SALISBURY — On the morning of June 12, 2014, Salisbury zookeepers found the older of the Zoo’s two female red wolves deceased in her exhibit. Her death is believed to be the result of natural causes. Consistent with standard procedures the Zoo’s veterinarian will perform a necropsy to better determine a cause of death. Similar to medium sized dogs red wolves in captivity are expected to live between 10 and 15 years. The Salisbury Zoo’s red wolf was 13 years old. She was the mother of five pups born in May 2008. Four pups were sent to North Carolina Zoological Park, Western North Carolina Nature Center and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.
In December 2007 the Zoo obtained a pair of red wolves, a male from North Carolina Zoological Park and a female from The Virginia Living Museum. The exhibit was formally opened on Earth Day, April 2008. That Saturday, more than 3,000 visitors poured into the Zoo to get a glimpse of its newest animal.
The red wolf is a powerful symbol of our shared natural heritage, and a reminder of what can be lost if we do not act on behalf of wildlife. Native to the Delmarva Peninsula the red wolf was declared extinct in the wild in 1980, a victim of misperceptions and government sponsored hunting. Records from 1681 in Sussex County, Del., describe a bounty of 50 pounds of tobacco for a wolf’s head. The red wolf has been successfully reintroduced to protected areas in eastern North Carolina and is federally protected by the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Association and The Association of Zoos & Aquariums cooperatively manage the species in the wild and in captivity through the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan.
Zoo staff will be working with the SSP over the next two months to determine the best moves to sustain both the captive population and the Salisbury Zoo red wolf program.