News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, director of public relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
May 27, 2022
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Note: Scroll down to bottom of press release to download photos.
 
Mexican Wolves Born at Brookfield Zoo Venture Out of Den
Three Pups Fostered with Pack in New Mexico to Help Wild Mexican Wolf Population
 

Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, is thrilled to announce the birth of five Mexican wolves. The litter was born on April 26 to 3-year-old Vivilette. Two of the month-old pups have begun to venture out of their den to explore their surroundings at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat, while their three siblings were released to the wild as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

To enhance the genetic diversity of the wild population, USFWS recommended three of the pups from Brookfield Zoo’s litter become part of the fostering program. On May 5, a Chicago Zoological Society senior veterinary technician and lead animal care specialist accompanied the 10-day-old pups—two males and one female—on a flight to New Mexico, courtesy of LightHawk Conservation Flying, a nonprofit organization that partners pilots with organizations to help transfer endangered species to new homes among other conservation projects. The pups were then successfully placed in the den of the Whitewater Canyon wolf pack by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team.

This year’s fostering is not the first time that pups born at Brookfield Zoo have been placed with a wild pack. The Chicago Zoological Society participated in a fostering in 2016 and a cross-fostering in 2017. In the latter instance, pups from Brookfield Zoo were fostered by a wild wolf pack and pups born in the wild were brought to Brookfield Zoo and raised by its pack. To date, two of the pups placed in wild packs have been confirmed to be alive and reproducing, which is a significant contribution to Mexican wolf recovery in the wild. A pup born in 2016 is the breeding male of the Prime Canyon pack, producing several litters with many of the pups surviving. The other, born in 2017, is the breeding female of the Leon pack and has reproduced two litters.

“Fostering wolves from under managed care into wild dens is helping us recover Mexican wolves by improving the genetic health of the wild population,” said Maggie Dwire, deputy Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The staff at Brookfield Zoo did an incredible job ensuring the three pups from their facility stayed safe, warm, and well-cared for on their journey to the wild. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our partners, including Brookfield Zoo, we fostered a total of 11 pups into the wild this year.”

Vivilette, a first-time mother, and her mate, 9-year-old Amigo, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2020 and 2021, respectively, as part of the USFWS’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. Since 2003, the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, has been a partner in the multi-agency endeavor with an objective to re-establish the Mexican wolf population in its native habitat of the southwestern United States and Mexico.

“We are very excited to continue to be part of this program, which is making strides to repopulate an iconic species that was once extirpated in the wild,” said Joan Daniels, senior curator of mammals for CZS. “This summer, those who visit Brookfield Zoo will be able to see firsthand the interactions between the members of the wolf pack, and will hopefully foster a better understanding of this charismatic species and the important role it plays in the ecosystem.”

Like domestic dogs, wolf pups are born deaf and their eyes are closed. At about two weeks old their eyes open, and a week or so later, they begin to appear outside the den. Once they are weaned at around 6 to 8 weeks, guests visiting the zoo might see the parents regurgitating food for the pups. To get the attention of mom and dad to feed them, the pups may be seen whining, nudging, nibbling, or licking the face and corners of the adults’ mouths. As the pups get more adventurous, they will begin exploring more of their habitat and pouncing and play-fighting with one another.

According to the Interagency Field Team that conducted ground and aerial counts this past winter, there are nearly 200 Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. And, Mexican officials reported at least an additional 40 individuals in Mexico, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary of releasing wolves to the wild.

Mexican 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 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.

Those interested in helping care for the Mexican wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. For $35, a recipient receives the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of a Mexican wolf, a personalized certificate of adoption, a Mexican wolf fact sheet, an Animal Adoption program decal, and an invitation to the exclusive 2022 Animal Adoption summer event. To purchase, visit www.CZS.org/AnimalAdoption.

 
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Photo Captions--credit CZS-Brookfield Zoo
4275: A month-old Mexican wolf pup at Brookfield Zoo beginning to explore his outdoor habitat.
 
3454: Amigo (top) and Vivilette, Brookfield Zoo’s Mexican wolf pair, at the entrance to one of the den sites.
 
33: Animal care staff retrieve three Mexican wolf pups at Brookfield Zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods. The three 10-day-old pups were flown to New Mexico to be placed with a wild wolf pack as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
 
4244: A 10-day-old Mexican wolf pup at Brookfield Zoo receives a wellness exam.
 
4294: Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai, senior vice president of animal health and welfare for the Chicago Zoological Society, examines a 10-day-old Mexican wolf pup prior to it being flown to New Mexico to be placed with a wild wolf pack as part of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
 
4331: Michelle Soszynski, senior veterinary technician for the Chicago Zoological Society, weighs a 10-day-old Mexican wolf pup as part of a wellness examination. The pup along with two of its siblings were flown to New Mexico to be place with a wild wolf pack as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
 
4369: A 10-day-old Mexican wolf pup at Brookfield Zoo. The pup and two of its siblings were flown to New Mexico to be place with a wild wolf pack as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.
 
4437: Three 10-day-old Mexican wolf pups born at Brookfield Zoo on April 26 are placed in a carrier in preparation for their flight to New Mexico, where they will be placed with a wild wolf pack. This endeavor is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan to increase the genetic diversity of the wild Mexican wolf population.
 
26: Michelle Soszynski, senior veterinary technician for the Chicago Zoological Society, feeds a 10-day-old Mexican wolf pup on a flight to New Mexico. The flight was courtesy of LightHawk Conservation Flying, a nonprofit organization that partners pilots with organizations to help transfer endangered species to new homes among other conservation projects. The pup will be placed into a wild wolf pack as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities 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. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and 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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