Reflection Riding announces the birth of two critically-endangered red wolf pups to parents, Apollo and Ruby, on April 15. These pups represent hope and excitement for the entire red wolf population, and they are being cared for here in Chattanooga at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, where they were born, said officials.
This news is exciting, as fewer than 250 American red wolves exist today, with very few in the wild.
The two pups made their public debut, albeit brief, on Tuesday morning at Reflection Riding. The window for these red wolf pups to be introduced publicly is very limited, though more opportunities will be available as they grow up and become stronger over time.
As a longtime member of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, Reflection Riding exhibits, houses and breeds American red wolves and has done so for many years. This is the fifth litter born at Reflection Riding and the second litter for these parents. Ruby, the mother, was born at Reflection Riding on April 15, 2016, and Apollo, the father, arrived at Reflection Riding in January 2019 from Zoo Tampa.
The American red wolf is the most critically-endangered canid in the world, with less than 20 living in the wild at a single release site in northeastern North Carolina. This is the only wild site where red wolves can be found. There are 250 red wolves under managed human care at 43 facilities in the United States. Reflection Riding has been a very active member of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan since 1996 and has had a staff member sitting on multiple committees since that time.
American red wolves are a critically-endangered wolf native to the Southeastern United States. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, extermination programs and habitat loss led to a dramatic decline and near extinction of the species. Scientists learned later how important those keystone species were in keeping an entire ecosystem healthy. In the late 1970s, the last remaining wild American red wolves were captured in an effort to save them. These 14 remaining American red wolves were brought into managed care, starting the breeding and recovery program now known as the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan.
In 1987, four American red wolves were released into the wild in North Carolina, marking the first time a canid considered extinct in the wild was ever re-established in its natal territory. That population has continued to face major challenges, but with the help of US Fish and Wildlife Service and the SSP, efforts continue to bolster this population.
After years of increased population numbers, a decline in population began to occur in the mid first decade of the 21st century, particularly during hunting season. Red wolves were mistaken for coyotes by hunters. Today, the wild red wolf population stands at less than 20, and the population under human care hovers around 250, with the aggressive goal of increasing it to 550. Recently, four adult red wolves were released into the North Carolina recovery area and four pups were cross fostered to a wild litter to bolster the population numbers. The recovery of the red wolf is tenuous, but with the determined efforts of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, the red wolf has strong allies.
Learn more about Reflection Riding’s American red wolf pack here. You can learn more
about the Red Wolf SSP here.