According to an organizational release,1 This birth is crucial because it promotes the survival of the species as only 15 to 20 red wolves remain in the wild, all located in eastern North Carolina. This pup is the first of its kind born at Roger Williams Park Zoo since 2005 and the first successful birth for Brave and Diego.
Zookeepers and the veterinary team have been monitoring Brave and her pup through an infrared camera in their birthing den. Approximately 72 hours after the birth, zoo officials recognized the pup had no tail via the camera. In an email to dvm360®, the team explained they believe the mom incidentally damaged the baby’s tail as she moved the pup during the first 24 hours. The cameras enable the team to further monitor Brave and her pup as she navigates her first-time maternal duties. Brave currently appears to be showing normal, positive parental care.
Wolves and dogs use their tails to communicate in social interactions, but zoo team members feel that the pup can adapt to overcome this disability by maximizing other visual and vocal behavior in pack situations.
“We are delighted that the red wolf pup is thriving and meeting all the expected developmental milestones despite the early loss of its tail. The vet care team is scheduled for a hands-on wellness examination and the first round of vaccinations later this week,” expressed Kimberlee Wojick, DVM, DACZM, senior veterinarian at Roger Williams Park Zoo, in the dvm360® email.
The mom and pup pair will remain in the den until they are ready to wander outside where guests can see them.
In 1980, red wolves were listed as Extinct in the Wild.1 Through partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the last 14 remaining wild red wolves were captured and brought into zoos to launch a captive breeding program, with the goal of potentially re-introducing them to the wild. This SSP and all Species Survival Plans is to create and maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population. With the efforts of these partner facilities nationwide, the captive red wolf population has risen steadily to approximately 250 wolves.1
Critically endangered red pup born at Roger Williams Park Zoo. News release. Roger Williams Park Zoo & Carousel Village. May 27, 2022. Accessed June 20, 2022. https://www.rwpzoo.org/about-us/pressroom/press-releases/critically-endangered-red-pup-born-roger-williams-park-zoo