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Photo Five American Red Wolves, a critically endangered species, were born at the N.C. Zoo on April 15.
By Luke Bollinger
Five American Red Wolves, a critically endangered species, have been born at the N.C. Zoo as part of the zoo’s red wolf breeding program.
The pups, three females and two males, were actually born April 15 as storms and a tornado swept through the Triad.
The pups remained unharmed throughout the turbulent weather, and their mother is also doing well. Four of the pups were named Thor, Thunder, Hurricane (Cane) and Typhoon (Ty). The fifth was named Oklahoma (Oakley) for the Oklahoma–shaped white mark on her chest.
The zoo has nicknamed the pups the “Fab Five” and are the offspring Ayita (female) and Finnick (male), both 6 years old.
For the time being, the pups are being kept in a secluded area away from the viewing public and will also maintain minimal contact with zoo staff and breeders to allow the mother to raise the pups in a stress-free, natural habitat.
The American Red Wolf was driven close to extinction during the late 1960s, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the American Red Wolf Recovery Program, which saved the wolf species from extinction.
The N.C. Zoo joined the program in 1994 and has successfully bred 29 wolves since. The zoo has bred nine pups in the past three years.
Found only in eastern North Carolina, there are an estimated 30 red wolves in the wild, with an estimated 230 in breeding programs throughout the U.S. The species normally births three to five pups in a litter.
The N.C. Zoo in Asheboro is one of the state’s and region’s top tourist attractions. According to an annual survey of North Carolina museums and historic attractions released by Carolina Publishing and Associates, the zoo was the state’s fourth-most-visited attraction in 2017, with 860,148 visitors. The zoo also took the fourth spot in 2016, with 799,159.