Mexican Wolf Pups Fly to Their New Forever Homes!

Posted by on Apr 25, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Mexican Wolf Pups Fly to Their New Forever Homes!

Mexican Wolf Pups Fly to Their New Forever Homes!

Puppy season is officially in full swing! And it is one for the history books!

We are happy to announce that last week, we were able to foster six critically endangered Mexican wolf pups into two different wild packs!

This is the first time six pups have been fostered at one time.

Fostering (sometimes called cross-fostering) is a technique where wolf pups from one litter in human care are placed with another litter in the wild in hopes that the wolf mother will adopt the additions as her own.

Fostering wolf pups is possible because wolves are such wonderful parents.


“Saving species requires creativity and breakthroughs in conservation techniques,” said Regina Mossotti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at the EWC, “and this cross-foster was a great example of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the EWC and the states working together to seize a unique opportunity to help Mexican wolves.”

Adopt Mexican Wolves

Fostering is kind of a big deal. Why?

I’m going to grow up WILD!

Placing pups from managed care into a wild litter not only increases the population size in the wild, but also provides crucial genetic diversity to improve the overall health of a critically endangered population.

Bonus points: Now these pups will have wild parents with wild experience and an established territory to teach them how to survive in their new homes. 

The experience that their foster parents and new pack will teach them will help them to grow up and, hopefully, become a successful leader of their own family someday.

Fostering is a relatively new technique for the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and the Endangered Wolf Center has played an integral role in  developing this important conservation tool.

Not only does Mossotti manage the EWC’s foster events, she also serves as the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan Pup Foster Advisor, where she assists U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and institutions in the Species Survival Plan on their fostering efforts to ensure that they are successful.


The Plight of the Mexican Wolf

With fewer than 150 individuals left in the wild—mostly found in Arizona and New Mexico—these six pups born at the EWC represent vital new genetics.

You see, once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, extermination programs and habitat loss have led to a dramatic decline. Scientists later learned how important these keystone species were to keeping an ecosystem balanced and healthy. Because of this, in the late 1970’s, an effort was launched to save the Mexican wolf.

The last remaining wild Mexican wolves were captured by U.S. Wildlife Service in an effort to save them.

This meant they were extinct in the wild. Let that sink in.

The seven remaining Mexican wolves were brought into managed care to begin the breeding and recovery program. The last wild caught female, Nina, was brought to the Endangered Wolf Center, where successful breeding efforts grew the population.

In 1998, the first Mexican wolves were released back into the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, where that population has grown to 150 Mexican wolves today.


Wake me up when we get to my forever home.


This week, we added six pups to that wild population.

Six might not sound like a lot, but when numbers are this sparse, each and every pup counts. Genetic diversity is critical to the survival of any endangered species, because it reduces inbreeding, giving this population a better chance for healthy pups.


Overcoming all Odds

Extreme terrain and logistics make fostering challenging.

Mexican wolves are native to the alpine region in New Mexico and Arizona, where scouring for dens in the mountainous terrain is difficult.

Rachel Crosby, EWC Animal Keeper, takes a rest on the arduous journey to the wild wolf dens. She carries all 6 puppies on her back! See their little faces?!

Then, there is timing.

Wild and captive litters have to be born within a few days of one another, and the transfer from a zoological facility to the wild has to occur before the pups are 14 days old.

“Everything has to line up…the stars, the sun, the moon, and the planets all have to align to make a foster happen,” 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 done.”





This particular operation almost stopped in its tracks, due to lightning and severe thunderstorms in the St. Louis area on the day of the foster event.

Overcoming the logistics and managing the shifting and potentially dangerous conditions on the ground make the success of the Endangered Wolf Center, the USFWS, and Arizona Game and Fish’s efforts all the more remarkable.

The six pups flew to Arizona, accompanied by Regina Mossotti, EWC Director of Animal Care and Conservation, Erin Connett, EWC General Curator and Rachel Crosby, EWC Animal Keeper.













“Our staff members are experts, and they did an incredible job making sure that these precious pups stayed safe, warm and well-cared for on their journey to the wild,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center. “Collaboration is key to successful conservation and we are proud of our partnership with the Service working to re-wild Mexican wolves.”



It All Comes Full Circle

This year, several wild packs denned at the exact same time as the pack at the Endangered Wolf Center. Vera (mother) and Mack (father) at the EWC had a litter of nine healthy pups (male pups “Boomer”, “Victor” and “Max” and female pups “Dianne”, “Winnie” and “Laura”).

Having a large litter offered the opportunity to take six pups and place them into two different litters born in the wild. “It is rare to have litters match up, but to have several at once was very exciting!” said Mossotti.

Both the Prime Canyon Pack in Arizona and the Frieborn Pack in New Mexico had a litter at the same time as Vera and Mack.



