Two Eɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ Mexican gray wolves are now the proud parents of seven pups, at the Albuquerque zoo.
By the 1970s, the Mexican Gray Wolf had nearly ᴅɪsᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴇᴅ from the face of the planet — ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪᴠᴇʟʏ ʜᴜɴᴛᴇᴅ by ᴛʀᴀᴘᴘᴇʀs, sʜᴏᴛ ᴅᴏᴡɴ by government officials and ranchers. However, decades of breeding and release programs have given the wolves a second chance.
In the latest sign this Eɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ subspecies of the gray wolf could be mounting a comeback, the Albuquerque BioPark in New Mexico announced that seven pups were recently born and sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇᴅ the first weeks of life.
The pups recently emerged from their underground den for the first time. Zookeepers have only been able to view the pups by camera so far because the mother is being protective. Whenever possible, the pups will undergo an exam and their sexes will be determined.
The new litter joins mom Kawi, dad Ryder, and older brother Archer, who was born last May along with two other baby wolves that did not sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ. BioPark said that the ᴍᴏʀᴛᴀʟɪᴛʏ rate is high for pups born to first-time mothers, like Kawi when she had Archer and his late siblings, with 30% of Mexican wolf pups passing away before their first birthday.
Zoo manager Lynn Tupa said that while second litters tend to be larger, BioPark staffers were still surprised that Kawi’s second litter was seven pups.
“The ABQ BioPark has played an important role in Mexican wolf recovery over the years and we’re proud to contribute to the sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟ of this critically Eɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ subspecies,” said Tupa. “Every new Lobo that we welcome boosts overall sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟ of wolves in the wild.”
The ABQ BioPark is part of a nationwide captive-breeding network that supports the recovery of the Eɴᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴇᴅ ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀs in the Southwest U.S. The goal of the program is to make the most genetically diverse ᴍᴀᴛᴄʜᴇs to improve the health of Mexican wolves.
The Albuquerque zoo has been part of the breeding effort for years, having welcomed 79 wolf pups since 1983.