The Wolf Conservation Center's educational impact just got a whole lot broader! Thanks to a partnership with WildEarth.tv, the WCC is bringing an unlimited number of visitors into the private lives of four breeding pairs of critically endangered wolves via unobtrusive cameras in and around anticipated den sites. …
Now that breeding season has come to a close, it's time to watch and wait to see which of four breeding pairs (two pair of Mexican wolves and two pair of Red wolves) will be winners of THE MATING GAME! The winning couples will be celebrating their pups come this month or next and our supporting “audience” (that means you!) can help us keep an eye on all four of our wolf-couple “contestants!” Each pair’s enclosure houses two cameras: one inside their den and another outside. This means that over the coming weeks, you will be given the opportunity to watch for some promising signs of parenthood
and even possible births!
Mexican Gray Wolves M470 and F749
Every summer the Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group for the Mexican gray wolf determine which wolves should be bred each year by using software developed for the population management of endangered species. Although the use of software in the game of love sounds creepy, this method of match-making helps create the most genetically diverse Mexican wolf population possible. Mexican Wolves M740 and F749 don't realize this, but scientists all over North America are crossing their fingers that will prove fruitful. M740 and F749 are a vital pair with the lowest inbreeding coefficient in the MWSSP!
M740 is nine years old and has called the WCC home since his transfer from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, IL in October of 2009. He was paired with Mexican wolf F810 for the past two years but the couple failed to produce pups. So last fall, we moved F810 to live with her brothers, M804 and M807, and introduced F749 to M740 for the very first time. F749 is the same age and joined the WCC family in December of 2009 after living at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico.
Mexican Gray Wolves M805 and F837
The WCC was first introduced to F837 in November of 2004 when she and her three sisters were transferred from the Minnesota Zooogical Garden to the WCC as yearlings. Although the wolves are identified by alphanumeric labels – F836, F837, F838, and F839, we called the sisters "the Minnesota Girls."
When the Minnesota Girls arrived, we were relatively new to the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Program and were honored to be a part of the recovery effort. Less than a year later and with much jubilation we received the most exciting news: F837's littermate, F838, was chosen for release to the wild Southwest! Two years later another sibling, F836, also got "the call of the wild." What a thrill to offer these two sisters a life without boundaries and fence-lines, and the task of bringing an ecosystem back to balance. Unfortunately, just a few months after each of the wolves' adventures had begun, both F838 and F836 were illegally killed. Each wolf had only a few months to enjoy their rightful place in the wild. But a few months in the wild was the biggest gift we could have ever given to the girls from Minnesota. If not for some heartless criminals, they could have survived and contributed to the recovery of their species.
F837 and her mate, M805, currently live in the WCC's Lobo Exhibit and together they help visitors better understand the importance of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and the significance of the special wolves on our property that people are not allowed to behold. The two eight-year-old lobos have bonded with one another nicely and they share something in common – each have a littermate who was given the gift of freedom six years ago this July. M805's brother, Mexican wolf M806, was "Minnesota Girl" F838's original mate! After F838's tragic death, M806 started a new family called the Bluestem Pack and has been thriving in the wild as the alpha male ever since.
This past breeding season marked the first opportunity for both wolves to breed. Fingers crossed that they have beginner's luck!