This foster effort offered another historic first. The Mexican Wolf Fostering Program started a few years ago in hopes of saving this critically endangered wolf, and this year was the first time a foster has happened with a pack lead by a wolf that was a previous foster.

Meaning, “Blaze”, a pup born at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, was a foster himself three years ago.

His wild foster parents raised him successfully and he has grown into a successful leader of his own pack, and has become a wonderful father.

He is now the alpha male of the Prime Canyon Pack in Arizona. And this year, he and his mate had seven pups.

The EWC added one pup to his litter for a total of eight pups. We are keeping our fingers crossed for this family as their little ones grow.

“Conservation needs multiple tools in the toolbox to work, and we have a new and very effective tool to use to help save Mexican wolves.” said Mossotti. “Knowing that fostering is working, that pups are growing, and helping this endangered population become stronger and healthier is a huge accomplishment. Knowing that these pups’ howls will be heard in the wilds of the American southwest…well, that is one of the most incredible feelings.”

Adopt Mexican Wolves Make a Donation

Celebrate National Trails Day with our REI Hike June 1st

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Celebrate National Trails Day with our REI Hike June 1st

On Saturday, June 1, 2019, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, join us as we celebrate National Trails Day.

We’ll hike from the campfire, through the woods, up to the cave and back to the campfire for snack and beverages. Thank you to REI for donating mini subs and chips after the hike, and to Nature Valley for their granola bars before and after the hike. Drinking water will be available but please bring your own water bottle to fill for this green event.

While the hike is approximately 3 miles, it’s a moderate trail, with a good size hill, wear your hiking shoes! Everyone is welcome, but please leave pets at home.

The gates open at 9:15 a.m., you will be able to mingle and enjoy an educational table with staff from 9:15-9:45 while people are arriving and the hike starts promptly at 10:00 a.m. (No admittance after 10:00 a.m.)

The price is $10 per person and includes a snack and water!

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

National Trails Day

Speaker Series: Famed Biologist Dr. Rasmussen Apr 4

Posted by on Mar 22, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Speaker Series: Famed Biologist Dr. Rasmussen Apr 4

Growing up painted dog: How packs in the wild teach their pups to survive.

Painted Dogs Speaker SeriesMeet the Endangered Wolf Center’s 23 painted dogs puppies and hear world renown African painted dog biologist, Dr. Greg Rasmussen discuss the unique way that African painted dog packs care for their pups. Ensuring the pups’ survival takes every member of the family to help, but it is not without challenges in the harsh African wild.

“They have an incredible social system,” Dr. Greg Rasmussen describes the African painted dog packs he has studied in Africa. “There’s no hierarchy, no fighting, no leadership struggles,” he said. Dr. Rasmussen, founder of the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), has been researching painted dogs in the wild for over 20 years.

African painted dogs are one of the most endangered species in Africa. Once native to all sub-Saharan Africa, there are now less than 6,000 left and their numbers are declining due to poaching, loss of habitat and the introduction of domestic dog diseases. PDRT is an organization that is dedicated on saving African painted dogs in Botswana and throughout Africa through research and community outreach.

This event is a fundraiser which will benefit the African painted dogs (especially the 23 pups that were just born) at the Endangered Wolf Center. Also, a portion of the proceeds from this evening will help support the Painted Dog Research Trust to help with conservation in the wild. Cost per ticket is $50. Please call 636-938-5900 or go to the link below to make your reservation. Seats are limited, so make your reservations today!

Booking Options


Javier Mendoza Concert at the EWC

Posted by on Feb 27, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Javier Mendoza Concert at the EWC

Hobo Cane, aka Javier Mendoza, will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the wolves on Saturday evening, May 4, 2019, at the Endangered Wolf Center!

Join us for live music and a Cinco de Mayo howl in celebration of the endangered Mexican wolf!

Adult beverages are included and dinner will be catered by Fuzzy’s Taco. Beverages include drinks by Snow Leopard Vodka and Aquila Tequila. We will also serve Bud, Bud Light, Lima a Ritas, and more Anheuser-Busch products.

  • Gates Open at 6:30 p.m.
  • Dinner and Concert at 7p.m.
  • Wolf Howl at 8p.m.
  • Concert at 8:30-9:30 p.m.

The price per person is $40; there are only 100 spots available – reserve your spot today: 636-938-5900 or online.

Book Online Now

Hobo Cane Endangered Wolf Center

Maned Wolf Pups Add to our 2018 Puppy Boom

Posted by on Feb 1, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Maned Wolf Pups Add to our 2018 Puppy Boom

Maned Wolf Puppy GirlAdopt Maned Wolves 2018 was supposed was supposed to be the Year of the Dog, but here at the Endangered Wolf Center, it will go down as the Year of the Pups.

