Through the month of October, Wolf Haven will participate in several activities commemorating Wolf Awareness Week. You can find us in WA, OR and even CA. At the Portland Zoo, there will be craft tables where youth are encouraged to participate and earn awards like a paw print pendant or wolf poster.
In 2016, five red wolf pups were born at Wolf Haven (four survived). The following spring, eight red wolf pups were born – TO THE SAME PARENTS! F1945 (Nash) and M1482 (Tala) are now the proud parents of twelve offspring.
by Pamela Maciel, Mexican wolf/bilingual education specialist, Wolf Haven
There are currently 19 Mexican gray wolves living at Wolf Haven International. All are part of a binational Mexican wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program. Of these animals, there is only one pair that sanctuary guests have the opportunity to admire during their guided visit: Mexican wolves M657 and F907 (otherwise known by in-house names Diablo and Gypsy).
All SSP programs were created to save highly endangered species from vanishing permanently by means of building a captive population through selective reproduction planning. Eventually, particular individuals could be potentially released into the wild. Both Diablo and Gypsy were born as part of the Mexican wolf captive breeding program, in 2000 at Detroit Zoological Institute and in 2004 at Río Grande Zoo, respectively. Diablo was transferred to Wolf Haven in 2004 and Gypsy joined him in 2005; ever since they have been sharing an enclosure on the public route.
They are such a cute pair to observe. Even though it isn’t huge, from a physical perspective their age difference has become quite noticeable. Gypsy is an 11-year old that looks like a blooming yearling; her sparkling big eyes and flamboyant coat often make visitors sigh. On the other hand, handsome Diablo’s 15-year old body is showing its natural decline; his movements are at times clumsy, he has lost almost all of his hearing and his sight isn’t that great either. That does not deter him from teaming up with “Gyps” every morning and engaging in enthusiastic displays with all their enclosure neighbors. Beyond the physical differences, their shared self-confident and playful character makes Gypsy and Diablo wonderful life mates as they celebrate ten years of togetherness.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Wolf Tracks magazine.
How to save an endangered species
The Mexican gray wolf, native to Mexico and the U.S., is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world. Their population dwindled to only seven wolves when a “survival plan” was put into place.
The Endangered Species Act, which mandates recovery of endangered species, prevented the complete human eradication of the Mexican wolf. By the early 1970s when the Act went into effect, their population was so low that wildlife officials felt the only option for restoration of this wolf was captive breeding and reintroduction to historic ranges.
Precarious existence of the Mexican wolf
Once common from Mexico to Colorado, today there are approximately 109 Mexican wolves left in the wild, mainly along the Arizona-New Mexico border (with one known wild pack in Mexico). A Mexican wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP) was developed to manage and oversee the captive breeding program and lend support to the reintroduction and recovery effort of the species in the wild. The MWSSP currently houses approximately 270 wolves in 52 facilities in the United States and Mexico.
Because the entire Mexican wolf population was founded by only seven animals, genetic diversity remains one of the biggest challenges to the health of this species. For this reason, careful analysis of each individual Mexican wolf’s lineage and genetic DNA are of critical importance to the program’s success. Participating facilities in the MWSSP program meet annually to assess the current status of the Mexican wolf population and make breeding recommendations for the coming spring. The meetings alternate between the U.S. and Mexico, with varying organizations assuming the role of host agency. Wolf Haven hosted the MWSSP in 2012; this year, it was held in Mexico City at Chapultepec Zoo.
Our director of animal care, Wendy Spencer, and Mexican wolf specialist Pamela Maciel attended this year’s meeting, which lasted from July 15-17. Here are some pictures from the three intense days in which breeding and transfer recommendations were made, and potential candidates for release into the wild were selected (most important, since this is the ultimate purpose of the program). It is a challenging, but worthy balancing act to ensure that not only are the needs of the program as a whole met, but the best outcome for each individual wolf involved is achieved.
As a result from last year’s MWSSP meeting breeding recommendations, three pair of Mexican wolves at Wolf Haven gave birth to litters this spring. There are currently a total of 19 Mexican wolves living at our sanctuary (11 adults and 8 pups). This makes a total of eight litters of Mexican pups that have been born at Wolf Haven between 1996 and 2015. Some of the first Mexican wolves released back into the southwest – after an absence of nearly 40 years – came from here. Mexican wolves from Wolf Haven have been released in 1998 and 2000. The births and releases were all direct outcomes of recommendations made at these annual meetings.
Wolf Haven International is proud to participate in this special program that is contributing to the recovery of the Mexican wolf.
Blog produced by Pamela Maciel, Mexican wolf specialist & Kim Young, Director of Communications,
Wolf Haven International
Sanctuary Update – Brennan Stoelb, animal care specialist
Blooming flowers and budding trees have given way to the smell of fresh cut grass and finding a shady spot to read a book. Summer is here!
Our oldest gal Clarice is doing well. She is currently taking two medications for some incontinence issues, which isn’t uncommon given her age. One of the medications, DES, has a very high success rate. While it hasn’t completely relieved her symptoms, there has been measured improvement while on DES. For a couple of months, she was on a roasted chicken kick as an extra morning snack. Then she decided roast was a better breakfast. After a few weeks, she went back to chicken. Recently, she has gone back to preferring beef roast. How long roast will be the preferred meat is anyone’s guess, but we are more than happy to accommodate Clarice! She is 18 after all.
In the spring issue, I mentioned the challenges we were having pilling our older female Kiawatha. We are pleased to report that she also loves raw beef roast. She likes it so much that most mornings she eagerly runs to the fence for her roast!
Between mowing the grass and weed-whacking, we have made some changes to the sanctuary. Guy and Anna, who were in the enclosure behind Juno and Shadow, have a new home in the back of the sanctuary with lots of seclusion! Not only does this allow Guy and Anna, who are a bit on the shy side, more privacy, but it also allows Juno and Shadow access to a second enclosure. Sometimes Shadow gets a little wary of certain types of cameras and this new arrangement allows him a buffer zone. Both pairs appear very happy with the new set-up!
Everyone was hopeful this year as we observed, via remote camera, three of the four Species Survival Plan (SSP) pairs that were recommended for breeding, actually engaged in breeding behavior. Unfortunately, due dates came and went without pups.
Tamaska, one of our female red wolves, looked pregnant and even spent hours in her den. Spirits were high among staff members. We were slightly concerned when Tamaska’s mate Jacob was seen entering the den, which typically the female would not allow. To get a better view of the goings-on, we borrowed a “snake” camera from a local plumber, Advanced Plumbing Technologies, and had a peek in her den. Unfortunately, only rocks were found. It remains uncertain if she was going through false pregnancy, if she miscarried, or if the pups were stillborn.
Pups or no pups, come on out for a visit and take a visit of the sanctuary. While you’re here, lose yourself meandering through our gorgeous mounded prairie.