Mexican Wolf Biography #2
Francisco and Sheila were a prolific pair of Mexican gray wolves often called the Adam and Eve of the captive breeding program. Along with their many offspring, they have also been called Freedom’s First Family.
Sheila (studbook number F37) was born in 1984 at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque. Her father, known as Shy One (M10), was a member of the first litter of pups born in captivity to the only female Mexican wolf, Nina (F5) among the five captured in the wild, shortly after her capture in the state of Durango, Mexico, in 1978. Sheila’s mother, Cecilia (F14), was born at the Wild Canid Center in 1981, in Nina's first litter successfully conceived and born in captivity.
Francisco (M60), born in 1988, was the son of Don Diego (M2), a wild-caught wolf who was the probable offspring of Nina and an unknown wild sire. Francisco’s mother, Sylvia (F13), was another member of that historic 1981 litter. Until the birth of Sylvia and Cecilia, their mother, Nina, had produced no surviving female pups.
Francisco and Sheila, paired at the Wild Canid Center, produced their first litter of five pups in 1992. Maska (M131), a pup from their second litter, was destined to be one of the first lobos released into the wild in Arizona in 1998, as alpha male of the Hawk’s Nest Pack. Their third litter included Rio (M166), alpha male of the Campbell Blue pack, also released in 1998. Rio fathered the first Mexican wolf pup born in the wild in United States in over 70 years. Unfortunately, the pup was lost after his mother, Dark Eyes, fell to a poacher’s bullet.
Four more of Francisco and Sheila’s offspring spent time in the wild, including Aspen (F168) and Zita (F169), Paquito (M190), and Zuni (F191). Several of these wolves left progeny in the wild. They, in turn, have found mates and produced pups of their own. Best known of Francisco and Sheila’s grandpups was the elegant “poster wolf,” Brünnhilde (F511), daughter of Rio and Dark Eyes, and alpha female of the Francisco Pack, which was named for her famous grandfather.