Establishing a New Endangered Mexican Wolf Pack



With the start of a new year comes a new alpha wolf pair at Brookfield Zoo. Last month, a 7-year-old male Mexican wolf, named Apache, arrived from Albuquerque Bio Park in New Mexico. Animal care staff is hopeful that he and 2-year-old Ela will have a successful breeding season this winter and produce a litter of puppies this spring. Coincidentally, Ela’s name means earth in the Apache Native American language.

Mexican wolves at Brookfield Zoo
Apache (front) and Ela (behind)

“While this is Ela’s first experience meeting a male outside of her natal pack, she is a confident wolf and we expect her to bond well with Apache,” said Joan Daniels, curator of mammals. “Ela’s familiarity with the successful den sites in the habitat at Brookfield Zoo and observations of her mother Zana rearing a litter in 2017 makes her the perfect partner for Apache.”

Mexican wolves at Brookfield Zoo

Due to Brookfield Zoo’s breeding success in the past, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan requested the zoo establish this new breeding pair as well as participate in ongoing reproduction studies for the species. As part of its continued partnership in the multi-agency Mexican Wolf Recovery Program led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Chicago Zoological Society has contributed to the program. Over the years, CZS has collaborated on two cross-fosterings of pups born at the zoo; the release of one of its adult females to the wild, who subsequently had a litter of pups; and took part in population-wide fertility studies evaluating methods to improve pregnancy rates.

As one of the world’s rarest species, breeding in protective care amongst Mexican wolves is critical for the species’ survival. Currently, there are about 114 Mexican wolves living in the wild in the U.S. and approximately 31 in Mexico. The necessity of this transfer for the survival of this species makes the services provided by LightHawk even more crucial. LightHawk is a nonprofit organization that partners pilots with conservation organizations to help transfer endangered species to new homes. Pilot Chuck Yanke and Julie Tromblay, his co-pilot, volunteered to fly Apache to Illinois.

“We are extremely grateful to Chuck and Julie for donating their time and services to help in the conservation efforts for the Mexican wolf,” added Daniels.

Back in October, all the wolves at Brookfield Zoo, with the exception of Ela, were placed at other facilities based on recommendations from the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.

Posted: 1/15/2019 2:42:41 PM by Bryan Todd Oakley

CZS & Brookfield Zoo

Since the opening of Brookfield Zoo in 1934, the Chicago Zoological Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. Learn more about the animals, people, and research that make up CZS here at our blog.


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