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2024 Pupdate #1

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the original publication of this post, one of the pups has passed away. Following a necropsy (animal autopsy), it was determined that the cause of death was suffocation. This is common in large litters with new parents and, while not confirmed, is frequently attributed to the pup being pinned under the mother or a sibling. 

For the first time since 2019, the Museum of Life and Science has welcomed a litter of Red Wolf pups! On Sunday, April 21, five-year-old female Oak (F2304) gave birth to seven pups. Their arrival is a beacon of hope for the species and a significant milestone in our conservation efforts.

After allowing the new family to adjust for a few days, the Animal Care Team was able to carry out the first of many assessments of the litter today, Wednesday, April 24.

With weights taken and physical examinations completed, all seven pups have been determined to be in good health. We were also able to confirm that there are four males and three females.

Oak and her mate Adeyha (M2080), a 10-year-old male Red Wolf, are first-time parents. Identified last summer as a high-value breeding pair, Oak and Adeyha’s litter will help to maintain genetic diversity in the larger Red Wolf population. Oak, born in 2019 at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, joined the Museum in 2022, while Adeyha, born in 2014 at the New Zoo in Green Bay, WI, arrived at the Museum from Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, IL, on October 24, 2023.

wolf camouflaged with background
Oak, new mother to seven pups.
Adeyha, new father.

There are many hurdles still to come, but Senior Director of Animal Care Sherry Samuels assured that parents and pups are healthy, and regular monitoring is scheduled over the next few weeks. The public may catch glimpses of the pups in late May, although Red Wolves tend to be reserved around crowds and loud noises. Museum staff will be on hand throughout the summer to assist visitors in respectfully observing the wolf family.

“This summer promises to be filled with excitement as we watch this family grow,” Samuels said. “Patience and quiet observation will be key when observing our new pups.”

This milestone marks the first successful breeding of Red Wolves at the Museum in five years. Since receiving its first Red Wolf in November 1992, the Museum has witnessed litters in 1993, 2002, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2024. Once thriving as a top predator across the southeastern United States, the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) is now critically endangered, with fewer than 300 individuals under human care and in the wild combined. There are 50 partner facilities, 22 of which are institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and are dedicated to protecting and increasing the American Red Wolf population. The Red Wolves housed at the Museum play a vital role in the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program, the Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) initiative, which is led by the AZA.

Recommendations for this family’s future will be made at this summer’s American Red Wolf SAFE planning meeting. The Animal Care Team will continue monitoring the health of the pups and the adult wolf pair, ensuring their well-being through regular check-ups and veterinary care.

To learn more about the Museum’s work with Red Wolf conservation, please click here.