News Room | Wolf's pseudo pregnancy
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Museum’s endangered red wolf experiencing a pseudo pregnancy(MAY 2, 2011 – DURHAM, N.C.)
On April 5, the Museum announced its endangered red wolf may be expecting, however staff are now assuming its female Red Wolf 1287 is experiencing a pseudo pregnancy. Museum staff originally thought pups would arrive before April 20, but as of today, there are no pups.
"The chances of having a litter are very low now," comments Sherry Samuels, the Museum's animal department director. This news is disappointing; especially considering the survival of the endangered red wolf species relies on successful litters. There are less than 300 in existence.
According to Dr. Debbie Vanderford, the Museum's consulting veterinarian, a false pregnancy (Pseudocyesis) is a fairly common condition in dogs, and has been reported in Red Wolves.
"It can occur when hormonal mechanisms normally in place for estrus and conception get a bit out of control. You can think of it as exaggerated wishful thinking," comments Vanderford.
Dogs, or wolves, can manifest many symptoms of pregnancy including mammary development and milk production, abdominal distension, and mothering behavior. The condition typically resolves when hormone levels return to normal, generally two to three weeks.
Although there is very little chance the Museum’s Red Wolf may be pregnant, Museum staff continue to be optimistic. “May 25 is the latest date a litter of red wolves have ever been born. We’ll watch closely until then,” comments Samuels.
Follow the story online at lifeandscience.org, the Animals and Keepers Blog or attend a Meet the Keeper program, held daily at 2 p.m. at Explore the Wild. The Museum of Life and Science in Durham is located at 433 W. Murray Avenue. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.