ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A South Georgia state park welcomed the first red wolf pups born in the United States for 2015, and officials there are hopeful that it could help restore the critically endangered species.
Two adorable pups, named Boone and Belle were born on March 29th to parents Ayita and Finnick at Chehaw Park.
They join two other pups named Flint and Faith to parents Waya and Patriot on April 4th.
"I would assume that the pups will be out and about within the next two weeks. As they get older and braver, the pups will begin to adventure around the exhibit and become more visible. Right now they can be difficult to see," said Zoological Manager, Ben Roberts.
The pups will remain at Chehaw for a couple of years and may then be reassigned to another facility in order to start their own pack and help this rare species flourish once more.
The park said just 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina, and nearly 200 red wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities throughout the United States. So the two male and two female pups represent a welcome increase in the overall population.
Red wolves in the U.S.
Red wolves are one of two wolf species found in the United States and were once common throughout the southeast. Unfortunately, by the 1960s their population was virtually gone. They were officially listed as endangered in 1973.
At that time, an effort was made to round up as many of these wild animals as possible. A total of 17 pure bred red wolves were found in Texas and Louisiana and 14 of those became the breeding stock for the current population.
In 1980, the species was listed as extinct in the wild. By the end of the decade, there were enough captive red wolves to begin looking at releasing them into the wild.
Red wolves are smaller than gray wolves and larger than coyotes, with adults ranging in weight from 53 to 84 pounds. Red wolves have tall pointed ears and long, slender legs with large feet. They stand about 26 inches at their shoulder and are about 4 feet long from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.
For more information about red wolves and Chehaw Park, call (229) 430-5275.