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Anna is a very special Mexican gray wolf with a very rich back story – to understand her unique contributions to the Mexican wolf captive breeding and recovery program we need to go back to 1973 when it all began…
The United States Department of Agriculture had active wolf bounties that included the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) up until 1973. The Mexican gray was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973 but by 1980 the Mexican gray wolf was considered extinct in the wild. In that same year Roy T. McBride captured the last Mexican gray wolves, four males and one pregnant female. One of the males was found to be the son of the captured female. The three remaining males and the female became the founders of the Mexican gray wolf captive breeding program. Their descendents became known as the McBride lineage. Two other lineages, the Ghost Ranch and the Aragon, were added into the program in 1995 after genetic testing revealed that they were pure Mexican gray wolves. This added four more founders to the population, increasing the vital genetic diversity of the species.
Santa Ana came to the Endangered Wolf Center in 1995 as one of the original Ghost Ranch animals brought into the breeding program. He was considered extremely valuable and was placed into a breeding pair in 1997, but by 2000 he and his mate had still not produced any pups. In the fall of 2000 Santa Ana was placed with a new mate, Tanamara, but by this time he was almost thirteen years old and had developed arthritis. It was generally felt that he had already reached the end of his breeding years.
Tanamara, a McBride female, was born at the Endangered Wolf Center in May of 1998. She had been placed into a breeding situation in 2000, but she and her mate Saric failed to produce any pups. After Saric passed away in June 2000 due to renal failure, Tanamara was placed with Santa Ana. The pair was not counted on to breed, but it was hoped for. Amazingly, on April 22, 2001, Tanamara gave birth to a litter of three pups. Tanamara was a first time mother, and despite her best efforts she lost two of the pups. The reluctant decision was made to pull and hand-rear the final pup. Because this was Santa Ana’s first and probably only litter, the little female was the most genetically valuable pup born that year. It had been nearly a decade since any Mexican gray wolf pups had been hand reared, but this pup was simply too important to the recovery program to risk losing her. The decision to pull the pup turned out to be a justified one when Santa Ana sadly passed away on July 26, 2001.