On May 2, 2015, red wolf F1563 (a.k.a. Salty) gave birth to a litter of pups. All of them adorable and each a valuable contribution to the recovery of his and her rare and at-risk species. Under Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP) protocols, captive born pups must be checked during certain milestones in their development. We checked the pups at one day old to determine the size of the litter and take stock of their health, and then again at ten days, two months and again last week at their three month mark.
The Wolf Conservation Center staff and volunteers gathered early on Thursday morning to locate, capture, and “process” the pups. Our goal is to record heart rates and weights and administer wormer and the second of a series of three Distemper/Parvo vaccinations. As newborns, each pup could fit in the palm of one's hand. Now at three months old, the rapidly growing kiddos are all ears, legs and paws and thus much better equipped to elude the WCC team.
Based on observations of the pups' behavior via webcam, we were fairly positive that some of the pups would remain well stashed their favorite hiding place - a cavernous tunnel engineered by the pups themselves within the family’s deep den. And the pups proved us correct… We were able to wrangle only one of the five boys but confirmed after a bit of excavation that the other four fellows had hunkered down out of reach.
So out came the shovels and other tools to dismantle the den they customized so well. After two hours of digging, we the last pup finally fled the construction zone. Although we felt a bit guilty about dismantling the pups' creation, the tiny engineers were on the brink of outgrowing their underground labyrinth so the renovations are probably for the best.
Once all the pups were captured, Dr Charlie Duffy VMD, our veterinarian who donates his time and expertise to the WCC, thoroughly examined the kiddos and they all looked robust, healthy, and terribly to cute! All the pups also received a microchip linking each to his alphanumeric name. Wild wolves and wolves associated with a recovery program are often given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history. Letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate the sex of the animal and are capitalized for adult animals 24 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups.
Here’s the breakdown from the exam:
• Male Pup – 18.8 lbs
• Male Pup – 18.8 lbs
• Male Pup - 16.6 lbs
• Male Pup - 15 lbs
• Male Pup - 14.8lbs
.Also on the day's agenda was to check on one-year-old F2074, affectionately called "Gracie" by her adoring fans in the WCC's webcam community, and an unusual growth she had on her hip. Last month the WCC team did a preliminary examination and determined that surgery was in order at the Doctor's next visit. So after catching the beautiful yearling, we kenneled her, brought her to the Norwalk Veterinary Hospital, sedated her, and Dr Duffy began the procedure. The mass was determined to likely be a muscle herniation from bite wound to her hip. Very unusual. The good news is it will no longer be a bother and Gracie is feeling fine and back with her family.
The pups’ next checkup will be next month but you can check in anytime! Follow the pups’ progress via webcam and let us know what you see!