Zephyr - Mexican Gray Wolf | Photo courtesy El Paso Zoo

El Paso Zoo mourning death of Mexican Gray Wolf

El Paso Zoo staff and employees are mourning the death of 14-year-old Mexican Gray Wolf, Zephyr, who had to be euthanized due to several age-related issues.

Zookeepers and veterinary staff had been managing Zephyr’s health and determined that the prognosis for a good quality of life was poor, and humane euthanasia was the best course of action.

Zephyr came to the El Paso Zoo in the spring of 2016 from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Zephyr, along with his female companion Polly, was recently moved to the new Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit at the El Paso Zoo.

“I continue to feel privileged to be able to work with such an important wildlife species, not only aiding in the population management of these magnificent animals, but in providing excellent lives to the individuals in our care, such as Zephyr,” said El Paso Zoo Animal Curator John Kiseda.

“I’m also extremely happy that Zephyr was able to enjoy his spacious new facility, although for not nearly long enough with his having passed away today. From now on, I’ll always remember him looking very comfortable and contented, sleeping in the shade of ‘his’ large pine tree in his new exhibit.”

The El Paso Zoo has one remaining female Mexican Wolf, Polly, who is 13 years old.

The Mexican gray wolf, or “lobo,” is 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 zoos.

Because of populations in zoos, Mexican grey wolves were reintroduced into the wild on March 29, 1998, after being extinct for more than 30 years. The median life expectancy for a Mexican Gray Wolf is around 11 years.

The zoo has been involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums [AZA] Species Survival Plan program [SSP] for Mexican wolves for 25 years, and the new facility provides the zoo with the capacity to not only have possible future reproduction, but to also become involved with the cross-fostering of wolf pups into the wild population of Mexican wolves.

There are fewer than 200 Mexican wolves in the wilds of Mexico & the United States. The Mexican Gray Wolf SSP is a cooperative bi-national program to aid in the population management of Mexican Gray Wolves in conservation care and the wild.