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Mexican Wolf Biography #1

F5, Nina: A reproductive cliffhanger

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Nina was the only female among the five Mexican wolves captured in Mexico by Roy McBride. She was caught in the state of Durango in March 1978, taken to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and given the studbook number 5. Nina was pregnant when captured and delivered a litter of pups in captivity on May 8, 1978. Her wild mate was never captured.

Unfortunately, the sole female pup in Nina’s 1978 litter died within days of her birth. Nina failed to conceive in 1979 and 1980. By this time she was approximately eight years old. Scientists feared she was nearing the end of her reproductive life. They decided to transfer Nina to the secluded acres of the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center in Missouri and pair her with Maximilian (M11), an unrelated wolf caught in Chihuahua in 1980, in an attempt to encourage conception.

The pairing succeeded just in time. Nina delivered a litter of four pups, three of them females, on May 20, 1981, six weeks after the death of their father, Maximilian. Although Nina went on to bear pups in 1982, 1983, and 1984, those litters were sired by her own offspring, Don Diego (M2). If the pairing with Maximilian had failed, his genetic contribution to the population would have been lost forever.