Benefit Endangered Wolves While You Shop

Posted by on Dec 4, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Benefit Endangered Wolves While You Shop

Holiday shopping looks a little different this year, but don’t worry! We’ve curated the perfect gifts that keep giving… to your loved ones and the planet.

Every gift you purchase through the Endangered Wolf Center Gift Shop helps us continue to provide expert care, veterinary services, education, and nutrition to the animals in our care.

Shop online now or schedule an appointment with one of our personal shoppers in our Gift Shop, call (636) 938-5900. Our employees can guide you in finding the perfect gift for your friends and family.

Unforgettable experiences, annual memberships, and thoughtful gifts for the animal lover in your life… there is something for everyone.

EXPERIENCES: Find gift certificates for our popular tours.

MEMBERSHIPS: Make an honorary pack adoption in your loved one’s name and they’ll receive a 12-month membership and other gifts to celebrate their sponsorship.

ANIMAL-THEMED GIFTS: Find hand-crafted jewelry, puzzles, apparel, stuffed animals, books, and more in our online gift shop.

Endangered Wolf Center Gift Shop


Are you in the St. Louis area? You can also shop in person from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Tuesday. Admission to the gift shop is free.

The Endangered Wolf Center is located on the grounds of Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, at 6750 Tyson Valley Road, Eureka, MO 63025. Just come to the front gate and you’ll be directed to the gift shop.

For more information, call 636-938-5900.

Endangered Wolf Center Gift Guide

NOTE: All orders placed for tees and hoodies through our Bonfire Store must be placed by December 7th to ensure delivery in time for Christmas day.

All products below are available while supplies last.

Be sure to follow us on social media to see special gift shop deals during our “12 Days of Howliday Cheer Guidebook” from now until December 15th, 2020.


Gifts for Kids

Furry plushies are the perfect cuddly gift for the kids in your life! These plush toys can be gifted individually or as a pack! 

Our Pack Plushie Collections come in small, medium, or large to fit every budget!

Animal books, scramble puzzles, and board books for the kids are educational and just plain fun. 




Apparel for Kids – You can find kid’s sizes in our t-shirt and hoodie collection, as well as fun wearables and accessories in our online gift shop.

Wolf Slap Watch

Pack Pride Tee

Protect the Heart of the Wild Tee

Wolf and Fox Scarves – Different Styles and Colors Available


Gifts for Women

Nothing says “I love you” like something that sparkles AND supports endangered species! The Wild Pearle Collection of wolf-themed jewelry is elegant and beautiful – the perfect gift for your wife, mother, or any alpha female in your life.


Gifts for Men

Notoriously difficult to shop for, the men in your life will love our cozy hoodies, sweatshirts, and tees! These gifts for your boyfriend or husband are customizable in a variety of styles and colors.


All You Need is Love Hoodie

Rediscover Red Wolves Tee

Protect the Heart of the Wild Hoodie


Gifts for Dog Moms


Most dog moms wish they could adopt ALL the pups… a symbolic adoption of our pack of Mexican wolves, American red wolves, or African painted dogs will make their hearts full. Our adoption packages provide a unique bond with a special animal or pack.

Check out our Adoption packages!


Adopt our Pack of Mexican wolves!


Gifts for Photographers


Photographers will love the opportunity to photograph the animals that call the Endangered Wolf Center home.

Experience: The Photography Tour offered here at the Endangered Wolf Center is a unique behind-the-scenes tour guided by one of our expert Education staff.

The Center’s large wolf enclosures have a natural, serene and wooded surroundings that provide the ability to get breathtaking photos of Mexican gray wolves, red wolves, maned wolves, African painted dogs, and swift foxes.

The tour is designed to allow professional and novice photographers alike time to try different locations, use different cameras and lenses and work in the beautiful natural lighting conditions at our facility.


Gifts for Animal Lovers

An Alpha Membership comes with these special keepsakes. Packages and Membership levels vary.

Anyone passionate about wildlife and conservation will love the opportunity to symbolically adopt a pack of wolves and join our pack as an Endangered Wolf Center Member.



LGBTQ-Friendly Gifts

The Beatles + Wolves & Foxes + Pride = The perfect LGBTQ-Friendly gift that supports humans and wildlife!

