Friday, October 12, 2012

Syracuse zoo's new grey wolves recall the legends of Rome

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Syracuse, NY – Three young grey wolves whose names recall the myths of the founding of Rome have taken up residence at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Syracuse’s Burnet Park.

The brothers Romulus and Remus and their sister, Sylvia, began receiving human visitors today at the zoo’s refurbished grey wolf exhibit.

The pups were born April 22 at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park in Watertown, said Lorrell Walter, speaking for the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. They arrived at Burnet Park about a month ago and went on display after going through a standard quarantine. The other four siblings in their litter went to other zoos.

To prepare for the arrival of the new pups, zoo officials enlarged the grey wolf enclosure and lowered a picket fence surrounding it to give visitors a better chance to see them, Walter said. A mesh fence also encloses the animals.

As the pack is making its debut during Wolf Awareness Month, the zoo is conducting a wolf Awareness Weekend with special activities on Saturday and Sunday to welcome the new pack. Regular admission will be charged. The grey wolf enclosure is just past the Humboldt penguin exhibit and across from the reindeer area.
The zoo had been without grey wolves since February after the last one in its pack passed away. That female, Amani, was nearly 15 when age-related issues led zoo officials to euthanize her, zoo Director Ted Fox said. Her two male companions also had to be euthanized, one at age 12, the other at 14.
“In wolf years, those were very long lives,” Fox said.
The new wolves’ names pop out immediately to those familiar with Roman myth.

As the story is recalled at, Rhea Silvia had twin sons, Romulus and Remus. The boys’ father was the war god, Mars.

The mother and sons were cast into the river Tiber. The river’s god saved Rhea Silvia from drowning. A she-wolf saved the twins and suckled them.

The boys founded a settlement near the Tiber when they grew up. After Romulus killed Remus during a quarrel he gave the town his own name, more or less.

According to Rosamond Gifford Zoo officials, grey wolves are the largest species among the wild canids. They are recognized as the ancestor of all domestic dogs.

They have the largest range of any land mammal except humans and have lived in every habitat in the Northern Hemisphere except tropical forest.

As grey wolves preyed on domestic livestock, humans hunted them and nearly wiped them out in the lower 48 states. Conservation efforts have led to a comeback in some parts of their old range.