TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A pair of endangered red wolves now call ZooTampa home, and zoo staff hope there may be puppies in the future as they work to help save the ‘species.
ZooTampa is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan to help increase genetic diversity and wolf population numbers.
With the Florida Wilds exhibit at ZooTampa now open, there was room for more red wolves at the zoo.
Nymeria and Sumac can be seen in the original habitat of the red wolf.
“We were able to accommodate a breeding pair and they entered our former red wolf habitat. So we created a new space for our three brothers that we already had at the zoo,” said Molly Lippencott, Florida and Manatee Curator at ZooTampa.
Lippencott said there are about 40 institutions nationwide that are part of the breeding program. He is trying to reintroduce red wolves into the wild as part of a joint effort with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
ZooTampa’s wolves will not be immediately introduced into the wild, but Lippencott said they contribute to the genetic population of the remaining red wolves.
“So over time some of the wolves that we have here might be reintroduced into the wild,” she said. “We are really excited to be part of this program, as they are trying to have a direct impact on nature.”
Lippencott explained that red wolves are critically endangered, with less than 20 living in the wild. ZooTampa remains optimistic in its conservation work.
“We’re really excited it’s breeding season and we’re optimistic we have a pair now and we’ll have to see if we have babies in the spring and if not it’s really great for people to interact with. red wolves,” Lippencott said.
The zoo said, although extremely unlikely, all sightings of red wolves should be reported to email@example.com.