All You Need is Love – Pride Tee

Last-Minute Gifts


Private Tours are outdoors and allow visitors to maintain a safe social distance from our keepers and education staff.

A Private Tour is an experience your family and friends will not soon forget! This private guided tour is the ideal way to experience the Endangered Wolf Center. Tailored to what you most want to see and learn, we’ll share insights we’ve gathered over four decades of working with and for wolves and other wild canids.

Virtual Programs

We offer a variety of educational Virtual Programs and Virtual Field Trips that bring the wild right into your home – virtually! Schedule your Virtual Program by calling (636) 938-5900 or email [email protected]

Our popular “Animals of the Endangered Wolf Center” Virtual Program shares information and visuals to educate you about the adorable animals that call the EWC home.


During the “Animals in My Backyard” Virtual Program, you’ll meet one of our Animal Ambassadors!


We hope this Gift Guide has helped you choose the perfect gifts for everyone in your life!

Still on the prowl? Our Gift Shop staff is happy to help! Schedule an appointment with one of our personal shoppers by calling (636) 938-5900.

Wolf Awareness Week: Sculpting the Tale of the American Red Wolf

Posted by on Oct 5, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Wolf Awareness Week: Sculpting the Tale of the American Red Wolf

Join the Endangered Wolf Center for a free discussion on the world’s most endangered wolf, the American red wolf. With fewer than 20 red wolves in the wild today, the time is now to get involved in saving this species.

Special guests Dale Weiler and Loti Woods will join us to share their inspiring path to impacting conservation through art and how YOU can use your talents to help conserve endangered animals.

News & Education
First, you’ll hear breaking news from Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation, about exciting news from our facility that will benefit red wolf conservation.

Then, you’ll learn a brief history of this misunderstood, overlooked animal and the incredible conservation efforts taking place to prevent extinction.

Joining us to inspire you to use your talents to benefit endangered animals is the passionate pair behind Weiler Woods for Wildlife. Using the art of sculpture and the written word, they’ve propelled conservation efforts and raised awareness about “underdogs” of the animal world, including the American red wolf.

This Wolf Awareness Week, we hope you will join us for this special, free event and gain the inspiration you need to protect wildlife and wild places.




Meet the Speakers


Regina Mossotti, a wildlife biologist, has been the Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center for almost 10 years. She has worked with both captive and wild carnivores for over 16 years, including capturing and collaring mountain lions in California to researching wolves in Yellowstone. She is currently the Vice Coordinator of the AZA American red wolf Species Survival Plan and sits on the management team for the Mexican wolf Species Survival Plan. She is also the Foster Advisor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Species Survival Plan foster efforts and is an expert in the field at this effort.



Dale Weiler and Loti Woods
Dale Weiler is a sculptor, engineer, Navy pilot, business consultant, and conservationist. Dale first touched stone in his late 40s and knew he was born to be a stone sculptor. His wildlife sculptures are in museums and zoos around the world.
“Just Settling In”, his sculpture of an American red wolf mom and her pup has been donated to over 25 red wolf conservation organizations throughout the country.
Loti Woods is a business owner, insurance broker, native plant gardener, and conservationist. After Loti sold her insurance brokerage firm, she moved to the foothills of North Carolina to be closer to nature and wildlife. One of her first conservation efforts was funding and helping plant three butterfly gardens in partnership with her local land conservancy.
Loti & Dale met at one of Dale’s art shows and it was love at first sight. After getting engaged in eight days in their late 60s, they looked at each other and said “what do we do now?”.
The answer was the creation of Weiler Woods for Wildlife to promote awareness and protection of misunderstood animals and their habitat. Using Dale’s sculptures and Loti’s blogs, they hope to inspire others to become conservationists for the underdogs.
To learn more about Weiler Woods for Wildlife, visit and join us for this special online event.

Highlights of Summer Wolf Camp 2020

Posted by on Sep 30, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Highlights of Summer Wolf Camp 2020

Campers Connect with Nature in a Blended Program



Despite the ongoing and unconventional challenges of this summer, the Endangered Wolf Center continued to provide educational experiences to the community with our annual Summer Wolf Camp program. This year, campers chose from unique themes that highlight an element of natural history: art, science, and adventure. “Fairy Tails,” “Inspectors,” and “Explorers” gathered for one week both on-site and online with their Camp-in-a-Crates in tow!

