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Wolfkeeper Notes
July 30th, 2006


New Wolves to Arrive in Minnesota Fall 2006

At this year's annual Mexican Wolf SSP meeting in Alpine, AZ, a decision was made to try something new with the population of Mexican gray wolves. The Minnesota Zoo will be acquiring 3 young female wolves from the Wild Canid Center in Eureka, MO in the fall to be housed with our four males. The thing that is unusual is that this transfer is NOT for breeding purposes. Rather, this is a new attempt at managing a larger group of wolves in a mixed-sex group, without the production of pups in the pack.

In the past, several facilities have introduced same sex animals to an already established pack, but this can be very difficult-especially with females. This difficulty is due to the nature of the wolf pack and social order. New wolves are viewed as intruders and can be injured during the introductions (or have to be separated fairly early due to aggressive behaviors). The idea with the Minnesota introduction would be to introduce an opposite sex to an already established pack, and to prevent breeding between animals that are not "genetically valuable" at the time. All wolves would be placed on a birth control implant. This implant would not only prevent breeding in the group, but should (in theory) diminish the aggression in the two hierarchies of the pack when the new wolves arrive. We would also monitor the effectiveness of the implants as part of the data collection for this drug.

If this is successful, this hormone treatment could be a great management tool for the SSP in managing a complex species without having pups produced in every pack. Check back in early winter to see how we are fairing...Learning is a continual process when managing wildlife in zoos.

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