The wolves get their big day! Four red wolf pups born at the WNC Nature Center on May 9 have been introduced into the main exhibit area and are viewable by the public for the first time, center director Chris Gentile announced today.
“The pups are now about 15 pounds each and are really active in the new exhibit” Gentile says.
Since their birth three months ago, the pups along with their mother “Mayo” and dad “Phoenix” have been living in a large off-exhibit yard. During that time, nature center staff evaluated their health and administered important inoculations. Once the pups became more independent, the decision was made to move them to the main exhibit yard.
The WNC Nature Center is one of only four U.S. zoos that saw the birth of red wolves in 2012, and Gentile said it is a privilege to be able to have them at the center. “The red wolf is critically endangered, so to get to watch these four grow is a very unique opportunity. We are happy that we can share this exciting experience and the story of the red wolf with our visitors,” Gentile said.
The red wolf, Canis rufus, is a federally protected endangered species native to the southeastern United States. Only about 400 are known to be in existence. The Red Wolf Species Survival Program, a partnership between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, keeps track of all red wolves in zoos worldwide and makes recommendation on which wolves should breed to increase the overall health of the population.
The WNC Nature Center is part of the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and features over 250 animals native to the Southern Appalachians including red wolves, otters, birds of prey, black bears, and reptiles. The Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Regular admission to the WNC Nature Center is $6 for adults ($8 for non-Asheville residents), $5 for seniors ($7 for non-Asheville residents), $4 for youth ages 3-15 and children age 2 and under are free.