Our summer camps aim to create lasting ties between our campers and nature. All weeks covered a wide range of topics with a focus on their chosen theme. The popular “Fairy Tails” placed an emphasis on art, while Teen Camp “BioMe” explored art, adventure and passion development. Teen campers even had the opportunity to make a positive difference in their local ecosystems by each constructing a bat box out of recycled wood.

Our staff used a blended program of online learning and in-person activities to give campers an unforgettable experience. Weekly activities included a keeper chat, hikes, and a full tour of our site where campers get to see many of our eight canid species. Sawyer (everyone’s favorite opossum) even stopped by to share his story.


Counselor “Tails” – Camp Counselor Jamie Shares Highlights of Wolf Camp


The first day of Summer Wolf Camp in 2020 just so happened to be the first Monday of the month, when tornado sirens are tested near the Endangered Wolf Center. 

Picture this…

First, we hear the painted dogs squeak in response as they rattle the back corner of the fence. Their nails tap the ground excitedly. They seem giddy as they run back and forth from one end of their habitat to the next. Most of the campers have never seen anything like it. But what comes next puts them in awe. 

As the tornado sirens continue to blare, Mack’s and Vera’s pack seem to think it’s a mechanical wolf. As they howl, two elderly wolves join in. The campers observe Flint in his habitat, unable to resist singing with the rest of the Mexican wolves. Though Flint is an old-timer, his howl is still strong and deep. 



It’s a milestone for these animal enthusiasts. After all, it’s the first time most of these campers have ever heard wolves howl. This experience is like seeing your first rainbow or making your first wish on a shooting star. It’s a rare moment when nature is comfortable enough to surrender her secrets. 

“I’m asking my parents to sign me up every year,” says one camper as she watches the American red wolf throw her head back in song. 

One little girl writes down observations on her clipboard. Watching endangered animals in person is an experience that no cell phone or iPad can deliver. Seeing these beautiful creatures in a place where they can be themselves seems to make the kids feel at home. 

The kids and the grown-ups have the same passion for wildlife conservation, which fosters a sense of hope for the future of our endangered species. Whether or not they become conservationists, these campers are full of passion.

Every year the campers evolve by the end of the week. The quietest campers drag their guardians by their hands to meet other campers’  parents and they exchange numbers. The kid who struggles to climb the nature-break hill is now navigating the creek all on his own. Even virtual activities bring out the best in these aspiring naturalists. 

Outdoor settings like this beautiful creek allow for social distancing and plenty of space to explore.

By creating a blended camp program, campers got the best of both worlds – to play outside, spend time in nature, and bring the wild home with them with virtual education and activities about endangered animals.  


Distance Learning During Summer Camp


Most Zoom calls begin with games of charades or campers announcing they have a special guest before angling the camera at their dog. Some kids even bring plush toys to keep them company during the zoom chats. Today the campers are meeting a special guest we have chosen based on the theme of the week – explorers week. 

Kristen Schulte, educational director of the Missouri River Relief program, is spotlighted on our Zoom call. 

“Since we’ve been doing this for the last 20 years, we’ve picked up 940 tons of trash,” she shares. 

A camper in the top right of the screen drops her jaw, eyes wide in astonishment. But Kristen is just getting started. 

“One of my favorite things we find in the river is…are you ready? Messages in a bottle.”  

She’s arranged a variety of bottles on the table in front of her. Each decorated differently, sporting dents and battle scars from rough rides in the Missouri River. The kids take turns guessing what each message might say. Kristen gives them opportunities to look at the bottles and types of paper before reading each message. Some of these brittle pages are older than the kids themselves.

One letter from 2004 requests correspondence confirming somebody found the bottle. Little did they know it would be a river clean-up team. As we talk about the beauty of human connection through these types of messages, we ask the kids a big question that even grown-ups struggle to answer amid social distancing: “What are some ways to maintain a human connection while leaving no trace on our environment?” Some ideas include washable chalk messages on the driveway, putting up signs in windows, and leaving letters in library books for people to find. 

Speaking of social distancing, you may be wondering how on earth we manage to entertain the kids without our usual interactive games. Some long-time camp parents may hear their camper relaying a game of “Tales,” or “Predators and Prey,” both of which involve tagging. This year we invented new games, including “Alpha May I,” a game to teach about telemetry. 


