Press Release: Historic Pup Foster Efforts During Pandemic

Posted by on May 27, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Press Release: Historic Pup Foster Efforts During Pandemic


ST. LOUIS, MO, May 22, 2020: On April 17 and May 6, 2020 the Endangered Wolf Center flew nine Mexican wolf pups to Arizona to be fostered by three separate wild packs in New Mexico and Arizona. This historic collaborative effort between the Endangered Wolf Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners represents the first time nine pups born in captivity have been “adopted out” from one facility in a season. These nine pups greatly contributed to making 2020 a record-breaking foster season; 20 pups total were placed in the wild this spring from five different zoos and conservation facilities, a 66% increase over the previous highest year. Since captive-to-wild foster efforts started in 2016, 50 captive pups have been placed into wild dens, more than half of which were born at the Endangered Wolf Center.

Why It’s Important

“The Mexican wolf is one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world, and pushing fosters forward is vital to saving this amazing wolf,” said Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center. “As always, this foster was a great example of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Species Survival Plan and the states working together to seize a unique opportunity to help Mexican wolves.”

Who Was Involved?

Collaborating partners in the foster project included the Endangered Wolf Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquarium Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Fish and Game, USDA Forest Service, USDA Wildlife Services, and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

What Is a Foster?

Fostering is a conservation strategy that takes wolf pups born in one litter and places them with another litter in the wild with the hope that the wolf mother will adopt the new additions as her own – the goal of which is to increase genetic diversity. With fewer than 200 Mexican wolves left in the wild, these nine pups born at the Endangered Wolf Center represent vital new genetics needed for a critically endangered population. Mexican wolves in the SSP’s captive population have more genetic diversity than the wild population. The foster technique also provides a unique opportunity for captive born pups to be raised by wild parents.

These efforts are important because the Mexican wolf is a keystone species, which means that the ecosystem and the plants and animals in it rely on the wolves to keep it in balance. This helps reduce the spread of disease and creates a healthier environment for animals, plants and humans.

“Understanding how human health is linked to our ecosystem’s health shines a light on the importance of these foster efforts,” said Virginia Busch, CEO of the Endangered Wolf Center. “Now more than ever we need to prioritize restoring damaged ecosystems, saving endangered species and protecting our remaining wildlife and wildlands.”

What It Takes

Managing the shifting landscape during the pandemic made partnering with individuals crucial in order to overcome challenging logistics. This year’s operation almost did not occur due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the team came together quickly to develop a strategic and thoughtful protocol to keep the humans and the animals protected during the conservation efforts.

Overcoming the logistics makes the success of the project all the more remarkable. “I am proud of our Center’s role in this historic effort,” said Mark Cross, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center. “This foster season was the definition of teamwork. Collaboration is key to the Endangered Wolf Center’s mission and helps to ensure conservation successes like this year’s fosters continue.”

Extreme mountainous terrain and other logistics make fostering challenging, and the timing has to be just right. Wild and captive litters have to be born within a few days of one another, and the transfer from managed care to the wild has to occur before the pups are fourteen days old.

“Wolves give birth any time between early April to mid-May, but timing of the birth of wild pups has to be within a just a few days of our pups…to say nothing of the logistics,” said Mossotti. “There are weather considerations, flights and travel, personnel, locating wild dens, securing funding—all pieces of the puzzle have to come together very quickly to get this accomplished.” 

“Being wild is hard, and the successful recovery of an endangered species is a constant challenge,” said Busch. Efforts such as this foster are examples of how conservation for the Mexican wolf is moving in a positive direction – and the Endangered Wolf Center is proud to play a role in it.”

The Pups Have Names

The nine pups born at the EWC in April (male pups “Jose”, “Bandelier” and “Rusty” and female pups “Regina”, “Nora”, “Sidonia”, “JeanTabaka”, “Kachina” and “Grace”) were placed into the Elkhorn, San Mateo and Dark Canyon Packs.

Aircraft transportation was provided by LightHawk, Luxco, Aero Charter and Ray Van de Riet. Dr. Rhiannon McKnight and Dr. Tammy Smith performed veterinary exams and services.

Veterinary equipment and carriers were provided Chewy, Patterson Veterinary, and CareVet.

Sedgwick County Zoo (Wichita, KS), California Wolf Center (Julian, CA), Phoenix Zoo (Phoenix, AZ) and Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility (La Joya, NM) also fostered pups into the wild this year.

