After a journey of several hours from Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Illinois, the pack of six wolves were released into their spacious enclosure at the Center in Eureka, Missouri.
An account of the arrival by reporter Stephen Deere and photographer J.B. Forbes appeared on the front page of the Oct. 23 St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The story also was reported by Melanie Moon on local television stations KTVI (Channel 2) and KPLR (Channel 11).
The pack consists of four 6-month-old pups (one male and three females) who were born April 14 to 7-year-old female Kai and 10-year-old male Paco. This was Paco’s first litter and Kai’s fourth. It was the first red wolf litter born at Niabi.
“Red wolves are a national treasure. They are native only to the United States … truly ‘Made in the USA’ and we cannot allow them to go extinct. Our Center, along with many of our partners, are fighting to save them, through breeding, reintroduction, community education and research,” said Ginny Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center
The enclosure that provides the pack’s new home is very visible on tours. It fronts an elevated train platform that dates to World War II. The view affords great photo opportunities.
The breeding pair, Kai and Paco, are extremely genetically valuable and need to breed again to make sure the critically endangered red wolf population stays healthy and strong.
The Center has large enclosures and is able to handle a large multi-generational pack — which means the parents and the pups from last year, now yearlings, will help raise any new pups that might be born in the spring. The yearlings will gain invaluable experience like how to protect, teach, feed, and discipline the pups. The pups and the yearlings will gain social skills too. This helps them thrive when released into the wild.
“A pack is a family and the family is only as strong as all of its members, so these yearlings will learn how to keep their pack strong, help them survive,” said Regina Mossotti, director of Animal Care and Conservation at the Endangered Wolf Center.
The pack arrived just after 2:40 p.m. Oct. 22, after being transported in a van by Mossotti and volunteer Deborah Coleman.
(Photo by J.B. Forbes of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)