Explore the Wild: Red Wolves

Outdoor Exhibit
Opens at 10:00 am
Year-Round
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Located in Explore the Wild, a six-acre woodland habitat and thriving wetland site where you can use the tools of a wildlife biologist, the Museum’s wolf habitat features two red wolves (Canis rufus) which serve as important ambassadors for the Red Wolf Species Survival Program. A pool with waterfall and a covered wolf den provide spaces for cooling off and relaxing while a rock quarry wall provides a naturalistic backdrop and vertical climbing challenge. Visitor-controlled cameras allow for an up-close look at wolf behavior inside and outside of the den.


Red Wolf Conservation

The red wolves living at the Museum are a part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), a collection of zoos and nature centers around the United States that are committed to the conservation of red wolves. The SSPs make breeding and non-breeding recommendations to ensure genetic diversity and work on projects that involve education, veterinary care, and field research. Instead of names, the Museum’s wolves are known by their SSP Studbook numbers. The red wolf is one of the rarest animals in the world; SSP facilities and breeding programs are essential to the long-term diversity and stability of red wolves.


Why do red wolves need our help?

Once a top predator throughout the southeastern United States, the red wolf is now categorized as critically endangered. To protect the remaining red wolf population, a managed breeding program was established in 1973 at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The success of this breeding program led to the reintroduction of red wolves to North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. Red wolves now inhabit a five-county area in northeastern North Carolina and although their numbers have grown, gunshot, vehicle strikes, and habitat loss continue to threaten their survival. The red wolf is one of our planet’s most endangered species.


Wolf care at the Museum

The Museum’s wolves eat a special variety of canine chow as well as whole prey items which are scattered throughout the exhibit. This encourages our wolves to use their sense of smell and natural hunting instincts. Behavioral enrichment enhances the quality of animal care by providing environmental stimuli that encourage animals to express natural behaviors. For our wolves this might mean adding bedding from other exhibit animals for a new scent experience or introducing animal antlers for chewing.


Meet Our Animal Keepers

Want to learn more about what it’s like to care for this endangered predator? Bring your questions and join us for a daily Meet the Keeper program! Program themes and location rotate weekly between black bears, lemurs, and red wolves exhibits. View daily schedule.