By WECT Staff | May 17, 2021 at 11:14 AM EDT – Updated May 17 at 12:39 PM
ASHEBORO, N.C. (WECT) – The North Carolina Zoo on Monday announced the birth of three litters of critically endangered American red wolves.
The litters, comprising 12 pups, were born during three days from April 28 to April 30. All the pups and their mothers are healthy and doing well, zoo officials said.
The newest pups bring the total number of red wolves currently in the North Carolina Zoo’s breeding program to 36, making it the second-largest pack in the U.S. after Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.
Zoo officials say only 15-20 red wolves remain in the wild, and they’re all in eastern North Carolina. They’re considered the most endangered canid in the world.
“Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo for playing an essential part in the survival of this critically endangered species,” said Secretary Reid Wilson, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “These births are important because many of our wolves, once matured, have been moved to other breeding packs to continue to help bring this species back from near extinction. Our hope is that more and more red wolves can soon be placed into the wild.”
Zoo officials say for the first time in two decades, one of the litters was born in the red wolf public habitat, giving guests a rare chance to view the pups for a limited time. The new pups will likely be visible around mid-June when they begin to venture outside of the den.
The wolf family will eventually be moved to the non-public breeding area when the pups are older and weaned from their mother. The other two litters were born in non-public viewing area of the zoo.
The zoo will be announcing a public naming poll for one of the litters within the next month.
To learn more about the North Carolina Zoo and its red wolf program, please visit www.nczoo.org
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