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Mexican Wolf Pups Separated From Parents In An Effort To Save The Species

May 13, 2013 12:16 PM EDT
"El Lobo"
Taken shortly after birth, this pup is fed through a bottle as it has been separated from its mother.
(Photo : Wolf Conservation Center)

In a race to preserve their kind, scientists whisked two newborn Mexican gray wolves from their mother via private jet to a new home at Indiana’s Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden where they will be raised by foster wolf parents who have successfully raised pups before, according to the New York Post.

The brothers’ mother, known simply as No. F749, previously gave birth to a litter of eight; however, despite scientists’ care to stay out of the mothers’ and pups’ way, all of them died for reasons that remain unclear.

“It’s such an emotional and sensitive decision to pluck these pups away from their mother,” Maggie Howell, who runs the Wolf Conservation Center where the wolves were born, told the newspaper. “I think at some level you just have to hope that this is something bigger than their pack.”

Though they aren’t aware of it, the pups are a part of the most endangered type of wolf in the world; in fact, according to the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (MWSSP), by 1980 the last five known wolves were captured and relocated to facilities to begin a breeding program.

One of the group’s goals, which are largely influenced by previous predator reintroduction programs such as the red wolf in North Carolina and the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountains, is to release approximately 15 pairs of family groups over a period of five years into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area located in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

Furthermore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Species Survival Plan requires a minimum of 240 wolves in captivity at all times in order to “ensure the security of the species in captivity, while still being able to produce surplus animals for reintroduction,” as stated on their website.

Currently, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there are a total of 340 wolves in captivity with a total of 40 having been reintroduced into the Apache National Forest in southeastern Arizona.

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