There are only 15-20 red wolves in the wild, only in North Carolina, making the species the most endangered canid in the world, the zoo said

By Georgia Slater / People.com
May 08, 2020
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North Carolina Zoo/Twitter

The North Carolina Zoo is giving you five more reasons to visit the park when they reopen their gates.

On April 21, the zoo celebrated the birth of five critically-endangered American red wolf pups, three males and two females, the park shared Thursday.

"The pups and their mother are all healthy and doing well," the zoo reported.

The adorable animals were born to mom Piglet and dad Jewell, both first-time parents to a litter.

There are only 15-20 red wolves in the wild, only in North Carolina, making the species the most endangered canid in the world, the zoo explained in their announcement.

With the addition of the five pups, the zoo's red wolf breeding program now has 25 wolves, the second-largest pack in the United States.

"Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo for playing an essential part toward helping this critically endangered species recover," Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, said. "It’s yet another example of the Zoo doing amazing work to conserve wildlife and wild places."

All five of the tiny pups were named after plants found in North Carolina.

The three boys received the names Oak after Appalachian Oak, Cedar after Red Cedar and Sage after Azure Sage.

The girls were named Lily after the state's wildflower, Carolina Lily, and Aster after Piedmont Aster.

The zoo is keeping the pups in a "quiet, non-public viewing area" where they have "minimal contact with staff and keepers."

"This allows their mother to raise the pups with the least amount of stress in a natural habitat," the zoo explained.

The North Carolina Zoo has been part of the American Red Wolf Recovery since 1994, breeding eleven pups over the past three years and 34 wolves total since beginning the program.

Across the U.S, there are approximately 240 red wolves in breeding programs.