About the Endangered Wolf Center

Founded in 1971 by Marlin and Carol Perkins, the Endangered Wolf Center has worked to preserve and protect Mexican wolves, American red wolves and other wild canid species, through carefully managed breeding, research, reintroduction and inspiring education programs. The EWC is a non-profit organization located near St. Louis, Mo.

About Mexican Wolves

Mexican wolves are a critically endangered wolf native to the Southwestern United States. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, extermination programs and habitat loss have led to a dramatic decline. Scientists learned later how important these keystone species were to keeping an ecosystem healthy and in the late 1970s the last remaining wild Mexican wolves were captured in an effort to save them. This meant they were extinct in the wild. The seven remaining Mexican wolves that were brought into managed care started the breeding and recovery program. In 1998, the first Mexican wolves were released back into the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. That population has grown to a minimum of 163 Mexican wolves today, mostly found in Arizona and New Mexico. Learn more and follow the wild packs at

“Tails” from the Wild – Mexican Wolf Survey

Posted by on Mar 25, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on “Tails” from the Wild – Mexican Wolf Survey

“Tails” from the Wild – Mexican Wolf Survey

In January, some of our staff participated in important conservation efforts to survey the Mexican wolf population in the wild.

The main goal? To see if the population for this endangered wolf is growing. For our team, we were hoping to learn whether or not our cross-foster efforts of the 2019 season were successful.

Regina Mossotti (left) and Rachel Crosby (right) with the Interagency Field Team (IFT) as the IFT prepares to do an aerial survey of the Mexican wolf population in New Mexico and Arizona.


Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center, shares a highlight of their journey:

“On the 3rd day of the survey, an uncollared, unidentified male Mexican wolf was darted, captured, and brought to the processing team to check for a microchip. We were excited when we heard the microchip reader “bing” because we knew he was a fostered pup.

We discovered that it was Max, one of the pups born at the Endangered Wolf Center and fostered with his four brothers and sisters into the Freiborn Pack in New Mexico. To see in person that this groundbreaking foster effort was successful and that he was healthy and thriving adult in the wild was an incredible moment.

The collaboration between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS), Interagency Field Team, and the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (Mexican Wolf SSP) is making an impact and helping to save this critically endangered wolf – working together is what it’s all about.”

Rachel Crosby (left) with Alison Greenleaf (FWS-middle) and Regina Mossotti (right) with a sedated Mexican wolf. The team is drawing blood to determine the genetics and health of the wolf.


During the survey, wolves are tranquilized, examined for health assessments, and collared. The collar helps to track and learn about the wolves so that we can ensure that the conservation efforts are working.

We are proud of our collaborative efforts to save this species. As the saying goes, “It takes a village”. Saving species requires innovation, collaboration, and dedication – and lots of it. 


History of Mexican Wolf Conservation

Mexican wolves are the most genetically distinct and the smallest subspecies of gray wolf. They are also the most critically endangered subspecies of gray wolf in the world.

The last Mexican wolves were brought in from the wild in the late 1970s to start a captive breeding program (which would later become the Mexican Wolf SSP.)

Re-introduction to the wild began in 1998 with the release of 11 Mexican wolves in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) along the border of Arizona and New Mexico. Since then, USFWS has performed the annual helicopter survey to monitor and evaluate the population.


Rachel Crosby tracking wild Mexican wolves in the Gila National Forest.

Innovation to Save Species

In 2015, the Endangered Wolf Center worked with the USFWS team to implement cross-fostering of captive-born pups to the wild as part of a new, innovative way to aid the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program.


Raise the roof – I get to grow up WILD!


Fostering is a technique where wolf pups from one litter are placed with another litter. The wolf mother will adopt the new, little additions as her own.

The result?

This technique not only increases the population size in the wild but also increases genetic diversity.

For small endangered species populations, genetic diversity is a critical part of the conservation strategy to ensure the animals are healthy.

Fostering is also a wonderful way to have experienced wild parents raise and teach the pups the skills needed to survive (i.e. how to stay away from people, how to hunt, how to protect their territory, etc.).

After all, it’s hard to be wild!

In 2016, the first successful captive-born pups fostered into a wild litter was performed by EWC staff.  Since then, 30 (18 from the EWC) pups born in the captive population have been fostered into the wild.

In 2019, a wild wolf parent that was once a fostered pup (born at Brookfield Zoo) grew up to become the alpha male of the Prime Canyon Pack in the wild and is now parenting his own foster pup.

Regina Mossotti also assists other SSP organizations fostering pups from their facility into the wild by serving as the USFWS/MW SSP Pup Foster Advisor. 

Cross-fostering is truly a win-win!

