The Desert Museum in Saltillo, Coahuila, has announced the birth of eight healthy Mexican gray wolf pups this spring, the fifth litter born at the facility and an important step for a species that is in danger of extinction.
Since 2009, the museum has been part of the Binational Committee for the Recovery of the Mexican Gray Wolf, made up of more than 50 institutions from Mexico and the United States.
The gray wolf, one of the most endangered mammals in North America, once roamed southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, western Texas and Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental before being driven to the brink of extinction in the 1970s due to hunting and habitat encroachment.
“After the massacres that occurred in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a total of seven Mexican wolves were recovered; they were wild and were captured to restart the breeding program,” explained Miguel Ángel Armella Villalpando, a biology professor at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City.
Currently, most gray wolves exist in captivity as zoos and wildlife parks hope to increase their numbers. Mexico has released 30 captive wolves into the wild, and the United States has more than 100 living outside of captivity.
BIENVENIDOS AL MUNDO: Dos lobos grises mexicanos (en peligro de extinción), del zoológico de Albuquerque, son los orgullosos padres de siete cachorros, anunciaron funcionarios esta semana.
— Webcams de México (@webcamsdemexico) June 11, 2020
The Desert Museum has been successful in its breeding program, with litters born in 2015, 2016 and 2017. After no pups were born in 2018, the museum switched out the breeding pair and welcomed three pups in 2019, and the most recent litter of eight — four males and three females — in April. The museum currently has 18 gray wolves in its care.
Also this year, a sanctuary in New Mexico saw the birth of seven healthy pups, bringing the total number of Mexican gray wolves in existence in the world to 204.
All the Coahuila pups are part of preventive medicine, nutrition and enrichment programs established for the species and supported by the University of Coahuila and Carlos Slim’s wildlife foundation.