Meet Lucky, the first cross-fostered maned wolf pup

Lucky is making news – and history – as the first-ever cross-fostered maned wolf.

The Endangered Wolf Center recently teamed up with the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute and Zoo Boise in what has become the first ever attempt to foster a maned wolf.

It’s a success story born out of peril. Born May 5 to a maned wolf at Zoo Boise who was unable to raise her litter, “Lucky” was the only surviving pup. Zoo Boise hand-raised her for about a week, hoping to soon foster her into another maned wolf family. Because of our expertise in raising wolf pups, the Endangered Wolf Center got the call.

Regina Mossotti, EWC Director of Animal Care and Conservation, flew to Boise to pick up Lucky and took her to the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia for a foster opportunity with a maned wolf at their facility. But cross-fostering is no guarantee, and after an unsuccessful attempt, Regina brought Lucky home to the EWC.

Already she was living up to her name. As luck would have it, a domestic female dog with a litter close in age and size to Lucky was made available to the EWC. Domestic dogs are actually great foster dog candidates because their milk is healthier than formula for pups (which was especially important as Lucky was under weight). Plus, dogs speak a closer language to maned wolves than humans do, which will help in the transition when she is introduced to the adult maned wolves at the EWC. Jacqui, a Labrador mix, bonded with Lucky immediately, nursed and cared for her as one of her own pups.

Nicknamed for her survivor instincts, Lucky had grown from less than a pound to 11 pounds at 11 weeks, and continues to grow and thrive with her foster family. Her size is no measure for her big personality. “She’s a strong pup,” Regina boasts. “She’s a fighter – and a survivor. And so intelligent, too. She outsmarts her foster puppy brothers and sisters, figuring out puzzles and showing a ton of curiosity.”

Lucky for us, her personality makes Lucky the perfect ambassador for her species. Never before has a maned wolf been available for human interaction – up close and personal – to educate the public about the species. She and the staff at EWC are happy to tell her story, which is not only heartwarming, but an example of the critical, cutting-edge conservation efforts at the EWC in the name of preserving and protecting the species.

To that end, soon Lucky will be introduced to Nopal, the male maned wolf at the EWC with the hope he will bond with her, help raise her and show her the ropes when it comes to being a maned wolf.

To schedule an interview with Lucky, at the Endangered Wolf Center or at your location, call 636-938-5900.

Learn more about Maned Wolves