News Release

 

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

May 10, 2016

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mexican Gray Wolves Born at Brookfield Zoo

Two Puppies from Zoo’s Litter Released to the Wild as Part of Conservation Recovery Efforts

 

Note: Photos of the fostered Mexican gray wolf pups born at Brookfield Zoo may be downloaded here:


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Mexican Gray Wolf Pup Fostering-fact sheet.PDF


Photo Captions

0016 and 0023: Chicago Zoological Society veterinary and animal care staff perform neonatal examinations on Blaze and Brooke, two 5-day-old Mexican gray wolf pups, prior to their departure from Brookfield Zoo. As part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, the pups were flown to be placed in the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster them with its own litter. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

0066: Blaze (identified as M1471), a Mexican gray wolf puppy born at Brookfield Zoo, prior to his trip across country to be placed with the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves as part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. There he and his sister, Brooke (identified as F1472), will be fostered along with the pack’s own litter of newborn pups. The program is a multi-agency collaboration 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. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

0118: Brooke (identified as F1472), a 5-day-old Mexican gray wolf puppy born at Brookfield Zoo receives a neonatal examination from Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff prior to her departure to Arizona to be placed with a wild pack, which will foster her and her brother, Blaze, as its own. As part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, adult and offspring wolves at Brookfield Zoo are potential candidates for release to the wild in order to improve the genetic diversity of the wild population. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

1609: Blaze (left) and Brooke, a 5-day-old Mexican gray wolf puppies born at Brookfield Zoo, sleep while in transit to Arizona to be placed with the Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster the pups along with its own litter as part of a recovery program for the species. The fostering of Blaze and Brooke is only the second time in the history of the program that pups born in professional care were placed with an established wild pack. The technique, which has proven to be successful in this species, as well as in other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

1631: Brooke, a 5-day-old Mexican gray wolf born at Brookfield Zoo, is examined by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service veterinarian in Arizona. The pup, along with her brother, Blaze, will be placed in the Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster them with its own litter. The program is a multi-agency collaboration between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums of which , 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. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

3248: A biologist with the Interagency Field Team uses radio telemetry to locate the den site of the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack where two Mexican gray wolf puppies born at Brookfield Zoo will be placed for fostering as part of a recovery program. The technique, which has proven to be successful in this species, as well as in other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population. (photo credit: Interagency Field Team)

1658: An aerial view of the Arizona-based Elk Horn wolf pack’s territory. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)

1705: A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service veterinarian and Chicago Zoological Society veterinary technician head back to the plane for their trip home after a successful day of placing two Mexican gray wolf puppies born at Brookfield Zoo with an Arizona-based wolf pack, which will foster them with their own litter as part of a recovery program for the species. In pup fostering, very young pups are moved from one litter to another litter of similar age so that the receiving pack raises the pups as their own. The technique, which has proven to be successful in this species, as well as in other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population. (photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society)


Mexican Gray Wolves Born at Brookfield Zoo

Two Puppies from Zoo’s Litter Released to the Wild as Part of Conservation Recovery Efforts

 

Brookfield, Ill.—The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is excited to announce the birth of a litter of five Mexican gray wolves at Brookfield Zoo on April 25. This is the second litter born to Zana, 4, and Flint, 6. Currently, three of the puppies are in a den being nurtured by their pack at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. Animal care staff anticipate they will begin to emerge from the den site and be visible to guests in a few weeks.

As part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, the remaining two puppies, M1471 named Blaze and F1472 named Brooke, were placed in the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster them with its own litter. In pup fostering, very young pups are moved from one litter to another litter of similar age so that the receiving pack raises the pups as their own. The technique, which has proven to be successful in this species, as well as in other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.

Following a neonatal examination, the pups, accompanied by CZS animal care staff, were flown to Arizona on April 30. There, staff met up with a team of biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team, who successfully placed the pups in a den in which the alpha female had just given birth to her own litter. 

Since 2003, the Society has been a partner in this significant recovery program, which is a multi-agency collaboration 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. As part of this program, adult and offspring wolves at Brookfield Zoo are potential candidates for release to the wild.

“We are extremely proud to be able to contribute to this important conservation effort for the Mexican gray wolf population,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “The collaboration with USFWS and the other participating organizations is a real team effort and demonstrates the dedication of all parties to make this a successful program while also raising awareness for this highly endangered and iconic North American species.”

The Chicago Zoological Society plays a pivotal role in the recovery program, demonstrating its commitment to helping the Mexican gray wolf population. The first successful fostering of Mexican gray wolf pups occurred in the wild and included offspring born to a wolf from Brookfield Zoo who was the alpha female of the Coronado Pack living in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico. Sadly, she was found deceased in January 2015, but her legacy lives on with her pups. The fostering of Blaze and Brooke is only the second time in the history of the program that pups born in professional care were placed with an established wild pack.

“The USFWS is extremely grateful to the Chicago Zoological Society. We value our partnership with the Society and other member institutions of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan managed breeding program who have contributed so much to the recovery of the species," said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s southwest regional director. “Pup fostering is just one of the management tools we can use to improve the genetic health of the wild population.”

In addition to Zana, Flint, and the puppies, the wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo also includes the pair’s four yearlings, born in 2015. The pups born last year will assist their parents in rearing the new additions by regurgitating food for them and engaging them in play, among other behaviors. In addition, the yearlings will learn important parental skills from Zana and Flint for when they have their own litters.

“As the pups grow, zoo guests will have an amazing opportunity to witness the complex social structure of the wolf pack as they interact with each other,” said Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals.

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, the species was listed on the Endangered Species List by USFWS. 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 anti-predator 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 www.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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