For the first time in history, Akron Zoo is welcoming eight critically endangered red wolf pups birthed by Juno, the zoo's female red wolf, on April 22, after a successful cross-breeding effort with Waya, the male red wolf.
The Red Wolf Recovery Plan, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, designated four of the pups to be cross-fostered to a den in their natural habitat. The two males and two females pups had been taken to a foster den in North Carolina on May 1 by USFWS officials.
The release was a collaborative effort with Endangered Wolf Center, Wolf Conservation Center, and Wolf Haven International, who also brought four adult American red wolves into the protected refuge in North Carolina.
The Akron Zoo's four remaining red wolf pups, three males and one female, are currently housed in a private habitat in a den box with their parents. Juno is an outstanding first-time mother, and Waya is highly protective of his new family and offers Juno a lot of support. The pups may start venturing out of the den box around the end of May, and visitors may start seeing them in the red wolf habitat in June.
Red wolves are on the list of critically endangered animals, they are the world's most endangered canine species with only fewer than 20 wolves remain in their natural habitat. The cross-breeding effort by the zoo has been a big success for the species, making it the first time since 2014 that red wolf pups have been reintroduced to their native habitat.
“This is the definition of the Akron Zoo’s mission in action,” said president and CEO of the Akron Zoo, Doug Piekarz. “The Akron Zoo is proud to be able to play a part in saving red wolves, in their native habitat, and in zoos. This birth and the subsequent cross-fostering is a major conservation win for a species that was once native to Ohio.”