Rocky, M681, was one of the first two Mexican wolf puppies born in the wild New Mexico in over 50 years. His mother, F624, was a wild-born daughter of Pipestem alpha female Zuni (F191), and a granddaughter of Francisco (M60) and Sheila (F37). After her pack was recaptured and translocated due to nuisance behavior and conflicts with livestock, F624 dispersed from her family and was recaptured for being outside the recovery area boundary.
She was re-released pregnant in eastern Arizona on March 17, 2001, with two male wolves, one of which had fathered her pups. The trio was known as the Wildcat Pack. Sadly, both males abandoned F624 after she denned in a location in New Mexico outside of the recovery area. Her den was far from a water source and surrounded by numerous cattle. In April she delivered two puppies, a male and a female. F624 was unable to properly feed and care for her tiny family without any help.
On June 10, 2001, project personnel intervened in an attempt to move F624 and her pups to an area with fewer cattle. They found one pup, a female, already dead. The male puppy, mp681, was severely dehydrated and malnourished. Both F624 and mp681 were taken into captivity.
Little Rocky, whose name was a winning entry in a children’s puppy-naming contest sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity, was taken to Albuquerque for veterinary treatment. He was moved to the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center near St. Louis, Missouri, in late June. There the staff carefully integrated him into the little family group with Francisco (M60) and Anna (F685).
His ordeal in the wild left Rocky with nutritional cataracts. After surgery and a period of convalescence at the St. Louis Zoo, he was returned in mid-October to the enclosure at Wild Canid (now the Endangered Wolf Center), where he was reunited with Anna and Francisco. Rocky developed a strong bond with Francisco, following him and imitating his every move. Although his extremely poor eyesight has prevented Rocky’s re-release into the wild, he still lives at the Wild Canid Center, enjoying the companionship of other wolves.
Anna, meanwhile, was growing up in a strong foster family, bonding with other wolves and learning behaviors that would serve her well when she became a mother.
Photograph of Anna courtesy of Endangered Wolf Center