Unbeknownst to the five week old Mexican wolf kiddos, the terribly cute trio has been warming the hearts of a global audience via the Wolf Conservation Center's remote webcams. But beyond being adorable, the pocket-size predators represent the Center's active participation in an effort to save a species on the brink of extinction.
The WCC is one of 54 facilities in the U.S. and Mexico participating in the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan - a bi-national initiative whose primary purpose is to support the reestablishment of Mexican wolves in the wild through captive breeding, public education, and research.
The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) or “lobo” is the most genetically distinct lineage of wolves in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most endangered mammals in North America. By the mid-1980s, hunting, trapping, and poisoning caused the extinction of lobos in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998 the wolves were reintroduced into the wild as part of a federal reintroduction program under the Endangered Species Act. Today in the U.S., there is a single wild population comprising only 97 individuals - a decrease from 110 counted at the end of 2014.