Red wolf pups: it might happen!

April 7, 2011 | Marilyn Johnson

Anyone who knows me, or has been reading the blog for a while, knows that I have a great passion for red wolves.  After breeding season was over, I was sure that our female was pregnant. Being that we (the keepers) like to pick on each other and give one another a hard time about anything possible, I have withstood much teasing and joking from my co-workers… and as always I have appreciated their humor!

Despite the fact that most people did not think she was pregnant, we have still kept close watch for different behaviors from both the male and female. Some of the things we noticed in the last month were the female starting to bury food (which is not an abnormal behavior for red wolves, but is a new behavior that we have witnessed for her), the male paying more attention and being more nurturing towards the female, the female being hungrier in the morning, a couple of times she was found in one of the man-made dens (again, a new behavior for her that we have witnessed), and the female has also been digging large holes in the side of the exhibit’s cliff (this would be an indication of digging a shallow den).

The latest behavior that has occurred in the past three days is the fact that she has now pulled out her belly hair. According to Sherry, this is usually a good indicator that she will be having pups soon because she is making her nipples more accessible for suckling. This most recent behavior seems to have swayed most people towards the fact that she actually is pregnant, but it is still not definite. There is always the possibility of a pseudo-pregnancy, but we are all keeping our fingers crossed that this will be the real thing!

In preparation for this event, I decided to take a poll from everyone to see when they think she will have the pups, how many she will have, and the sexes of the pups. The tally is below. The numbers that you see are going to be “zoo lingo”, and the first number is the number of males and the second number is the number of females. There can also be a third number, which would be of unknown sex (some animals are more difficult to sex than others. It’s not always obvious depending on the species). So for example, “3.2″ would be 3 males and 2 females, for a total of 5 pups. Feel free to chime in your own guess in the comment section! Mikey and I also got some good pictures of one of the potential dens that the female seems to have concentrated on the most and has made impressively large and deep. Take a look!

Mikey- April 10th- 2.1

Kimberly- April 11th- 0.3

Jill- April 9th- 1.2

Aaron- April 10th- 4.3

Sarah- April 10th- 0.2

Marilyn- April 7th- 3.1

Annie  (volunteer)- April 9th- 2.3

Karyn (volunteer/ blogger)- April 8th- 1.2

Sherry- April 12th- 2.1

Greg (Explore the Wild ranger)- April 9th- 3.3

Katy- April 12th- 2.3

Kent- April 17th- 0.1

Kristen- April 10th- 3.2

Erin- she’s not pregnant

This is the "potential den" that the female wolf has dug out the most. As you can see, it's pretty deep.!

This is a closer look at the same den so that you can see the depth. Being that she is digging on the side of a cliff, she ran into a lot of large rocks.

This is a good look deep inside the den, and you can see the remnance of large roots that she chewed and pulled away to make space. Pretty impressive!

This is a long root that we found just outside the den that looked to have been ripped away by the female. I was amazed!

This is one of the ends of that same long root, and it has clearly been ripped out. The other end looked similar, so it seems as though this may have been caused by a wolf.

This is what the den looks like from a distance. It can be seen easily from the exhibit overlook.

This is another hole she started on the side of the cliff, but as you can see she ran into a lot of rocks.

This is the first hole we found over three weeks ago.

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