Two young campers practice their telemetry skills using tools biologists use in the wild to track and protect wolves.


Telemetry is the method used by biologists to locate wolves in their natural habitat. To emulate this, we invite one camper to hide the radio collar while another holds up the radio receiver and listens very carefully for the tiniest beep. The closer the camper is to the transmitter in the collar, the louder the beep. After a camper triumphantly discovers the hidden collar, we wipe down the equipment with disinfectant and give another kiddo a turn. But it’s not just the younger kids having a lifetime experience at the Endangered Wolf Center. 

This year Teen Camp gets some bonus opportunities, including a private wolf howl evening program and the chance to build take-home bat boxes. Though wolves are the stars of the EWC, we recognize the importance of every animal who calls our Center home. Early in the week, we had a Zoom chat with Bat Specialist Delainey O’Donnel. Delainey eagerly invited questions about these creatures who, like wolves, struggle with inaccurate media representation. Teen Camp enjoyed the freedom to work with power tools under counselor guidance. 


Teen campers proudly show off their handmade bat boxes.


By Thursday, the night of the howling and second-to-last meeting of the week, Teen Camp had formed a family-like bond. Three of the campers sat in a circle, one to a bench while the other two worked with Camp Director Danna Hilleren to construct personal bat boxes. Each box came with easy-to-read tips and tricks for how to mount it properly. Some campers couldn’t manage to look away from the sky as they searched for nocturnal creatures. 

As Zoom calls become the new normal and we continue to social distance, we believe our future generations must maintain a connection with nature. Camp this year managed to follow guidelines provided the CDC while building new friendships and memories that will shape curious minds. 


A Unique, Successful Year of Summer Camp


A huge thank you goes out to all who made this blended summer camp program a huge success. We may have had a new format, but the end result was the same: educating and inspiring our campers to care about natural spaces.

Teaching the next generation about conservation is an important piece of our mission because we believe that education leads to an understanding and appreciation of the environment and the animals we share it with. 

Thank you to the amazing guest speakers who joined us on Zoom to inspire our kids: children’s author Jeanine Ransom, environmental artist Hanna Fox, lab scientist & Astronomical Society member Katie Czeschin, River Relief Education Director Kristen Schulte, and Naturalist & Bat Specialist Delainey O’Donnel. These wonderful speakers gave amazing and engaging presentations and not only captured the kids’ imaginations but also inspired them to investigate the world they live in. Thank you to Backyard Trail Builds for donating the recycled wood that we used to build the bat boxes.

Thank you to our campers, their families, and our volunteers for their continued support of this innovative camp program!

EWC Service Provider Victim of Cyberattack

Posted by on Sep 9, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on EWC Service Provider Victim of Cyberattack

We were recently notified about a data security incident our third-party vendor, Blackbaud Inc., experienced. The Endangered Wolf Center takes the protection and proper use of your information very seriously.

At this time, we understand that Blackbaud discovered and stopped a ransomware attack. After discovering the attack, Blackbaud’s Cyber Security team—together with independent forensics experts and law enforcement— successfully prevented the cybercriminal from blocking their system access and fully encrypting files; and ultimately expelled the threat from their system. Prior to locking the cybercriminal out, the cybercriminal removed a copy of a backup file which contained some information about our donors. This occurred at some point beginning on February 7, 2020 and continued through May 20, 2020, during which time the cybercriminal could have been intermittently attempting to access data.

It’s important to note that, according to Blackbaud’s investigation, the cybercriminal did not access credit card information, bank account information, or social security numbers. However, we have determined that the file removed may have contained contact information, demographic information, and a history of donors’ relationships with our organization, such as donation dates and amounts and events attended. As part of its response efforts, Blackbaud paid the cybercriminal’s demand and received confirmation that the copy that was removed had been destroyed. Based on the nature of the incident, Blackbaud’s research, and third party (including law enforcement) investigation, Blackbaud has informed us that it has no reason to believe that any data went beyond the cybercriminal, was or will be misused, or will be disseminated or otherwise made available publicly.

We sincerely apologize for this third-party vendor breach and regret any inconvenience it may cause. Should you have any further questions or concerns regarding this matter and/or the protections available to you, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (636) 938-9306 or [email protected] Below is a link to an account of what transpired as it has been communicated to us by our service provider.