This year’s annual survey was especially rewarding for our staff because they saw that Max not only survived to adulthood, but he is healthy and became an alpha with a female forming his own pack.

Regina Mossotti with Max, after they read his microchip and discovered that he is a pup cross-fostered into the wild from the Endangered Wolf Center.

Yes, there were many happy tears shed.

Survey Results Are In –
Good News from the Wild in 2019

Wild Mexican wolf paw prints in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

FWS published on that “Mexican wolf count shows the population of Mexican wolves has increased by 24% since last year, raising the total number of wolves in the wild to a minimum of 163 animals.”

While there is still much work to be done to conserve the Mexican wolf, these survey results bring inspiration and hope to a species that is truly coming back from the brink of extinction.

As we continue to gather data and experience with this innovative conservation technique, we hope these “tails” of success can impact the conservation of other critically endangered species, like the American red wolf, in the future.

Become a Wildlife Hero

Want to get involved to save Mexican wolves? Join our pack!

When you symbolically adopt our pack of Mexican wolves, we’ll keep you PUPdated on any births and cross fosters into the wild.

You will make a direct impact on conservation and truly become a wildlife hero, helping us continue these innovative and historic conservation efforts.


COVID-19 Update

Posted by on Mar 16, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on COVID-19 Update

Announcement: The Endangered Wolf Center will temporarily close to the public until further notice as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). All public and private events, as well as educational programs, are postponed and the Endangered Wolf Center will reevaluate plans to reopen within the coming weeks.
If you have already purchased your ticket to an upcoming event that is postponed, your reservation will automatically be transferred to the new date. If the event is canceled or you cannot attend on the new date, please call our Center for a refund. For refunds and any other questions or concerns, please call 636-938-5900.

Please watch this short message above from our Director of Animal Care and Conservation, Regina Mossotti, for more details about the measures we are taking to keep our staff and endangered animals safe and healthy.

If you want be a wildlife hero and do more for endangered species during this trying time, consider becoming a member and joining our pack! Learn more right here.

Learn About Membership

Puppy Shower

Posted by on Mar 3, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Puppy Shower

Due to current circumstances involving COVID-19, our Puppy Shower in now a virtual event! Same event, but enjoyed from your own home through a zoom link, which will be sent upon registration.

Join us as celebrate the cutest part of conservation – puppies!

You’ll meet one of our smallest residents, Daisy the fennec fox.

Then, play fun games as you learn about all things PUP – from our innovative ways to get pups into the wild to artificial insemination success stories!

You’ll learn how we care for these canid pups as they grow, learn & play!

Our wolf mothers are experts at caring for their young, but our Animal Care team needs supplies to ensure these endangered pups receive the best care possible.

That is why all proceeds from this event will help us prepare for puppy season.
We will also be accepting gifts from our “registry” that every (animal keeper of a) new mom needs!
Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to win attendance prizes.
Don’t miss this unique way to celebrate pup season with your animal-loving family and friends!
The cost of this event is:
$13/child (ages 4-14)
Member discounts:
$14 adult member

$11/child member (ages 4-14)


4th International African Painted Dog Conference

Posted by on Jan 8, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on 4th International African Painted Dog Conference


Due to current circumstances in the United States, we have rescheduled the International African Painted Dog Conference. The new dates have been set for next year, May 10th-13th 2021. Thank you for your understanding.

The Endangered Wolf Center is proud to host the 4th International African Painted Dog Conference, May 10th-13th, 2021 at Missouri Department of Conservation Powder Valley Conference Center. 

This conference brings together wildlife managers, biologists, conservationists and zoo professionals from around the world to enhance and improve the care of African painted dogs in managed care and to assist in field conservation in the wild.

African painted dogs are a vital species to ecosystem health, yet their numbers have dramatically declined across the African continent for the last several decades. The decline is due to poaching, accidental deaths (motor-vehicle strikes, caught in snares meant for other species, etc.), diseases transmitted by domestic dogs, habitat loss and lack of food resources.

The goal of this conference is to convene experts in the field with the focus of sharing knowledge, identifying conservation and research needs and working together to solve pressing issues to help save this endangered species.

Keynote Speaker: Chris Johns


Prior to receiving a Pollner Professorship at the University of Montana’s School of Journalism, Chris Johns was the National Geographic Beyond Yellowstone Program Leader.  Before that role, he served as Chief Content Officer, overseeing the expression of National Geographic’s editorial content across various media platforms. He was the ninth Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine from January 2005 to April 2014. During his editorship Johns’ focus on excellence in photography, cartography and reporting was recognized with 63 nominations resulting in 23 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors.  In 2008 Johns was named Magazine Editor of the Year and in 2011 National Geographic was named Magazine of the Year. 

