Oct. 02, 2014
DURHAM —Hearts are broken at the Museum of Life + Science this week with the death of one of its beloved red wolves. The 9-year-old male died unexpectedly about 4 p.m. Tuesday from a twisted stomach and bowel, known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).
The wolf, known only as “1414,” had been at the museum on Murray Avenue since 2012 as part of the captive breeding and recovery population of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. Sherry Samuels, director of the museum’s Animal Department, said everything was going well for the wolf’s annual physical exam, although staff members were concerned about the distention of his abdomen.
The wolf was transported for further testing, which revealed the twisted stomach and bowel, considered an extreme emergency. “His condition deteriorated very rapidly and by the time he got to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital, he was in shock,” Dr. Debbie Vanderford, the museum’s consulting veterinarian, said. “Despite their heroic efforts, his condition declined and his prognosis for recovery was dire. Humane euthanasia was elected.”
The wolf, one of two at the museum, was born in Tacoma, Washington, in May 2005 and arrived at the museum in November 2012 from the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois. Native to North Carolina, the red wolf is considered one of the most endangered canids in the world. The museum expects to receive another male red wolf by the end of November.
Samuels said “1414” was more outgoing than the typical red wolf. “It seemed to me that unlike typical red wolves who are very shy, he was out and about and engaging when guests were around,” she said. “He was very inquisitive.”
She said the wolf would regularly appear in front of the exhibit’s viewing area. “He did spend a lot of time sleeping in the den, but when he popped out, he was right where the guests could view him.”
Samuels said the museum is part of a national wolf recovery and breeding program, so the museum’s wolves rotate every few years. The Durham museum has had 20 red wolves since it joined the preservation effort in 1992. “Any animal loss is tough, but it’s especially difficult when it’s an endangered species,” Leslie Peeple, the museum’s communications manager, said. “Our wolf exhibit in Explore the Wild is one of our signature exhibits and ‘1414’ was a wonderful, lively addition. He will certainly be missed by guests and staff alike.”