First, in the Spring, we successfully cross-fostered eight Mexican wolf pups born at the EWC into wild packs in Arizona and New Mexico – making cross-foster history.

This ground-breaking effort pushed conservation forward for this critically endangered wolf by growing (and increase genetic health of) the wild population.

Then in November, African painted dog sisters Shaba and Akili each had litters of pups, 13 and 10 respectively, for a total of 23 pups born within a few days of each other – an historic first for the EWC and the most pups born at a zoological institution at one time!

And finally, not to be left out, just a few days later, maned wolves couple Nina and Nopal became parents to two maned wolf pups, a girl, Francisca, and a boy, Chrys-their first successful litter.

Near the end of September, keepers at the EWC observed breeding behavior between Nina and Nopal. Because maned wolves are notorious for not “showing” during their pregnancies, keepers couldn’t be sure – but they crossed their fingers and readied the heated den box in hopes of soon welcoming pups.

Maned Wolf PuppyOn November 27, Nina gave birth on her own 9th birthday! Could there be a better gift?

Nina and Nopal are incredible parents. Nina has been a dutiful mother, carefully grooming and nursing her pups. Keepers have monitored her closely via den cameras, watching as she gathers any pup straying too far from her belly and ushers back to her.

In the beginning, Nopal gave Nina much needed space, letting her focus on caring for the pups. He is happy to see her when she comes out to stretch her legs, but seemed to know not to disturb the little ones.

As the pups grew, Nopal stepped in to help Nina with caring for the pups. His patience is amazing, carefully grooming the pups, letting them climb all over him, often play tug-o-war with dad’s ears and tail. It is amazing watching both parents and their tiny pups snuggle together in the den.

Both pups are healthy and active, and at 8 weeks old, they are venturing out of their den and exploring their surroundings.

Maned wolves are very unique, unfamiliar to many people due to the small number in managed care. They are native to South America, where its range extends from the Amazon basin in Brazil to the dry shrub forests of Paraguay and northern Argentina.

The maned wolf is a canid, and therefore related to the wolf, but despite its name, it not actually a wolf. Maned wolves are more closely related to an ancient ancestor of today’s modern canids. It is the only species in its genus, however, meaning that the maned wolf has no close relatives. Their foxlike appearance, in conjunction with their remarkably long legs, has earned them the nickname of “fox on stilts.” But being the tallest canid in the world, standing at nearly 3 ½ feet tall (but weighing only ~50 lbs).

Mom Nina arrived at the Endangered Wolf Center in August 2010, less than a year old and full of energy! She immediately became a favorite, with her bold and curious personality. For the majority of her life she lived with her sister, Freesia, but a big change came in 2015, when she became approved to breed.

We happily welcomed a handsome new male named Nopal (Spanish for prickly pear cactus) from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to pair with her. Nopal’s shy and calm personality is the perfect complement to Nina’s outgoing and audacious self.

They immediately bonded and are often seen cuddling in their den, grooming each other, or walking together exploring their habitat. They are always a favorite sight on our tours, and our guest walk away with an appreciation for their threatened species, empowered to help in their conservation.

Join us this spring at the EWC to meet all of our pups and welcome these precious new lives into the pack!

Adopt Maned Wolves
Maned Wolves

Join us for Trivia Night 2019 | NEW Location

Posted by on Jan 14, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Join us for Trivia Night 2019 | NEW Location

 NEW LOCATION 2019 :  Orlando’s South County 

Trivia Night 209If you have a head for trivia and a heart for supporting wildlife conservation, we invite you to join us for the Endangered Wolf Center Trivia Night on Friday, February 15, 2019 at Orlando’s South County. It’s a night of great trivia competition and fun that supports the animals in our care at the EWC

Tickets are $30 per person or $240 for a table of eight. This year you can upgrade your table of eight to VIP status for an additional $10 per person for a total cost of $320. In addition to express check-in, preferred seating and table service, VIPs will have the opportunity to meet ambassador animals from the EWC, as well as some of our conservation partners. For tickets, call 636-938-9306 or send in our registration form.

All proceeds from Trivia Night 2019 will be used to continue the Endangered Wolf Center’s important international work of preserving endangered canids. Our vision is a world where wolves and other wild canid species coexist with humans and thrive in their native habitats, recognized and valued for their vital roles as leading members of a healthy ecosystem.

Trivia Night Flyer Registration Form & Sponsorship Opportunities


Puppy Love: Second litter + second $50,000 match!

Posted by on Dec 21, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Puppy Love: Second litter + second $50,000 match!

Remember asking Santa for a puppy for Christmas? Sometimes our wishes are granted in ways beyond our imagination. Ways that, in this case, even make history.

