clock 10 am – 5 pm

RELEASE: Museum of Life and Science Celebrates Birth of Critically Endangered Red Wolf Pups

For Immediate Release – April 24, 2024

Media Contact:
Ro Rode, Director of Marketing and Communications
(919) 220-5429 x361

Photos of Red Wolf pups

DURHAM, NC — The Museum of Life and Science is thrilled to announce the birth of critically endangered Red Wolf pups, a beacon of hope for the species and a significant milestone in our conservation efforts.

On Sunday, April 21, the Museum’s five-year-old female Red Wolf welcomed a litter of four male and three female pups. After a thorough examination by the Museum’s Animal Care Team, all seven pups were determined to be in good health.

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 41 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.

The breeding pair, female wolf Oak (#2304) and male wolf Adeyha (#2080), were identified as a high-value pairing in the summer of 2023 to maintain genetic diversity within the Red Wolf population. Both Oak and Adeyha are first-time parents. 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 to pair with Oak in October 2023.

Sherry Samuels, the Museum’s Senior Director of Animal Care and Red Wolf steering committee team member, expressed excitement over the news.

“This is truly thrilling for the species and the Museum,” Samuels said. “As we face challenges in the wild population, institutions within Red Wolf SAFE, like ours, hold a significant responsibility. Each pup born is crucial for the species’ survival and offers hope for the broader Red Wolf population.”

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, and 2019.

There are many hurdles still to come, but 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.”

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.

About the Red Wolf

In addition to the cinnamon coat highlights that lend them their name, Red Wolves are visibly smaller and more slender than gray wolves. Adult Red Wolves typically weigh 45–80 pounds and can live up to 15 years under human care but rarely longer than seven years in the wild.

Once a top predator throughout the southeastern United States, the Red Wolf is now categorized as critically endangered. To protect the remaining population, a managed breeding program was established in 1973 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service 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. Although their numbers have grown, gunshots, vehicle strikes, and habitat loss have reduced the wild population and continue to threaten their survival. The Red Wolf is one of our planet’s most endangered species and continues to be at risk.

About the Museum of Life and Science

Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Our 84-acre campus includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits. Our interactive experiences include Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, Hideaway Woods, Into the Mist, Earth Moves, and Aerospace, which features one of the largest collections of Apollo-era NASA artifacts in the state. The Museum is also an AZA-accredited zoo, home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves, and more than 60 species of live animals. For more than 75 years, the Museum has upheld its ongoing commitment to the communities of Durham, the Triangle, and North Carolina. To learn more, visit