For more information you can visit

Enter to Win Our Wolf T-Shirt Design Contest!

Posted by on Sep 8, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Enter to Win Our Wolf T-Shirt Design Contest!


Attention Artists, Designers, and Creatives of all ages…

We are excited to announce our Wolf T-shirt design contest! The winner will have their design featured on our next t-shirt.

Each t-shirt campaign we create serves as a fundraiser for our care and conservation efforts of endangered animals. That means YOU can be a part of this important work by using your talents to have a positive impact on wildlife.

We’re looking for art and designs that focus on our wolves- Mexican wolves and American red wolves!

Did you know that our last t-shirt campaign featured the art of 10-year-old Bella, a pack member of the Endangered Wolf Center since 2014?

Submissions are due by 9/25/20.

After reviewing, finalists will be posted on our social media for public voting!

Get inspired by checking out our online t-shirt store!

Fill out this form to submit your entry. From there, we will select our favorites that will move to a round of public voting on our social media pages! A winner will be announced in October and t-shirts featuring the design will be made available in our store.


Submit Your Entry



1) Make sure that the upload is a .AI, .EPS, or .PDF vector image. .PNG, and .JPG files are also acceptable.

2) For best results please upload art with a transparent background and a resolution of at least 1500 x 1500 pixels.

3) Please do not include any words with your design.

4) Maximum file size per design is 10 Mb.

5) Up to 5 designs can be submitted per form.

6. Design must be wholly original. By submitting a design, you are guaranteeing that you hold original rights to everything in it, that it may be printed on t-shirts, advertised, and reproduced in any other way the Endangered Wolf Center sees fit and that it does not contain any copyright material.

7. The Endangered Wolf Center reserves the right to make adjustments to all entries, including colors of the design and the shirt.

8. Design must feature a wolf or multiple wolves.


Get Inspired!

Spring Private Tour

Webinar Speaker Series: African Painted Dog Conservation with Dr. Greg Rasmussen

Posted by on Aug 10, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Webinar Speaker Series: African Painted Dog Conservation with Dr. Greg Rasmussen



Join the Endangered Wolf Center and world-renowned biologist Dr. Greg Rasmussen for an educational, adventurous webinar that will transport you to the wilds of Africa to learn about the endangered African painted dog.

Dr. Greg will share insight into their family dynamics, conservation techniques, and his first-hand experiences educating and researching this fascinating species.

The cost per ticket is $25, which will directly support our pack of 15 African painted dogs that call the Endangered Wolf Center home. A portion of the proceeds will support the Painted Dog Research Trust to further conservation in the wild.

Space is limited, so reserve your virtual seat today!

About Our Speaker

Dr. Greg Rasmussen began researching endangered African painted dogs in Zimbabwe in 1989 and has since become a world leader and expert in the study and conservation of painted dogs.

Founder of Painted Dog Conservation and the Painted Dog Research Trust, Dr. Greg’s mission has evolved to encompass an innovative model of conservation that tackles ecological and socioeconomic issues that impinge on Africa’s most endangered predator.

Meaningful conservation, achieved by the education of children and mentorship of young Zimbabwean and international university students, has proven successful with the national pack size doubling thanks to these dedicated efforts.

Dr. Greg is a research associate and part-time lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe; he is also affiliated with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University in the UK where he completed his Ph.D.

He is unswerving in his commitment to conservation and to all who wish to become a part of saving nature.

You’re Invited: Virtual Members’ Day June 20th

Posted by on Jun 4, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on You’re Invited: Virtual Members’ Day June 20th

Virtual Member's Day

On Saturday, June 20th, we’d like to give thanks to all of the Endangered Wolf Center’s most loyal and supportive members for the role they have in our efforts to save endangered species and improve our environment.

This virtual event is an exciting new format now available to EWC members across the world. Enjoy an inside view of the Center’s mission presented by its leaders and animal care staff. Rare and special footage of some of the most endangered animals will be featured. This is a family friendly event for all ages.

Only current and registered members will be admitted on Zoom, please register for one of the following sessions. Additional add on tickets for guests of members are available to purchase.

