Golden Pond, KY- On April 26, 2022, an unexpected litter of critically endangered American red wolves were born at the Woodlands Nature Station in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Once prevalent throughout the southern United States, red wolves are now the most endangered canine in the world and are only found in captivity and eastern North Carolina. The Woodlands Nature Station is home to the only captive breeding pair in Kentucky and has been involved with the Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1991.
Jasper, the 75-pound male, defied the odds as he was widely considered too old to successfully breed at 13 years of age. However, Jasper’s genes are considered the seventh most valuable of all male red wolves alive, making this litter an especially welcome surprise for red wolf recovery efforts. Ember, the four-year-old female and first-time mother, gave birth to five pups: three males and two females. One male did not survive. The remaining four pups, dubbed the “Fantastic Four” by the Nature Station staff, are healthy, growing quickly, and gaining weight. The pups will remain in the den and be unviewable by the public for at least their first six weeks of life. It may be June before they step outside the den.
“This is still a very vulnerable time for the pups, and we need to be prepared they may not survive, as only one out of every four litters make it,” said John Pollpeter, Lead Naturalist and Animal Care Coordinator for Woodlands Nature Station. “We are taking the necessary precautions to protect the litter and increase the survivability of this majestic and critically endangered species. We are prepared to keep them for 18 months until they are eligible to be transferred to another zoo or nature center to start their own families.”
The Woodlands Nature Station will offer regular red wolf programs in June, which will give the public the best opportunity to see them- although a glimpse of the pups is not guaranteed. Check out the Woodlands Nature Station Facebook page for “Weekly Pupdates” on the litter and the official Land Between the Lakes’ website for upcoming red wolf programs: www.landbetweenthelakes.us