News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org

May 24, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Note: Photos of the Mexican gray wolf pups at Brookfield Zoo may be downloaded below:

Photo Captions
0001, 0119, 0512, 0194: Three 1-month-old wolf puppies born at Brookfield Zoo on April 25 have recently emerged from the den and can be seen at the Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. Two additional puppies from the litter were taken to Arizona and are being fostered by a wild wolf pack as part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. The pup fostering shows promise in improving the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.
 
9945, 9859, 9104: Zana, a 4-year-old Mexican gray wolf, tends to her 1-month-old puppies at Brookfield Zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. Mexican gray wolves are the rarest subspecies of gray wolves in North America. Once numbering approximately 4,000 wolves in their historic range, the species was considered extinct in the wild. In the late 1990s, the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program was created to help increase the wild population. The current population of the species in professional care is 243 individuals in 54 institutions. As of December 2015, a minimum of 97 Mexican gray wolves were living in the wild. This reintroduced population is now a naturally functioning wolf population with regular births occurring.

Mexican Gray Wolf Puppies Emerge from Den at Brookfield Zoo

     Brookfield, Ill.—On April 25, 2016, five Mexican gray wolf puppies were born at Brookfield Zoo. Until recently, three of the unnamed puppies—one female and two males—have been in a den being nurtured by the pack. Now, at one month old, they have begun to venture out on their own and guests are able to see them in their habitat at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods. (The other two puppies were placed with a wild wolf pack in Arizona as part of a recovery program for the species.)

The addition of the three puppies represents the largest Mexican gray wolf pack that has resided at Brookfield Zoo since the arrival of this endangered subspecies in 2003. In addition to the parents, Zana and Flint, and their new additions, the pack includes the adult pair’s four yearlings born in 2015.

“The current pack at the zoo mimics those in the wild. Wolves have a very complex social structure, and we are excited that guests will be able to get a firsthand look at the interactions among all the animals,” said Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals.

Some behaviors that zoogoers may witness are the yearlings helping their parents in caring for their younger siblings by regurgitating food for them once they are weaned at around 6 to 8 weeks of age. In addition, guests may hear a variety of vocalizations—howls, yips, squeals, or growls—made by the wolves when communicating with one another. Other forms of communication that may be witnessed include facial expressions and body postures—used to indicate that one wolf is showing dominance over another, play behaviors, and licking, which is a greeting gesture.

The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages the zoo, participates in the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program.  As part of this program, adult and offspring wolves at Brookfield Zoo are potential candidates for release to the wild, which is what happened to the other two pups—a male and a female—from the litter. At just 5 days old, they were accompanied to Arizona by CZS animal care staff and placed in a fostering situation with a wild wolf pack, known as the Elk Horn Pack, which just had its own litter. Since the pups were placed with the wild pack, the adult wolves have been seen tending to a den site, which is a very promising sign that they have accepted the fostered pups as their own. Pup fostering, a component of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, shows promise in improving the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population. The program is a multi-agency partnership between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the USDA Forest Service, and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—Wildlife Services, as well as private organizations.

Mexican gray wolves are the rarest subspecies of gray wolves in North America. There once were approximately 4,000 wolves in their historic range, which included central and northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. In May 1976, USFWS added the species was to the Endangered Species List. From the 1980s until 1998, when reintroduction efforts began, Mexican gray wolves were considered extinct in the wild. Their demise, which began in the early 1900s, was the result of antipredator campaigns in the United States and Mexico.

The current population of the species in professional care is 243 individuals in 54 institutions. As of December 2015, a minimum of 97 Mexican gray wolves were living in the wild. This reintroduced population is now a naturally functioning wolf population with regular births occurring.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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