11:00 a.m. CDT Meet with the Keepers
This is an exclusive event for our Wolf Guardian ($500) and above members.

Meet with the Keepers Event
promo code: MWK2020 for two devices

2:00 p.m. CDT Members’ Day Celebration
This is an event to celebrate all of our members.

Members’ Day Celebration
promo code: MembersDay2020 for two devices

Please RSVP by Thursday, June 18, 2020: 636-938-5900 or email [email protected].

Not a member but want to attend this event? Join now at

Wolf Pups Fostered to the Wild Despite Pandemic

Posted by on May 28, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Wolf Pups Fostered to the Wild Despite Pandemic

Endangered Wolf Pups Fostered to the Wild Despite Pandemic


COVID-19 has brought on unique challenges in all corners of the earth. 

While news of the pandemic crisis dominated the headlines, the Endangered Wolf Center worked to ensure conservation was not paused. This pandemic has driven home the fact that our environment, when out of balance, can lead to negative ramifications for wildlife and for humans.


The Mexican wolf plays a crucial role in the balance of their ecosystems.


The Endangered Wolf Center focuses on returning keystone species, such as the critically endangered Mexican wolf, to their native habitat. Wolves and other large carnivores were eradicated from the landscape in the late 1800s and early 1900s before humans realized the vital role they play in keeping the ecosystem balanced and healthy.

“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.”

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. Today there are less than 200 left in the wild, and they are mostly found in Arizona and New Mexico.


Mexican wolf pups are given veterinary exams prior to their journey to the wild.


Since the first successful captive-to-wild foster in 2016, we have employed a ground-breaking, innovative conservation technique to grow the fragile population of the Mexican wolf, fostering Mexican wolf pups from human care into wild Mexican wolf dens in Arizona and New Mexico. While still in the beginning stages of this effort, every year we are looking into ways to improve and develop this new technique so it is as successful as possible.


Historic Collaborative Conservation Work

Despite the added challenges of continuing critical conservation efforts during a global pandemic, the Endangered Wolf Center flew nine critically endangered Mexican wolf pups to Arizona to be fostered by three separate wild packs in New Mexico and Arizona this spring.

It has been a record-breaking foster season; 20 total pups have been placed in the wild this spring from five different zoos and conservation facilities, a 67% increase over the previous highest record which saw 12 pups fostered to the wild in 2019.

Also notable, the Endangered Wolf Center is proud to announce that this was the first time nine pups born in human care have been “adopted out” from one facility at the same time. 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.

Outside of Aero Charter’s plane, Regina Mossotti (back right) and Rachel Broom (back left) handing pups to veterinarians, Dr. Ole (l) and Dr. Allen (r) with the AZ Game and Fish Department.


“This effort took major collaborations between our EWC staff, individual donors, and government agencies. The power of collaboration – when all of these entities successfully work together – is essential to save species like the Mexican wolf,” said Rachel Broom, Director of Development, who traveled along with the pups to their new homes.


Normally pups are transported on commercial flights, however, for the safety and health of the staff, that was not a possibility this year due to Covid-19 risks. Fosters would not have happened this year without the generous donation of flights on private planes provided by LightHawk and pilot Michael Schroeder, Luxco, Aero Charter and Ray Van de Riet. 

Expeditions at the Endangered Wolf Center were also funded by individuals sponsoring each puppy (Mary Ann Amsinger, Mike Crecelius, Jane Habbegger, Peg Kaltenthaler, Celeste Ruwwe, Linda Straubinger, Doug and Joyce Wiley and Karen Winnick). 

Veterinary equipment and carriers were provided by Chewy, Patterson Veterinary, and CareVet to help keep the pups safe and healthy. Dr. Rhiannon McKnight and Dr. Tammy Smith performed veterinary exams and services.

Wake me up when I get to be WILD!

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. 

“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 Fish and Wildlife Service, the Species Survival Plan (SSP), and the states working together to seize a unique opportunity to help Mexican wolves.”


How & Why Fostering Wolves Works


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. 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. 

Placing Mexican wolf pups from managed care into a wild Mexican wolf litter not only helps increase the population size in the wild but also helps increase genetic diversity in a critically endangered species. Mexican wolves in the SSP’s captive population have higher genetic diversity than the wild population.

