Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

#LoboWeek 2018

wolf pups at Brookfield Zoo

Happy Lobo Week! In March 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican wolves were released to the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, their ancestral home from which they had been missing for over 30 years. This month marks the 20th anniversary of the historic first release efforts which restored this unique gray wolf species to the mountains of the southwest.  The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) at Brookfield Zoo is celebrating #loboweek by sharing some facts about the Mexican wolf recovery program.

There are five living subspecies of gray wolves found in North America.  Mexican wolves are the most genetically unique of those subspecies. Mexican wolves, or lobos, came close to extinction in the mid-1970s due to habitat loss and human impact. Often perceived as a threat to humans and livestock, these predators were eradicated from their native lands. In 1976 they were recognized as an endangered species and the first recovery efforts began.

Mexican wolf pups in Arizona

The US and Mexico run a binational recovery effort to help restore lobos to their wild range and CZS has played an important role in these efforts. In 2016, 2 puppies born at Brookfield Zoo were placed in the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves. The wild pack then fostered the puppies and raised them with their own litter. In 2017, the zoo’s pack contributed two additional puppies from their new litter, this time to the New Mexico-based San Mateo pack.  This fostering technique improves genetic diversity of the wild population. Read more about the 2017 fostering at CZS.org/SanMateo

 

Wild lobos still face threats today, mostly due to misconceptions. Wolf-related livestock deaths are very low and wolves pose little threat to humans- no people have been attacked by lobos since their reintroduction to the wild- yet people often fear these animals and dislike their presence near communities. CZS staff and volunteers help to educate people about Mexican wolves and the important role they play in their ecosystem. By creating a better understanding of these unique creatures we can hopefully help to safeguard their future.
 
Raquel Ardisana
Animal Care Specialist
Brookfield Zoo

 

Posted: 3/26/2018 10:45:29 AM by Steve Pine


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