No. Don’t get excited. No red wolf pups were born at the Museum this year, and with about one week left in birthing season we are not expecting any this year. We’ll hope for a better outcome next year, maybe even some fertility dances.
All pups are born typically in April or May because red wolf females only go into estrus once a year, usually for a two week window sometime in February or March (also known as “cycling” or menstruating). This means there is only one period of time per year they can become pregnant, and why all pups are born around the same time, rather than spread throughout the year, like people, for instance.
Four of the pups born at Lincoln Park were fostered to a pair of wild red wolves at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Fostering is the best way to get wolves from the captive population to the wild population. The way fostering works is wildlife biologists locate a wild red wolf who has given birth around the same time as a wolf in the captive population. The captive pups must be fostered within three weeks of birth: the transfer has to happen before the pups eyes open, that way the first thing they see will be their parents and siblings. It’s really cool, and it works as it has been done successfully int he past.
I’ll try to get an update on how the wild population of red wolves has been doing as far as number of litters and number of pups. Look for this information next week.