We’re over the moon howling with joy to announce the arrival of 23 African painted dog puppies – AND a new $50,000 matching grant through December 31 to help us support them.

African painted dog puppies

You may have seen the news already that Shaba had her first litter of 13, a historic first for our center. We’re excited to announce that her sister, Akili, has also welcomed a litter of 10 pups. (Which goes to show, never underestimate the power of a wish…)

African painted dogs are a critically endangered canid species, numbering fewer than 5000 in the wild. At one time, they had a population of hundreds of thousands, if not over a million. Just like wolves, this species is misunderstood and facing persecution, poaching and habitat loss.

The puppies born at our Center provide an “insurance population” to ensure this species will not go extinct. As a highly accredited facility, this is part of a number of Species Survival Plans in which we play critical roles – which means as a donor, so do you.

Our webcams help spread awareness across the world, as people watch the family working together to help the pups grow to be strong and healthy – goals similar to our own family structures. And the more people can relate to these animals, the more they’ll care about preserving and protecting them.

African painted dogs have an extremely fast metabolism and require a lot of food when they’re growing. Our puppies chow down on 10 pounds of food per day. That is 3,650 pounds of food in one year, costing $83,950. (Parents of teens, we know you can relate…)

A new, generous $50,000 matching grant has been offered from now through the end of December. Please consider helping us meet this matching challenge with a gift today to help feed and care for them.

You’re reading that right. That marks a SECOND $50,000 matching gift challenge to meet by the end of the year. That means every dollar you donate will double, up to $100,000.

Any amount makes a difference. For example, $30 provides a full set of vaccines for two puppies, $60 for four puppies and $150 vaccinates 10 puppies. (Did we mention how much they eat?…)

Check in on these adorable pups on our webcam, then please consider a donation to help us reach this important matching grant goal. Learn about their innovative habitat on our blog, or support Shaba or other Adoptable Animals on our Adoptions page.

Bonus: Matching Name Donation:
Have the perfect name for one of these pups? We have a second generous donor who will match up to $50,000 for all donations of $2,500 to name a puppy from now until December 31. We’re naming 20 puppies over the next 20 days!

All puppy name donors will be invited to attend a Puppy Celebration on January 8, 2019.

Media representatives will be present as Animal Care examines the puppies and gives them their vaccines.

Thank you for your support and all the puppy love. Oh, and don’t forget to make a wish this year. (We hear they’re pretty powerful…)

Learn more about Shaba View Webcams

Howl with the wolves at our REI Campout

Posted by on Dec 21, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Howl with the wolves at our REI Campout

Join the REI Campout on March 23, 2019 as we head out to one of our favorite iconic locations in the STL region for a night of wildlife and winter camping.

REI Campout at the Endangered Wolf Center We’ll create a great community space with a beverage station, s’mores bar and community campfire.

Bring your own food and we will provide the camp stoves, fuel, pots/pans and utensils and water for cooking. Enjoy information and stories from EWC staff around a roaring campfire.

Then be led by EWC staff on a night hike where you will get the opportunity to howl with the wolves! We make “roughing it” super simple: We create the opportunity and space – you just bring your tent, sleeping gear, food and beverage! Come out and learn about wolves and why the EWC is one of the top outdoor attractions in STL.

Spots are limited, sign-up today and see why our members come camp with us again and again. No service dogs or pets allowed at this campout per EWC policy. Member price: $75 Non-member price: $100.

Go to REI Campout Registration

Exclusive Howliday Celebration on Dec 29

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Exclusive Howliday Celebration on Dec 29

Join us on December 29 at the EWC for a Howliday Celebration!

From 3:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., help fill presents, make treats, decorate trees – and watch the animals celebrate the season! Then sit by a cozy campfire and enjoy hot cocoa, marshmallows and cookies.

This is an exclusive event limited to 50 people – sign up today!

Prices are $25 for adults and $20 children. For reservations, call 636-938-5900 or book online.

Learn about Booking Options

Photography with the Wolves

Posted by on Dec 4, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Photography with the Wolves

Choose one of two special dates – or both – on December 8 and January 13 – grab your camera and come learn from award-winning nature photographer Sandy Brooks on how to get the best nature photos while photographing the world’s most endangered wolves at the EWC. During the workshop, you will learn about camera settings and photographic considerations, as well as about the wolves, their ecology and how the EWC is helping to save this national treasure. After the introduction, you will spend an hour photographing the wolves in their habitat.

This will be exclusive access for a limited number of participants – there are only 20 spots available, so make your reservations today! Cost is $175 per person; $100 of each reservation goes to the EWC to help continue its mission to save critically endangered species, so thank you for contributing to our important conservation work and being a part of our pack! (Must be 14 years or older; ages 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult.) To register, go to