It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news about a special wolf. Mexican gray wolf F749, nicknamed “Mama” and "Bella," passed away today. Although the F749 was rarely visible to Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) guests (she resided off-exhibit for most of her years) the beautiful loba crept into our homes and hearts via webcam, opening the door to understanding the importance of her endangered kin and our efforts to recover them. She was strong and spirited until earlier this month when her health began to decline. Yesterday, she was unable to get up for food. We had to euthanize her early this morning.
Her necropsy (autopsy for animals) revealed that her decline was the result of intussusception. Intussusception is basically the small intestine telescoping on itself causing a blockage. Kidney failure was the secondary cause.
F749 joined the WCC family in 2009. She was flown from her home at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Pre-Release Facility in New Mexico's Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge to our center in New York on a cold December evening.
Because the entire existing Mexican wolf population descended from just seven founders rescued from extinction, genetic health is the primary consideration governing all breeding wolf pairings. During her time at the WCC, F749 was deemed one of the most genetically valuable Mexican gray wolves in the country. Thus she was chosen to breed annually despite her poor record for raising healthy litters. Her most recent pups born in 2013 were among the very few to survive, a likely result of being hand-raised and then placed with captive Mexican gray wolf foster parents. Today her sons remain potential parents themselves. Mexican wolf M1298 (a.k.a. Mack) is getting the opportunity to breed this season at the Endangered Wolf Center. In February 2015, F749 was spayed and her remaining viable eggs are currently being conserved for future use in the Mexican wolf in vitro fertilization program.
Our hearts go out to her companion M1198 (a.k.a. Alleno), her sons M1133 (Rhett) and M1059 (a.k.a. Diego), and those of you who she had unknowingly touched.
R.I.P. sweet loba.