Anna’s Legacy

Your symbolic adoption of Anna, the Matriarch of Mexican wolves, helps us ensure the survival of her species.  


Anna’s Story

Every once in a while, someone truly extraordinary comes into our lives. One who inspires us and influences our lives in ways that stay with us long after they leave.

In the history of Mexican wolf recovery, one there is one who will always stand apart from the pack as the Matriarch of Mexican Wolves. Anna. Here is her story.


Anna | The Matriarch of Mexican Wolves

Delivered from the Brink of Extinction

Anna was the only surviving pup of the pairing of two legendary wolves. Santa Ana, her father, was one of the last pure Mexican wolves from the Ghost Ranch lineage. He was recovered after the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980, making him the most genetically important animal of his species at the time.

While Anna certainly favored her magnificent father in her looks, she no doubt inherited as much of her alpha instincts and leadership skills from her also legendary mother, Tanamara, of the McBride lineage.

Earth Day

Anna was born on Earth Day, April 22, 2001. Despite her efforts as a new mother, Tanamara lost two of three pups from this litter – the last sired by 13-year-old Santa Anna, who passed away later that year. Wisely, the decision was made to hand-rear the third pup, Anna, knowing how important she was to the recovery of the species. Little did anyone know just how important she would be.

Because she had been hand-reared, Anna was not releasable in the wild. Still, her role in the wild is unmatched. Anna made history by giving birth to 41 pups in four separate litters of record-breaking numbers. Several of her offspring live in the wild, aiding the recovery of her species. Others remain in our care at the Center as part of our Saving a Species breeding program.

Continuing a Legacy

Anna’s stories abound to this day, from her skills as a mother to her unshakable role as the leader of our pack. Anna passed away one day before her 14th birthday. As we said our goodbyes, we left her with a promise – that her legacy will live on.

Through your symbolic adoption of Anna, you can help us pen this next chapter in endangered wolf recovery. Share Anna’s story, invite friends to follow our page or become members, consider adopting Anna in your name or on behalf of a strong woman or matriarch in your life, or by making your own promise to be an advocate for wolves and wild places whose ecosystems depend on them.

And to our bold, beautiful, beloved Anna, our promise to you remains. Your story continues on.


A National Geographic Spotlight and a Betty White Encounter

Anna had a presence that is hard to put into words, but something about her not only made her a favorite among visitors, but seemed to cast a spell over those who met her. National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore chose Anna to represent Mexican wolves for his book and traveling exhibit The Photo Ark, with images of Anna projected onto 33 floors of the Empire State Building – a first in New York history.

She also caught the attention of one of the world’s most beloved celebrities and well-known animal advocates, Betty White. Our Center’s Director of Development and Marketing, Rachel Broom, recalls Betty and Anna sharing what seemed like a profound moment, then Anna disappearing, and one by one, bringing each of her newborn pups out to meet Betty, a long-time friend of Endangered Wolf Center founders Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom fame and his wife, Carol.

“It was the most beautiful thing,” Rachel recalls. “Something must have moved Betty White, because that night at our fundraiser, she announced she would donate $2500 to name one of Anna’s puppies, and asked who else was in.” Our puppy naming program, inspired by that encounter, has since raised more than $250,000 to support our Center’s work.

© Joel Sartore


Anna's Legacy Adoption

Anna not only inspired the lives of those who met her, she changed the course of her species’ future, earning her the name the Matriarch of Mexican Wolves. Your symbolic adoption to continue Anna’s legacy includes a 12-month membership to the Endangered Wolf Center.