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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), ambassadors for a critically endangered species that was once common in North Carolina. Ringed by a former rock quarry wall, the enclosure provides a naturalistic backdrop and vertical climbing challenge. A pool with a waterfall pool 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

Red wolves were once common in North Carolina, but now fewer than 500 individuals survive. This Museum is part of a nationwide program of zoos and nature centers working to rebuild the species. Since 1993, twenty-three red wolf pups–including Eno and Ellerbe–have been born here. Each pup adds to the genetic diversity of the species.

Why do red wolves need our help?

Red wolves were once a top predator throughout the southeastern United States. As humans claimed more land for farms and towns, they saw wolves as a threat and drove them out. The red wolf is now critically endangered; North Carolina is the only place on earth they can be found in the wild.

Scientists, government workers, and citizen advocates are working together to bring wolves back. A small wild population lives at North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Others live in zoos and nature centers around the country. Human activity caused the red wolves to become endangered, but humans help can rebuild their population.

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