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Zoo’s near-threatened maned wolves have four pups

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Near-threatened maned wolves brought to New Orleans to breed have done just that, and are rearing four puppies, the Audubon Zoo announced.

Three are black and one is silver, but they’ll mature to their parents’ colouration – red coats shading to black on muzzles and long, slender legs.

Maned wolves are from South America. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources estimates there are about 17,000 mature maned wolves in the wild, with about 90 per cent of them in Brazil. The biggest threat is what the organisation describes as “intense deforestation” of their habitat in Brazil.

Although their colouration is similar to red foxes and they are called wolves, genetic studies show they are not in either group. Red wolves are the largest South American canids, about 90 centimetres tall at the shoulder and weighing about 23 kilogrammes.

The Audubon Zoo is among nine institutions with pairs recommended for breeding this year under the maned wolf species survival plan, said the zoo’s assistant curator for African animals Andrew Haertzen who also oversees some other canids.

The Audubon Zoo’s adults arrived in August 2021 – mother Brisa from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute and father Sheldon from Sunset Zoo in
Manhattan, Kansas.

The pups were born on January 31, but the zoo delayed the birth announcement because many canids die in their first month.

“There were no obvious health concerns for the pups, but we wanted to remain cautiously optimistic as this pair are first-time parents. The pups are doing extremely well,” Haertzen said in a statement e-mailed by a zoo spokesperson.

Keepers have not yet gotten close enough to tell how many males and females there are.

“Maned wolves are especially prone to stress in the early days of rearing pups and sometimes move them around frequently, which leads to injury and higher pup mortality as well,” Haertzen said.

Extra barricades have been set up in front of their habitat to keep people farther away from the family and avoid stressing the adults, the news release said.

Maned wolf puppies at the Audubon Zoo. PHOTO: AP

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