I told you last week I would let you know about wolf stuff that happened at the wolf meeting. Thanks for being patient.
On the second day of our Red Wolf SSP (Species Survival Plan) Master Plan meeting we look at all the wolves in the captive population (there are 178 at 40 different institutions). You can get a general idea of where the institutions are on the map below.
The goal is to make sure every wolf has a home with a companion and that we make “GOOD” breeding matches for the wolves. Sarah Long, from AZA’s Population Management Center, leads us through the match making process. The goal is to not just pair wolves but pair wolves that will give us the best genetic outcome- the best possible gene diversity, the least possible inbreeding… Sarah does it all on her computer, but she passes out a list of the red wolves- males listed down the left and females down the right column. The studbook number, age, and location of the wolves are listed. The wolves at the top are the most important in the sense that they are the least related to all the other wolves. If you look closely you can see that our current two wolves are right at the top (1369, 1227).
You can also see my handwriting making lines with “hearts”. To cut to the chase, our current wolves have been paired together for two years and have not breed so it is time to find them other mates. If the recommendations from the SSP meeting hold, our male (1369) will stay here and female 1287 who is a 7 year old wolf at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island will come to us. Our female (1227) will head to the NC Zoo and be paired for breeding with a 3 year old make (1606 or 1605- they are brothers and it is unsure at this point which brother she will make her home with)
You can barely see Sarah sitting at her computer. Jay is the man in the red shirt (He’s from the Miller Park Zoo). There are a lot of white pages on the wall with pink and blue post-it notes. Each white page represents an institution and each post it represents a wolf (I am sure you get the pink and blue idea, but if you don’t just ask in the comment section). This paper system is really helpful because as we make good matches we can move the post-its (the wolves) around the room to different institutions and visualize what’s happening and see if somewhere ends up with too many or too few wolves.
By early September we’ll know for sure what the plan is and then we’ll make arrangements to “swap” wolves likely during October when it is cooler. So, pay attention to future posts, and as always, ask if you have questions.