On April 20, 2008, the Wolf Conservation Center family got a whole lot bigger! Mexican gray wolf F613 quietly had six pups in her den on Earth day. These pups were not only adorable, they’re also a contribution to the recovery of their species.
Curator Rebecca Bose give one of the pups its one-week checkup. At this age, pups are still blind, their eyes not opening until about 10 days of age. Since these wolves are a part of the Mexican wolf Species Survival Plan, it was important that they received as little human contact as possible so they retained their natural wariness of people.
WCC staff became reacquainted with the litter when the pups were two months old. This is also when the pups were officially given their alphanumeric “names.”
Also at this age, beginning at about 5 weeks old, the pups emerge from the den to explore the world around them. Because the tiny explorers cannot go far, adult wild wolves will travel less during this season, keeping most activities focused on the den or rendezvous site. All ears and paws, the pups romp, play, bite, and tackle one another. This of course is great fun for the siblings, but it’s also a way for the pups to sharpen important skills that they’ll require as adults and lets them establish which sibling will be dominant in the pack hierarchy. By the time the pups celebrated their first birthday in 2009, one male yearling was clearly his father’s right hand man, shadowing every move of his handsome roll model.
All grown up now, this litter resides with their thirteen-year-old mother, F613. They’ll be celebrating their 5th birthday on Earth Day. I know what I want them to receive as a gift – an opportunity to bring their ancestral habitat back to balance.
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Photo credit: Wolf Conservation Center