The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced the births of four Mexican gray wolf pups—the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America—earlier this month. Their births mark a significant achievement for the zoo as this is the first time Mexican gray wolf pups have been born at the facility in 14 years.
The pups were born on May 6 to mom, Winter, and dad, Storm. Monitoring the wolves through a closed-circuit camera, zookeepers said Winter is providing excellent care to her pups, while Storm occasionally peeks in on them during breaks from patrolling the habitat. Wolves -- they're just like us.
Both the 3-year-old adult wolves came to the zoo late last year. Winter arrived from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York and Storm arrived from the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri. They were eventually paired and brought to the zoo with help from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services Wolf Recovery Plan and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan.
Since participating in the recovery program, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has welcomed the births of 39 pups, with one male released into a wolf population area in New Mexico.
Conservation efforts have helped the endangered Mexican gray wolf population experience a rebirth after nearly being wiped out in the U.S.
The species was bred in human care and began to be reintroduced to its native range in the American Southwest in 1998.
An annual survey conducted from November 2018 to January 2019 by groups who oversee the population of wolves in the Southwest region reported 131 wild wolves—64 in Arizona and 67 in New Mexico—which is a 12% increase from the 117 wolves documented since last year.
While conservation efforts are underway, the Mexican gray wolves continue to face many natural threats and remain vulnerable to poachers, as well as threats to their habitats.