Johns became a National Geographic contract photographer in 1985 and joined the magazine staff in 1995. As a photographer, he produced more than 20 articles for National Geographic, eight of which were cover stories. His defining images are of Africa. He has taken readers down the Zambezi River, examined the Bushmen’s ongoing struggle for cultural survival and provided important documentation of Africa’s endangered wildlife, including African wild dogs. He was named one of the world’s 25 most important photographers by American Photo magazine in 2003.

Register Here



Early bird registration by April 9th, 2021 is $175 and $215 after April 20th, 2020.
With the purchase of one full price ticket, you will be admitted to the entire conference from May 10th through May 13th.



Saint Louis International Lambert Airport
10701 Lambert International Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63145
Code: STL
Phone: (314) 890-1333



Your hotel room also needs to be booked by April 9th to guarantee the group discount and room availability. If you need transportation to and from the conference, it can only be provided if you are staying at one of the three hotels listed below.


The two preferred hotels are:

Drury Inn

5 Lambert Drury Place 

Valley Park, MO 63088 

Phone: (636) 861-8300


Hampton Inn

9 Lambert Drury Place 

Drury Dr, Manchester, MO 63088 

Phone: (636) 529-9020 



If the above preferred hotels are booked, please use this hotel: 

Drury Inn

1088 S Hwy Dr, 

Fenton, MO 63026 

Phone: (636) 343-7822



Tentative Itinerary:

May 10th, 2021

11:30am-3pm Pre-conference tour at the Saint Louis Zoo: behind-the-scenes tour of the carnivore unit and AZA’s Reproductive Management Center.

6pm-8:30pm – Icebreaker at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House.

May 11-12th, 2021

International African Painted Dog Conference (being held in the Missouri Department of Conservation Powder Valley Conference Center).

May 13th, 2021

Final presentations and African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan Meeting.

May 14th, 2021

9am-12pm – Post-conference tour at the new Saint Louis Aquarium at Union Station. 



“The Center is honored to be chosen to host this prestigious conference,” stated Virginia Busch, the Endangered Wolf Center’s CEO. “A big part of our mission is to provide opportunities to share best practices, collaborate, and to encourage solution-driven methods to better conserve endangered canids.”

The Endangered Wolf Center has been part of the Association of Zoo’s and Aquarium’s African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP) since 2003. The Center’s Director of Animal Care and Conservation, Regina Mossotti, is a member of the African Painted Dog SSP Management Committee. The EWC recently celebrated two litters born in November 2018, just four days apart, totaling 23 pups.

In collaboration with Dr. Tammy Cloutier of Antioch University, the EWC conducted ground-breaking research on how nutrition affected pup development with these two litters. Not only does the Endangered Wolf Center assist with the breeding program and conduct research to grow the scientific community’s knowledge, the Center also assists conservation through public education programs. Through the EWC’s educational programs, including live webcams, the Center raises awareness to spur conservation action for this endangered species.


Call for Papers:
The 2021 International African Painted Dog Conference will be held in Saint Louis, Missouri, May 10-13, hosted by the Endangered Wolf Center. Attendees will be able to attend all presentations.

Submit Your Proposal Today!

The International Painted Dog Conference Program Committee is accepting abstracts/proposals for the 2021 Conference.

Deadline extended! A few of our presenters asked for an extension, so we are opening the extension to all. Please submit your presentation or poster abstract by March 8th, 2021 to Tracy Rein, [email protected].

Register Here

Valentine’s Wine & Chocolate Howl

Posted by on Jan 2, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Valentine’s Wine & Chocolate Howl

Love is in the air as breeding season begins here at the Endangered Wolf Center.

Join us on Saturday, Feb. 15th to learn the love language of wolves over wine & chocolate!

You’ll learn about our “celebrity couples” here at the Center and how their love is saving their species! Then you’ll take a sunset stroll for the chance to howl from the wolves!

This event is perfect for a unique date night or a fun Galentine’s evening! So whether you’re with your sweetheart or on the prowl with your pack, join us for sweet treats, wolves, and wine.

This is a 21+ event and tickets are $40 per person, which includes an assortment of wine, chocolates, and handmade treats. Reservations are required. 🥂

Call (636) 938-5900 to reserve your spot today or book online.

Register Here

Giving Tuesday 2019

Posted by on Nov 23, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Giving Tuesday 2019


Make a world of difference this Giving Tuesday by supporting the Endangered Wolf Center!




