North Carolina Zoo announces death of 2 critically endangered red wolf pups

A red wolf at the North Carolina Zoo (WGHP file photo)

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo on Friday announced it recently lost two critically endangered American red wolf pups.

The pups, Hurricane and Typhoon (Ty), were part of a pack of five born April 15 at the zoo under the American Red Wolf Recovery Program.

On Tuesday, zookeepers discovered two pups had received traumatic injuries, according to a news release. Zoo and veterinarian staff decided to humanely euthanize them based on quality of life factors. Staff determined the father caused the injuries, but the cause of this parental aggression is unknown.

“Red wolves are wild animals — their behaviors cannot always be predicted,” said Chris Lasher, animal management supervisor at the zoo and species survival plan coordinator for the American red wolf. “Even though this pair have had pups in the past and we had observed good parenting skills from both mom and dad with this litter, the father wolf caused traumatic injuries to two of the pups.”

Lasher said staff took as many precautions as possible.

“One of the reasons that these pups are being raised in a quiet, off-viewing area is to try and prevent this type of incident,” Lasher said. “But even with these precautions, we are not always successful in preventing these types of losses that are known to occur in both the wild settings and for wolves under human care.”

Veterinary staff members are conducting pathology tests to determine the health status of the pups at the time of death.

The remaining pups, Thor, Thunder and Oklahoma (Oakley), remain healthy and active and are continuing to be monitored daily, the release said. They are the offspring of Ayita (female), who is also healthy and active, and Finnick (male), both 6 years old. Finnick was relocated to give the remaining pups the best chance of survival. The loss brings the zoo’s pack to 21.

The American red wolves are part of the zoo’s breeding program with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Saving Species from Extinction or SAFE. The wolves are in a large, behind-the-scenes breeding area within the zoo’s 2,600 acres and have minimal contact with humans. Zookeepers check on them daily to monitor their general health and well-being.

The zoo has been part of American Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1994.

Once common throughout the southeastern United States, American red wolves are the most endangered canid in the world.

To learn more about the North Carolina Zoo and its American red wolf program, visit nczoo.org.