ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo has five more reasons for you to smile.
A litter of critically-endangered American red wolves were born at the zoo on April 21.
“Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo for playing an essential part toward helping this critically endangered species recover,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources. “It’s yet another example of the Zoo doing amazing work to conserve wildlife and wild places.”
The zoo held off on announcing the new additions to the zoo family until Friday.
All five have names based on plants found in North Carolina.
Three boys were named Oak , Cedar and Sage after Appalachian Oak, Red Cedar and Azure Sage.
The two girls were named Lily and Aster after the state’s wildflower Carolina Lily and Piedmont Aster.
The five are the first children of father Jewell and mother Piglet.
The zoo says all the pups and their mother are healthy and doing well.
The North Carolina Zoo says only 15 to 20 red wolves still exist in the wild in North Carolina, specifically on the eastern end of the state. They are the most endangered canids in the world.
Across the nation, there are about 240 red wolves in breeding programs, including 25 at the North Carolina Zoo, the second largest pack in the nation.