News Release

 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, (708) 688-8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
May 9, 2017
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
NOTE: Images of the cross-fostered Mexican gray wolf pups may be downloaded below.
Photo 0712
Photo 8565
Photo 8579
Photo 8639
Photo 9604
Photo 9622
Photo 9660
San Mateo Litter

Photos by Chicago Zoological Society
8639: Two Mexican gray wolf puppies born at Brookfield Zoo who were cross-fostered into a wild wolf pack in New Mexico as part of a recovery program for the species.
 
8565: Dr. Copper Aitken-Palmer, associate veterinarian for the Chicago Zoological Society, performs a neonatal examination on a Mexican gray wolf puppy born at Brookfield Zoo on April 22, 2017. The puppy is one of two who were cross-fostered into a wild wolf pack in New Mexico on May 3, 2017, as part of a recovery program for the species.
 
8579: One of five Mexican gray wolf puppies born at Brookfield Zoo on April 22, 2017. The puppy is one of two who were cross-fostered into a wild wolf pack in New Mexico on May 3, 2017,  as part of a recovery program for the species.
 
9622 and 9660: As part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, these two wild-born Mexican gray wolf puppies were recently cross-fostered into a wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo. In addition, two puppies born at the zoo were placed with the wild pack, known as San Mateo, in New Mexico. This technique improves the demographic and genetic diversity of the Mexican gray wolf populations in the wild and in professional care.
 
9604: A wild-born Mexican gray wolf puppy recently arrived at Brookfield Zoo to be cross-fostered with the zoo’s wolf pack as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recovery program for the species. As part of the cross-fostering process, two puppies born at the zoo were placed into a wild wolf pack, known as San Mateo, in New Mexico. Cross-fostering improves the demographic and genetic diversity of the Mexican gray wolf populations in the wild and in professional care.
 
0712: The San Mateo wild Mexican gray wolf pack’s territory in New Mexico

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team
San Mateo Litter: The San Mateo wild wolf pack in New Mexico now includes two puppies who were born at Brookfield Zoo and placed with the pack’s litter for cross-fostering as part of the recovery program for the species.


Mexican Gray Wolves Born at Brookfield Zoo
Chicago Zoological Society Helps Wild Mexican Gray Wolf Population
in Cross-Fostering Endeavor

 
Brookfield, Ill. – The Mexican gray wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo recently increased in size. One female and four male puppies are currently in a den with Zana, their 5-year-old mother, at the Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat—but not all of them were born at Brookfield Zoo.

Since 2003, the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, has been a partner in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program. As part of this effort, adult wolves and their offspring at Brookfield Zoo are potential candidates for release to the wild. Zana gave birth to a litter of five pups on April 22. Subsequently, USFWS officials proposed cross-fostering, which is the transfer of young pups from one litter to another litter of similar age so that each receiving pack raises the pups as their own. In this particular circumstance, the objective was to place two pups from Brookfield Zoo’s litter with a wild pack and place two wild-born puppies in the zoo’s pack.

“Improving the genetics of the wild Mexican wolf population is essential to their recovery,” said Sherry Barrett, USFWS’s Mexican wolf recovery coordinator. “This cross-foster provides the opportunity to improve the genetics of the population in the wild and to meet demographic and genetic needs of the population in breeding and care facilities as well.”

On May 3, following a neonatal examination at the zoo, CZS animal care staff travelled with a male and a female pup from Brookfield Zoo to New Mexico, where they met a team of biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team. The pups were successfully placed in the den of the San Mateo wild wolf pack, where the alpha female had recently given birth to her own litter of six males and two females—one of the largest documented litters in the wild.  At the same time, the CZS team received a male and a female puppy from the San Mateo pack for care and transfer to the zoo.  CZS staff returned to Illinois and successfully placed the wild-born puppies in the den at Brookfield Zoo where Zana has been observed caring for the litter. It is anticipated that they will emerge from the den within the next few weeks at which time zoo guests will have an incredible opportunity to witness the complex social structure of the wolf pack.

In addition to USFWS, other collaborating agencies in the recovery program include 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.

“CZS is thrilled to be a part of this important recovery endeavor, and it has been extremely rewarding to see wolves from Brookfield Zoo contributing to conservation efforts for the Mexican gray wolf wild population,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Society. “The collaboration among all the participating organizations is a true testament to the dedication of everyone involved. We also hope our efforts help raise awareness of the importance of the conservation of this North American species.”

This cross-fostering endeavor is not the first time CZS has contributed to the program. In 2016, two wolf puppies born at the zoo were placed in a wild pack. Additionally, in 2015, an adult female from Brookfield Zoo was released to the wild and gave birth to a litter of six puppies. Sadly, she was found deceased in January 2015, but her legacy lives on with her pups. Wildlife biologists have confirmed observations in Arizona (another release site) of wolves originating or associated with Brookfield.

In addition to Zana; her mate Flint, age 7; and the pups, the wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo also includes the pair’s three yearlings, born in 2016. 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. The most recent litter is the third for Zana and Flint.

Mexican gray wolves are the rarest subspecies of gray wolves in North America. Approximately 4,000 wolves once lived in their historic range, which included central and northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. In May 1976, USFWS added the species 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.

As of August 2016, the population of the species in professional care is 245 individuals in 53 institutions. There are currently a minimum of 113 Mexican gray wolves living in the wild in the U.S. and approximately 20 in Mexico.
 

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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. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, 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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