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Blog Animals

A step in the right direction

Two wolves carrying a stick


Eno and Ellerbe, our three-year-old red wolves, are part of a nationwide program — the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) — to help protect and preserve their critically endangered species. Fewer than 270 red wolves are left worldwide, and, until this week, as few as seven remained in the wild.

But this was a big week for red wolf conservation, as eight red wolves from the SSP population were released into the wild in North Carolina within the approximately 1.7-million acre Red Wolf Recovery Area. Four of these wolves were pups born at an SSP cooperating facility and were cross-fostered to a wild red wolf. A federal court ruling in January helped reopen this vital part of the conservation plan to try and save the red wolves. It’s not enough to breed red wolves in captivity; the species’ long-term survival will also hinge on their return and recovery in the wild.

Since 1992, the Museum has played a significant role in the mission of red wolf conservation. We’ve been home to more than 50 red wolves and welcomed five litters of pups.

Six wolf pups
Red wolves playing
Two red wolves
Red wolves at the Museum
A sleeping red wolf
Red wolves at the Museum


We work with other zoos and museums across the U.S. to help promote the welfare and recovery of the species. Sometimes that’s been hard, as we’ve had to say goodbye to wolves who were born here but moved on to other facilities. But it’s also been a source of pride and joy as we’ve been able to celebrate the births of wolf pups right here in Durham over the years. Millions of visitors have been introduced to the red wolves here at the Museum and become more aware of the challenges they face. We also take pride in knowing that, with the support of visitors and members, we’re doing our part to help save the red wolves.

The red wolf remains one of our planet’s most endangered species and continues to be at risk. Gunshots, vehicle strikes, and habitat loss have reduced the wild population numbers and continue to threaten their survival.

But this week was a small step in the right direction.

Learn more about red wolf conservation