“When you are talking about a tiny endangered population, genetics play an important role in whether that population survives. Good genetic diversity allows the population to be healthier, and to hopefully grow and thrive,” said Mossotti. The foster technique also provides a unique opportunity for wild parents (with wild experience and an established territory) to raise and teach the pups how to survive.


Pup from Endangered Wolf Center being placed into wild Elkhorn Pack litter by Arizona Game and Fish biologist. Photo Credit; Arizona Game and Fish Department


Fostering works because wolf mothers have extremely strong maternal instincts to care for their pups.

Wolf mothers clean, nurse, and protect their young babies and that bond is forged in the first few weeks of the pups’ lives. In addition, we help secure the mother’s bond with the new pups by taking care to help the pups born at the Endangered Wolf Center “blend” in with their new wild brothers and sisters. We make sure not to get our scent on them when we perform their health exam, feed them, and during transportation.

When the pups get to their new wild home, the field team takes dirt from the wild den and rubs it on the foreign pups. They also have the wild and captive-born pups urinate and defecate on each other to cover any unfamiliar smells and ensure that all the pups smell much like each other as possible. Because of the strong bond and nurturing nature of the wolf mothers, when she gets back to the den after the new pups have been added, she accepts them as her own. 


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to Keep us from Fostering Wolves


Endangered Wolf Center team boarding the Aero Charter plane in St. Louis with pups heading to the recovery area in AZ.


Extreme mountainous terrain and other logistics make fostering a challenge, 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 the beginning of April to mid-May, but timing of the birth of wild pups has to be within 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.”  

This year’s operation almost did not occur due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the team came together quickly to develop a protocol to keep the humans and the animals protected during the conservation efforts. 


LightHawk pilot Mike Schroeder loading precious cargo (Nora, JeanTabaka, and Grace) into his plane. Mike woke up at 3 am to ensure the pups arrived at their destination early and minimizing their time away from a mother.


Overcoming the logistics makes the success of the project all the more remarkable. Sedgwick County Zoo (Wichita, KS), California Wolf Center (Julian, CA), Phoenix Zoo (Phoenix, AZ), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility (La Joya, NM) also fostered pups this year. 

“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.”

“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.”

Thanks to the many individuals and organizations making this possible, twenty more Mexican wolves will grow up wild in 2020. This incredible story shows that when a determined group of people works together, they can make great things happen.


We would like to thank our many collaborating partners: 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan
Arizona Game and Fish Department
New Mexico Fish and Game Department
USDA Forest Service
USDA Wildlife Service
White Mountain Apache Tribe
and all of the Interagency Field Teams


Thank you to our Wildlife Release Heroes:
Expeditions were funded by individuals sponsoring each puppy.

Mary Ann Amsinger
Mike Crecelius
Jane Habbegger
Peg Kaltenthaler
Celeste Ruwwe
Linda Straubinger
Doug and Joyce Wiley
Karen Winnick

Donn Lux, Rachel Broom, Regina Mossotti, Michele, Andrew, and Phillip Lux provided well wishes to the puppies before their flight. The second expedition was made possible by Luxco, Aero Charter, and Ray Van de Riet, Jr.

Aircraft Transportation Sponsors: 

Aero Charter
Ray Van de Riet, Jr.

We also thank Laura Holland O’Brien and the Greater St. Louis Business Aviation Association (GSLBAA).

Veterinary Supply Sponsors:

Patterson Veterinary

Dr. Rhiannon McKnight and Dr. Tammy Smith performed veterinary exams and services.

EWC Executive Director, Mark Cross, and Dr. Rhiannon McKnight examines pups before their journey to the airport. Photo Credit: Grubb-Endangered Wolf Center


If you would like to become a Wildlife Release Hero, please make a donation here and mention “Wildlife Release Fund” in the comments section.




To learn more, attend our upcoming Webinar: A Pup’s Journey to the Wild

Join wildlife biologist and Director of Animal Care and Conservation Regina Mossotti on a wild conservation journey as she shares her first-hand experience of cross-fostering endangered wolf pups into the wild. 

 Being held on May 28 at 5:30 PM CT – these limited tickets are $15 and all funds will help us continue this important conservation work.


“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

Currently offering only Private Tours, Virtual Tours, VIP Tours and Photography Tours. Reservation required. No walk-ups due to COVID. Learn More