The Endangered Wolf Center announces Fred Gauna III as the organization’s new executive director.

Eureka, MO: Virgil Van Trease, chairman of the board of directors of the Endangered Wolf Center (EWC), announced today that Fred Gauna has been appointed as executive director of the 50-year-old nonprofit organization founded to save Mexican wolves and American red wolves from extinction. 

A zoological professional with more than 25 years of experience and a 1995 graduate of Carleton College with a degree in biology, Gauna joins the EWC from the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield, MO, where he served as senior manager of collections, education, and operations since 2019. Previously, Gauna spent 16 years at Busch Gardens in Tampa in several positions including zoological supervisor of the tigers, orangutans, and elephants; manager of the animal programs, education supervisor, and education instructor and ambassador keeper. His prior experience includes service at the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, MO. Born into a military family, St. Louis is the 14th city Gauna has called home. 

“I’m humbled to have the opportunity to serve an organization with such a strong and proven track record and am excited to join a team of dedicated conservationists who are continuing the critical work started over 50 years ago by the Perkins family,” Gauna says. 

Regarded as a cornerstone of the Mexican wolf conservation program, every Mexican wolf living in the wild can trace its DNA back to the EWC. As of 2023, the EWC has welcomed 454 pups born since 1971, all of which help conserve these critically endangered species. Annually, the EWC hosts 14,000+ visitors for tours and educational programs, many of whom are students and families. 

As executive director, Gauna plans to increase the conservation impact and education initiatives that he hopes will not only save endangered wolf species from extinction but ensure that they thrive in their native habitats. 

“The Endangered Wolf Center’s Board of Directors is thrilled about the future under Fred’s leadership. Fred brings the leadership style and experience to drive our strategic plan forward. We look forward to working with him,” said Van Trease.