freshly fallen leaves, her appreciation for her weekly meal of roadkill deer (a native prey source provided to all pre-release wolves living at the WCC), and much more. Despite never meeting Max, viewers felt as though she was a kindred spirit – someone who was always excited to experience life.

With assistance from Pilots to the Rescue, Max traveled from New York to Missouri; at EWC, Max will reside with (and hopefully produce pups with) Nashoba, a four-year-old male Mexican gray wolf. Nashoba’s birth made headlines, as he was the first pup born via an artificial insemination using (thawed) frozen semen.

Extraordinary Efforts to Save Extraordinary Species

As participants in the Mexican gray wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the WCC and EWC take part in breeding and management actions designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the endangered population. The primary goal for the Mexican gray wolf SSP is to breed wolves for maximum genetic integrity for reintroduction into the wild.

Because the entire existing population of Mexican gray wolves is derived from just 7 individuals saved from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing decisions re reproductive pairings and captive-to-wild release events. It is also the reason that the SSP programs for both wolf species pursue extraordinary conservation measures to save these species including semen collection, gamete cryopreservation, and artificial insemination (AI). Nashoba’s mother, Vera, was inseminated in 2017 with sperm collected years before from a male wolf named Luis but Nashoba was raised by his “adoptive” father Mack, Vera’s mate.

An Exciting Future Awaits

We won’t know the outcome of a potential union until “pup season” in April or May. But in the meantime, throw back your head and let out a long congratulatory howl for Max!