Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Red wolf pups born at Niabi Zoo

May 18, 2015

Niabi Zoo has announced the birth of five rare red wolf pups at the Coal Valley venue.

Two males and three females were born April 14. One male did not survive long after birth. The pups were born to 7-year-old female Kai and 10-year-old male Paco. It's Paco’s first litter and Kai’s fourth.

The four surviving pups, one male and three female, are the first red wolves born at Niabi. “There are only a few hundred red wolves left in the entire world, so to have four new ones be born and thriving right here in the Quad-Cities is an amazing privilege," zoo director Marc Heinzman said. If it weren’t for the captive breeding program started at the zoo in Tacoma, Wash., in the 1970s, this animal would be extinct. "We’re honored to be able to play a part in its continued recovery.”

The pups, which ranged in size from 540 to 839 grams a week after birth, have been developing well ever since, he said. “Wolf pups usually aren’t moving around outside of their den much until about six weeks of age, but these are ahead of schedule.” 

The wolf pups have not been named, but the zoo staff is considering options.

The pups will be available for viewing by zoo visitors on an intermittent basis as they move in and out of their den. “At this age, they are splitting their time between napping in their underground den and playing outside, so it will be a real treat to catch a glimpse of them,” Heinzman said.

Red wolves are a nearly extinct species native to the southeastern United States. They typically measure between 53 and 63 inches in length and weigh between 40 and 90 pounds. They are carnivores, typically preying on small and medium-size mammals in the wild.