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A woman and child stare down at a red wolf from the exhibit overlook
Explore | Exhibit

Explore the Wild: Red Wolves

Located in Explore the Wild, the Museum’s wolf habitat features two red wolves (Canis rufus), who serve as important ambassadors for the Red Wolf Species Survival Program. Ringed by a former rock quarry wall, the enclosure provides a naturalistic backdrop and vertical climbing challenge. A pool with a waterfall and wolf den create places where the wolves can cool off and retreat.

Meet Our Wolves

Closeup of a male red wolf named Ellerbe.

Ellerbe

Ellerbe (studbook number 2246) is smaller and his fur is lighter and grayer than his brother's. He has a faint, white cheek patch.

Because our wolves are part of the Species Survival Program, we refer to them by their studbook numbers as well as by their names.
Closeup of a male red wolf named Eno..

Eno

Eno (studbook number 2247) is a little larger and darker than his brother. His fur has more rufus, or red, on his legs, neck, and back of ears.

Both brothers were born at the Museum on April 20, 2018.

Caring for Red Wolves

The Museum’s wolves eat a special variety of canine chow as well as whole prey items that are scattered throughout the habitat. 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 allows animals to express natural behaviors. For our wolves, this might mean adding bedding from other animal habitats for a new scent experience or introducing animal antlers for chewing.

Close up of a red wolf holding a white rat in its mouth.

Red Wolf Conservation

The red wolves living at the Museum are part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), a collection of zoos and nature centers around the country that are committed to the conservation of red wolves. The SSPs make breeding and non-breeding recommendations to maintain genetic diversity and work on projects that involve education, veterinary care, and field research. 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. Though there remain some red wolves in the wild, gunshot, vehicle strikes, and habitat loss continue to threaten their survival. The red wolf is one of our planet’s most endangered species.

Closeup of three red wolf pups being held by a member of the Museum's animal care team