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Red Wolf

Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo

Did You Know?

  • Red wolves are the only wolf species native solely to the United States.
  • Fourteen red wolves from the 1980s are the founders of all living red wolves today.
  • In the 1970s, red wolves were considered extinct in the wild. The last 14 were captured and used to start a breeding program, and by 1985 the population had grown to 65 individuals. Today, there are fewer than 40 wild individuals, but many others remain in human care.

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Scientific Name: Canis rufus

Class: Mammals

Diet: Small mammals (also white-tailed deer and carrion)

Range: North Carolina

Endangered Status: Critically Endangered

More Information

At around 4 feet long and 25 inches tall, red wolves are medium-sized canids that are slightly smaller than their cousins, the better-known gray wolves, and larger than coyotes. They are lean with long legs and short hair. They have a brown- or cinnamon-colored coat, black on their back and tail, and a reddish hue on their head, ears, and legs. They weigh between 45 and 80 pounds, with males being larger than females.

These wolves are most active at dawn and dusk. They live in close-knit family packs and generally mate for life. They are secretive and territorial, with well-hidden dens in hollow trees, stream banks, sand knolls, or downed trees. Breeding takes place between January and March, resulting in a litter of up to nine pups after a 63-day gestation. Less than half of wolf pups born in the wild survive to adulthood as a result of disease, malnutrition, and predation.

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