Although Mexican gray wolf F613, affectionately nicknamed “Mama Gray,” was never visible to Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) visitors (she resided off-exhibit during her nine years at the WCC) 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.
Born on May 8, 1999 at the Rio Grande Zoo, F613 was the oldest wolf at the WCC and also one of a few wolves in our charge to experience life in the wild. In 2005, she was released into the wilds of Arizona. Sadly, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the young loba back in captivity after the documentation of non-aggressive interactions with dogs along with her production of a hybrid litter.
A new chapter opened for her in 2007 when F613 gave birth to a robust litter of ten at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and then joined the WCC family with her pack before the year’s end. The following months, however, proved bitter sweet for her family. F613 brought six more pups into the world on Earth Day of 2008, but she suffered further heartbreak a few months later when her mate and companion, Mexican wolf M566, passed away due to kidney failure, leaving her alone to raise her multi-generational brood of sixteen.
Needless to say, F613 was a strong mother and a powerful presence in her pack. For nearly a decade she kept her spirited children in check and until late last year held the honor of getting first claim of the family’s weekly feast of whole-carcass road-killed deer. But at almost seventeen years of age, her physical strength waned. And on March 2, 2016, her spirit too.
In honor if #LoboWeek, Henry of the WCC P.A.C.K. Fellowship shares the story of Mexican gray wolf F613.