Red Wolf pups staying in Tallahassee one more year

Red Wolf pups staying in Tallahassee one more year
Red Wolf pups staying in Tallahassee one more year
Posted at 3:32 PM, Dec 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-13 14:00:13-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Tallahassee Museum is 1 of 43 facilities across the country that is home to red wolves.

The red wolf is a native Florida species saved from extinction in the 1970's by the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. The Tallahassee Museum has participated in the survival program since 1988.

The goal is to care for and breed the species, eventually sending them back into their natural habitat.

This year, the breeding program is at capacity. For the first time, the pups are staying an additional year.

Mike Jones, the animal curator, says the museum has a multi-generational exhibit made up of 4 pups, their parents, and 2 older wolves. Typically, the pups relocate at 6 months old to continue breeding the species.

Breeding is carefully coordinated and program participants meet every year to make the best possible matches.

"We're thrilled to be able to have a litter of pups this year and it's fun to watch the interaction between the pups and the parents because they really behave and do what the parents tell them to do," said Jones. "And both parents are involved in raising them."

Only 17 red wolves roamed the southeast when the recovery program was started. Today, 100 are back in the wild and nearly 250 are in the program.

The wild population lives at the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge in Florida's panhandle, and a refuge center in North Carolina.