Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Ernesta Gray Wolf Update

The Chicago Zoological Society is saddened to report that Ernesta, a Mexican gray wolf who once resided at Brookfield Zoo, was found deceased in the Gila wilderness recovery area on January 7, 2015. Her death is still being investigated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials. Ernesta resided at the zoo from November 2010 until October 2012. She was then transferred to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, in preparation for her second release to the wild, which occurred in July 2014.

Although this is devastating news, Ernesta contributed greatly to the Mexican Gray wolf recovery program, and, and her legacy lives on with her pups, which are still thriving. For the complete story of Ernesta’s journey from Brookfield Zoo to the wild, including her successfully raising a liter of pups with her mate, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s website at

Mexican gray wolves are the most rare and most genetically distinct subspecies of North American gray wolves. The Mexican Wolf Recovery Program is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services in coordination with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums under its Species Survival Plan program and is a binational effort with Mexico. Currently, 248 Mexican wolves live in 55 institutions across the United States and Mexico. According to a release issued on February 13, 2015 by the U.S. Fish & Wild Service, there are a minimum of 109 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2014. At the end of 2013, 83 wild wolves were counted. This is the fourth consecutive year with at least a 10 percent increase in the known population—a 31 percent increase in 2014. This is just one example of the critical role zoological institutions play in the management, breeding, and successful reintroduction and conservation of endangered species. 

The Chicago Zoological Society’s participation in the Mexican gray wolf recovery program demonstrates our ongoing commitment to helping increase this species’ population in the wild. The Society is committed to promoting public awareness, education, and action about an iconic North American species that was previously extinct in the wild. The Society is also proud to have participated in the management and reintroduction of the golden lion tamarin in South America and the addax antelope in North Africa, among others, and to successfully engage the public to take action on behalf of endangered species.

Posted: 2/13/2015 6:16:18 PM by Steve Pine Filed under: mexican gray wolf, wolf

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

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