Generous matching donors will DOUBLE your donation on Giving Tuesday -help us reach our $201K goal.

Our animals’ native habitats are all over the world. Though for most of our species, these habitats are dwindling and wild populations are now threatened or critically endangered. The American red wolf, for example, has less than 20 individuals in the wild. We cannot let them go extinct on our watch.



When we conserve our wolves and other canids, we impact ecosystems and promote a healthy, balanced world for plants, animals, and ourselves!

Conserving species is hard work. Your donations directly help us feed our animals, care for veterinary needs, pay our dedicated staff, maintain our animal’s large habitats, and continue to educate the public about these endangered species.

Our Mission
To preserve and protect Mexican wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species, with purpose and passion, through carefully managed breeding, reintroduction and inspiring education programs.

Our Vision
Our vision is a world where endangered wolves and other wild canids exist and thrive in their native habitats, recognized and valued for their vital roles as leading members of a healthy ecosystem.

Do you share our mission?


Make a world of difference with us!

Howliday Celebration on December 28

Posted by on Nov 22, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Howliday Celebration on December 28

Join us on December 28 at the Endangered Wolf Center for a Howliday Celebration!

From 3:30-5:30 pm, visitors will make fun treats for the animals and watch them celebrate the season! After sunset, we will howl with the wolves!

This is an exclusive event limited to 50 people – sign up today! Prices are $25 for adults and $20 children. Please arrive by 3:15pm to check in.

For reservations, call 636-938-5900 or book online here.


Holiday Boutique Open House

Posted by on Nov 18, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Holiday Boutique Open House

Holiday Boutique Open House


Saturday, November 30 | 10 am – 5 pm

Here’s your chance to take care of your holiday shopping and help wildlife and wild places at the same time.

If you have friends, family, neighbors or co-workers who love nature and are passionate about conserving the places they call home, be sure to put the Endangered Wolf Center’s Holiday Boutique on your calendar for Saturday, Nov. 30. Our Celeste Ruwwe Gift Shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Gift Shop is stocked with hundreds of wolf- and nature-themed gifts. And all purchases go toward our vital mission of preserving wild canids like endangered Mexican wolves and red wolves, and our efforts to return them to the wild.

We have a wide variety of great gifts, including jewelry, T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, jackets, posters, books, holiday cards, 2020 puppy calendars, ornaments and plush animals. We’ll even have free refreshments that day.


Visitors to the Holiday Boutique on Nov. 30 can also take in special $10 mini-tours of our animal enclosures. Usually, visitors must make reservations for our daytime PredaTours and evening wolf howls. But on Nov. 30 only, no reservations are needed for a mini tour. Seven mini tours will be offered on the hour, starting at 10 a.m. The last mini tour will begin at 4 p.m.

If you can’t make it to Holiday Boutique on Nov. 30, our Gift Shop is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 pm daily, except Tuesdays, with no reservations required. The Gift Shop is also open during daytime tours and evening events on weekends.


Other than Nov. 30, reservations are required for daytime PredaTours and evening Wolf Howls at the Center. Call 636-938-5900 to schedule or to purchase a gift certificate for tickets – a great stocking stuffer. Visit the Endangered Wolf Center website at for tour times, prices and information.

Happy howlidays  from our pack to yours.

Cool New Junior Volunteers Opportunities

Posted by on Nov 12, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Cool New Junior Volunteers Opportunities

Our Junior Volunteers are an integral part of our operations at the Endangered Wolf Center!
Volunteer Wolf Center

This program is for teens who are interested in conservation efforts, educational programming, wolves and other canid species, or are looking to give back to the community. Our Junior Volunteer program has very flexible scheduling and has regular, as well as occasional, volunteering opportunities.

Opportunities for Junior Volunteers include:

– Creating enrichment for our animals.
– Helping with our special events, such as Wolf Fest.
– Assisting with education programs, including our PredaTours, scout programs, and birthday parties.
– Helping with evening programs, such as Wolf Howls and overnights.
– Assisting with summer camps.


– You must be between 14 – 17 years of age.
– Must be punctual, responsible, and have a willingness to learn new things.

How to Apply:

1. Fill out our online application by clicking here.
2. We will review your application and get back to you within 1 – 2 weeks.

Junior Volunteer Application

If you have any questions about our Junior Volunteer program, please contact Lauren Pickard at [email protected]

If you have a school group or club that is interested in volunteering as a group, please contact Lauren for a group volunteer application.