The birth and survival of two endangered red wolf pups at a Wheeling, West Virginia, zoo is fueling optimism about survival of the species, which is nearly extinct in the wild.
With Williams support, the Oglebay Good Zoo restarted it’s breeding program and recently welcomed the first new pups to the zoo since 2007.
Born on May 19, the male pups are starting to explore their den and surrounding habitat. Eventually, they may be introduced into the wild to start families of their own.
The red wolf is a critically endangered species with an estimate of two dozen wild individuals remaining in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. Historically, the red wolf occurred in the wild from New York south to Texas, but populations had declined to only 14 wild individuals remaining in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana in the 1970’s due to habitat loss and human activities.
There are currently approximately 240 red wolves managed at 49 Red Wolf SAFE facilities across the U.S., with a goal of increasing the population in human care to 330 individuals to facilitate reintroductions and growing the wild population.
“The Good Zoo is incredibly grateful for Williams support that enabled our institution to develop the facilities and the operational capacity to once again participate in the Red Wolf SAFE program, enabling our team to actively participate in this important conservation breeding program to help save an endangered species that once inhabited West Virginia,” said zoo director Joe Greathouse.
“Every red wolf pup is an invaluable addition to this population, so the ability to provide additional space and management opportunities in human care provides this species with a greater opportunity to experience recovery in the wild,” he said.
In addition to providing operating support for the red wolf program, Williams has been a long-term conservation partner with the Oglebay Good Zoo to care for and conserve Eastern hellbender salamanders and pollinators.